RULES OF THE GAME – France - Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard – 2014 – 106 mts
There’s a rumour that the employment market is looking for bold individualists. Within limits, of course. The reality is: if it doesn’t fit, it’s made to fit – or rejected.
Lolita does not smile readily. Kevin doesn’t know how to sell himself. Hamid can’t abide bosses. They are twenty. They have no qualifications. They are looking for work and will be trained by a consulting agency over six months to learn the behaviour and forms of expression today’s employment market demands.
The consultants’ motives are more than honest: to enable young people to lead a decent life in the existing system. The kids see a new and strange world open up before their eyes. Both sides practice the best intentions, but now and then there are still glitches and sometimes there’s even the risk of a crash.We’ve seen films about the admission process of acting schools (“Addicted to Acting”, et al.). But such situations, though exciting, are child’s play compared to the roles Lolita, Kevin and Hamid must learn to play if they want a part in the performance that is called “living (and surviving) in capitalism today”. ---Ralph Eue
2. DOMINO EFFECT - Germany / Poland – Elwira Niewiera and P. Rosolowski - 2014 – 76 mts
At the moment things are quiet in Abkhazia, the semi-autonomous Caucasian mini state. Too quiet, says Minister of Sports Rafael. As stubborn and single-minded as Don Quixote he wants to use sports to bring back former glory to Abkhazia – after all, it worked under the Soviets. Ignoring the rusted ships that litter the beaches like stranded whales and the hopelessly decrepit mansions along the esplanade of Sokhumi, he fights for his event: a domino world championship. With admirable determination Rafael braves all obstacles: the lack of electricity, the lack of talented athletes and the tears of his wife, Moscow singer Natasha, who gave up her country for him. She feels foreign and crushed in the cultural conflict between Russia and Georgia who both claim territory in this region. ElwiraNiewira and Piotr Rosołowski link the private family disputes of a mésalliance with the sometimes absurd political reality of Abkhazia with near masterly flair. Like the couple who have yet to find each other, the country is looking for its identity. In any case, the resonant pop song about the Abkhazian capital is more than a beginning. ---Cornelia Klauß
3. ALL THINGS ABLAZE - Ukraine – Oleksandr Techynskyi, Aleksey Solodunov, DmitryStoykov - 2014 – 82 mts
The Ukraine may be ablaze for a while yet and the symbol of the Maidan in Kiev – burning barrels and tyre barricades – may continue to be the visual and olfactory nexus of the revolutionary memory. Sooty faces, determined but tired, their heads bloody but hard. The many-voiced battle cry “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes”, a strange common denominator shared by all the rebels, echoes across the square. What started with drums, bagpipes and European flags and turned seamlessly into bloody resistance against the truncheon battalions and violence on both sides sparked – which this collective project, expressive and informative despite its abstinence of commentary makes abundantly clear – an energy in the masses that was unpredictable and unstoppable.
There is a scene at the heart of the film whose length takes it to the limits of endurance but makes its symbolism almost palpable: protesters joyfully and forcefully demolish a huge bust of Lenin, taking victory photos (not quite sure about what precisely Lenin has to do with their hatred) while an old Soviet character hugs his beloved colossal stone fragment and refuses to let go until he almost collapses. The Maidan as a battlefield. Quellehorreur! ---Barbara Wurm
4.VICTORY DAY – Russia - Alina Rudnitskaya – 2013 – 29 mts
“Only in Russia is it possible for the president to declare the year in which he files for divorce the ‘Year of the Family’.” While the sea of flags of the victory parade in the streets of St. Petersburg below illustrates how much Russian nationalist, communist and orthodox positions have merged in this country of ideological extremes, lesbian and gay couples stay at home on their sofas. Behind closed windows and out of reach of the new public who are to be kept pure of all “perverts”. They talk about how they met and how their parents and environment deal with their coming out. A talk show is being broadcast on television, an upright citizen thinks that the anti homosexual law passed in June 2013 is too harmless: “This type should be forbidden to donate blood or sperm and if they have a car crash their hearts should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuited for the prolongation of any kind of life.” The applause lasts several minutes.
The nice thing about this film is the normality of these loves and lovers, the obviousness of their views and attitudes. And yet – certainly at the end, in the brilliant final montage – a layer of desperation has settled on their intelligent faces. After the Jews and queers, one of them says, all that’s missing is a law against witches. Welcome to the Middle Ages, welcome to Russia today. ---Barbara Wurm
5. THE FISH TAMER – Spain –Roger Gomez / Dani Resines – 2014 – 23 mts
This is the story of an old man and the sea, a great love story which, just as it was about to end, took an unusual turn. FrancescRoigToqués’s health does not allow him to take his boat out to sea any more. So he simply decides to bring the sea into his house. He starts a unique collection of maritime relics, shells, flotsam and jetsam which soon fills its confined space to the brim. Henceforth he will surround himself with things that remind him of his happiest days. Success soon overwhelms him: his trained fish who “dine” from spoons wash floods of tourist into his little museum. So he decides to “batten down the hatches” and embark on his last journey. The refuge called “PlaçadelCanó” in Vilanova on the Southern coast of Spain has survived its creator. This film tells the tale of a journey to objects imbued with history, a farewell that is not the end, and perhaps the most wonderful find: sequences that show nothing but the sea, majestic and pure. ---Cornelia Klauß
6. WHITE DEATH – Chile – Roberto Collio – 2014 – 17 mts
The vivisection of a landscape: sombre black and white images unfurl panoramas of a scraggy mountain region. Narrow paths winding through the Andes, crosses decorating the wayside. The ruins of a barracks appear, once housing recruits who departed on a last exercise and were caught in a snow storm. Fragments of real live shots collide with extremely reduced animations. The film’s emulsion begins to pulse and dissolve. Sudden lightning destroys every trace of narrative. This is not the reconstruction of an event that happened in 2005, but the evocation of a nightmare of coldness and death that was irrevocably inscribed into the landscape.
