17th - 28th November 2014
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Editorial In the Crosswind In the Crosswind interview Lucifer Lucifer interview Inferno Fashion In Focus Life in a Fishbowl Refugiado The Man in the Orange Jacket Red Amnesia #chicagoGirl Summertime
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A Location Tour to Eastern Estonia In Focus Fidelio- Aliceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Journey In the Sands of Babylon Go on Living Tu dors Nicole Valley
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Poland In Focus Diversity In Focus Credits
Editorial Oh the irony. Just when the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival turns 18 years old the signs of maturity are almost overwhelming. Do you remember when you were 18? I do. My priorities may not have been that different than a few years before (sadly, in a way, they are still the same), but suddenly I had an irresistible need to present something concrete. It surely feels that these Black Nights are going through a similar process. It is no coincidence that the powers to be have decided to push the Baltic film event to the big league at this specific moment. The terminology may have become more confusing than in the past, but the idea is there: this event roams around with the big boys, have no doubt. For years now, what started as an ambitious showcase of films in the Estonian capital has become an obligatory stop, whose impact goes well beyond the region. It is not just the increasing influence of the industry days that shows great indications for future development. A careful look at all the activities on display at this year’s edition will leave you little or no space for reservations regarding this event’s capacity to be inventive. The gourmet cinema initiative put together two of the things I love most: film and food. The expansion of the festival, a few years ago, to the university town of Tartu has done wonders to the creation and encouragement of new audiences at a time when the film industry in general looked clueless in finding solutions; the event’s capacity to feed and agglutinate autonomous events such as Sleepwalkers and Just Film under its umbrella has created an atmosphere where everyone wins; and let’s not forget the devoted support the festival gives to initiatives such as Nisimazine itself or FIPRESCI’s Young Tallints, which is almost unmatched. If all of these points were not enough, I guess you are left finding other signs within the hours on end of digging deep into one of the most insane and complete film programs of the year, that not only showcased the best of 2014, but also found time to reveal and put the spotlight on up and coming talents from the region, as were the cases of Martti Helde (page 4) and Aik Karapetian (page 18), among many others. Despite these seemingly neverending options and alternatives, perhaps the clearest sign of this new found maturity can be found in the words that the festival director herself, Tiina Lokk, shared with us in a special exclusive interview that can be found here. Despite all the success, the courage and the intimidating results, the ambition is still there. All she could focus on was what needs to be improved, worked on, expanded. If that is not a symptom of wonders to come and a bright future, I don’t know what it is. It is in this context that we close the 4th edition of Nisimazine Tallinn. After 6 special publications and several podcasts and videos it is impossible not to recognize the hard work of this group of young writers, photographers and video bloggers from Estonia, Poland and Italy produced. And now here is the final piece of the puzzle. A whole e-book for you to marvel at and discover all its revelations. Enjoy! Fernando Vasquez 3
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER /TRIDENS ESTONIAN FILM AWARD / FICC JURY AWARD DON QUIJOTE
In the Crosswind
Martti Helde, Estonia - International Official Competition “Where should one go after being robbed of everything they believed in and loved?” – asks herself Erna, the protagonist of Martti Helde’s first feature film. This stylish black and white picture, undertaking a difficult historical topic, is one of the most artistically outstanding and mature films of the year – hard to believe it’s the director’s full-length debut. The action is set in 1941 in Estonia, recently annexed to Russia. The plot revolves around massive deportation of the Baltic nations to Siberia and is illustrated by the off-camera voice. The narration is led by the letters, written by Erna from a Siberian kolkhoz to her husband, staying most likely in a prison camp. Hoping to see her beloved again, the woman believes in his soon comeback. She writes deeply touching and poignantly honest letters, describing her life in exile.