Director Roberto Collío deftly and brilliantly experiments with different materials to evoke graphical analogies. He started out as a sound designer; so on the subtly wrought soundtrack the lonely death of a young soldier finds its long, sad echo in the diminishing sounds of a whistle. ---Cornelia Klauß
7. GOAT FOR A VOTE - Netherlands/Kenya -Jeroen van Velzen – 2013 – 52 mts.
Let’s look at how democratic processes are practiced at a student election in rural Kenya: What exactly does the student representative do? Who cares. The point is the office, the prestige, the start of individual careers. The candidates: Magdalena, who traditionally has a tough stand as the only female candidate. Harry, who is dirt poor. To finance his campaign he sells fish and coconuts on the market. Said the charmer, who wants to be an army general. He is already a strategist: a photo call with the deputy who is made to stand a step behind him, putting up posters, asking relatives for money. And then this seductive smile! They all know that the only way to win is through campaign gifts. Or let’s call them by their real name, like Magdalena’s grandmother: bribes. So they distribute candy and “little somethings”. Harry even manages to wheedle a goat out of his relatives. Meat for all! Only Magdalena talks about content – which is why she will lose …
What does this teach us? School as a social microcosm teaches what promises to be successful. If the way there is through corruption, that’s a daily experience in many countries. What did they say at the beginning of the film? “The best way to understand our society is to look at one’s children”. In this sense: A vote for a goat!
8. NAOMI CAMPBEL – Chile - Camila José Donoso, Nicolás Videla – 2013 – 83 mts
Paula Yermén is a transsexual who lives in a seedy suburb of Santiago de Chile. Her personal drama is poverty, because the operation that would make her a complete woman isn’t free. Paula’s only chance is a reality show that would pay for a sex change – at the price of baring her body and soul to the audience. Like Paula’s sex, which is somehow “in-between”, the directors have chosen an in-between narrative format: diary clips shot by Paula with her camcorder, own documentary material and discretely re-enacted moments, for example between Paula and her lover. This method makes sense, since the film is the result of a two-year co-operation with Paula. She is less a classical protagonist than the actor of herself in the minefield of traditional social preconceptions. Her longing to re-invent herself in a new body is in strange contrast to her spiritual attitude, which goes back to her half-indigenous origins. The spirits she invokes for help speak to the soul, not to a mechanically manufactured new body. But this is an insight Paula can’t reach until she fails the casting process and has no way out any more. Matthias Heeder
9. SUDDENLY MY THOUGHTS HALT - Portugal - Jorge Pelicano – 2014 – 100 mts
Granted, celebrating a 131st anniversary may be a little weird, but it suits the setting. We are in a psychiatric hospital in Porto. The film first introduces some of the protagonists – already with stunning cinematography and an editing rhythm that from the first sequence seems entirely focused on the very idiosyncratic truth of this place. How can the thin line between mental normality and madness be described?
Jorge Pelicano uses an ingenious dramatic trick by introducing an actor. Directed by their therapist, the patients are rehearsing a 131st anniversary play. They are joined by Miguel, who plays the part of a 19th century schizophrenic Portuguese poet. More precisely: he plays a hallucinating horse. In fact, he moves into the hospital for two weeks, shares a room and meals, rehearsals and therapy sessions. And he attacks. Observes. Creates situations. Improvises. Inside-outside communication. Madness-normality. Soon we see him galloping through the grounds as he rehearses the hallucinating horse. The longer we follow him and the delightful residents of the hospital, the more we realise: the transition is blurred. And that is testimony to the outstanding narrative quality of this extraordinary film. Matthias Heeder
10. CINEMA DU REEL
IRANIEN – French – Switzerland – Mehran Tamadon - 2014 - 1”.45’ (TBC)
Mehran Tamadon, an Iranian filmmaker who lives in Paris, spent two days with four loyal supporters of the Iranian regime at his family's country house outside Tehran. . An atheist, Iranian filmmaker Mehran Tamadon managed to convince four mullahs, all believers in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to come and stay with him and engage in discussion. In this confined space, daily life is combined with debate, an unremitting demonstration of the problematic issue of how to live together, when each side's understanding of the world is so contrary?
11. FILM FESTIVAL LOCARNO
BROKEN LAND - Switzerland - Luc Peter, Stephanie Barbey – 2014 - 75mts
Broken Land is a journey with US citizens living in fear along the border with Mexico. It centers on seven Americans living close to the fence that runs along the U.S.’s border with Mexico. They talk about murders, dangers and invasion. Anxiety is palpable. In front of them stands a wall and around them the Border Patrol is in action to protect their land. Why is America, a country so emblematic of freedom, is erecting a fence to respond to its border war?