“The loveliest years of my life passed as if standing still” – Erna writes, and her emotions have direct reflection in the construction of the movie: images stiffen in time as soon as the Red Army knocks on the door of a calm Estonian homestead. The camera slithers amidst the characters who are frozen in fear, solitude and pain, circling around and observing their faces from very close. An exceedingly detailed staging makes us follow its moves with involvement and curiosity. Sometimes, among those carefully arranged scenes, we can observe the curtain waving on the wind, a stem of cereal moved by air or a subtle blink of an eye. When the lens turn back, people seem to move again. The sounds of daily life, heard against the background of Erna’s voice, push the action forward and stay as a quiet testimony of the unseen suffering. This audacious experiment creates a feeling of the unavoidable Fate and the lyrical realism of hard times, synchronizing movie’s shape and content. Black and white cinematography expresses the world despoiled of colours and is a sentimental comeback to the early forties. “We’re living here in darkness, and lots of things look different at night than they do in a daylight” – daily life is put into simple words, and maybe that’s a hidden secret of this movie’s influential power. The off screen voice of Erna sounds unusually true and unpretentious: life a nddeath struggles, draining work, famine and lethal diseases are presented as daily occurrences. Even the acting – although it sounds absurd in a half-still movie – stands out with authenticity and commitment. Erna, played by incredible Laura Peterson, expresses a wide range of emotions on her face, even though she’s just a statue for most of the time. “What is freedom worth if you have to pay for it with solitude?” – the picture of a blooming apple tree, a ribbon tied up around the waist and sounds of a happy family life frequently return in letters, presenting the homeland as a mythological land of eternal happiness. These make contrasts even more painful. Erna survives due to hope, which is finally taken away from her. The movie tells the story about unbreakable power of faith which survives wars and brings the nations back on the political map of freedom. “What evil have we, simple people, have done to enormous Russia?” – in the year of Crimea annexation Erna’s question still sounds remarkably actual. Patrycja Calinska
Martti Helde director of In the Crosswind International Official Competition In the Crosswind, the first feature film by Martti Helde, is the latest hypnotizing discovery of the Estonian cinematography. Film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2014 and from then on doesn’t stop to collect well-deserved awards on many international festivals. However, Martti Helde stays away from the red carpets, camera flashes and all the glamour. For him it’s the people who are most important – their stories and the form of expression. He is only 27 and interested in cinema since 16. He graduated from the Baltic Film and Media School at Tallinn University and made many short films and commercials. In the Crosswind is a black-andwhite, still and in some way poetic drama about a woman who among thousands of Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians was deported to Siberia in 1941. Why did you decide to make a film about such a difficult subject? I was interested in history since I was very young. My grandfather was imprisoned in a camp so I grew up with his stories – he told me about the war, about the 1940s reality, I knew all about it. When the Estonian Film Institute organized the competition, at first I wanted to make a documentary. Then I decided to use tableaux vivants to make a still film. After a year, I thought it might be too good for the documentary so I re-decided and now it’s a feature film. 6
The form of In the Crosswind is amazing. However, it was a brave decision – it’s masterpiece, but it could also have been a complete disaster. Where did the idea for a still film come from? I like challenges, difficult things are a great motivation to work harder. I wrote the story mostly at nights because the deadline was approaching. I found a letter for my relatives written by a lady. There was a line “I feel like the time has stopped with my body, which has been taken to Siberia, but my soul is still in the homeland”. After reading this I decided that I want to make a film where I can create a feeling of stillness, freeze the time. Usually when you watch action films you have freedom to decide where to look, where is the focus point. I wanted to change that. Why? Because in the Soviet system people didn’t have a chance to choose what to do, the system made the decisions for them. My idea was to recreate the feeling of this kind of an open prison. Of course, I didn’t have any idea, if it would work or not. For three and half of the year I hoped it would. What did the process of shooting look like? It took six months. We prepared one scene, then we shot it and later we had a couple of days off. Next, we started to prepare the next – every single scene you can see in the movie was shot in one day, because we didn’t have money to do second takes.
To make such a visually sophisticated film you must have a great imagination and many ideas. What was your source of inspiration? Actually, when I was young I attended the art school, studying painting and composition. When preparing the film we didn’t use other films as a reference – we used photographs, paintings and sculptures. I bought all the available books about the history of art, sculptures, human body and movement. During my meetings with costume and set designers we were sitting around the table and watching all those pictures. We talked about the light and how the body is positioned on those paintings or photos. We wanted to find the essence, we were trying to capture the way artists before us used the human body to express certain feelings. Our goal was to understand what is going on in the pictures. The film is based on letters written by Erna Eliide. Was it just her or a compilation of different correspondence? Sixty percent of letters you can hear in the film is written by the same person. Of course the name was changed. The other part is a mix of archive materials and other letters. Landscapes in your movie play an important role in the story. How did you find those shooting places? Our intention was to find landscapes possibly similar to those from Siberia. We took reference pictures from the Internet or from the archives and later tried to find similar in Estonia. Obviously, nature in Estonia and Siberia is quite different, so all the process took about three years. My favourite location was Tapa. It is located in eastern Estonia and it is a place for military resources, an old cut-down forest. Can you imagine a huge field full of pieces of wood? It was an open space that didn’t look like Estonia - it was exactly Siberia. I remember when we made the first black and white photo of this location – we saw that there is something special, something really interesting to capture. It works. Are there many films talking about similar subjects? No, it’s the first film because Estonia gained its independence in 1991. Before that it was not allowed to talk about those topics, so making a film was impossible. In 1991 we couldn’t afford to make movie like that, it was too expensive. What’s more, it was too delicate a subject. I think that if something tragic happens to a nation, the next generations need time to rethink it. As a result, there is a 20-year gap in the Estonian cinematography. After all, making of In the Crosswind was coincidental, it started as a documentary. I heard that Latvia is doing the feature film about the same topic.
The film was released in Estonian cinemas not so long ago. What were the reactions after the premiere? To be honest, it is really hard for me to talk about it, because I can’t evaluate my own child. What is more, we had two premiere ceremonies at the same time. I was present at the first of them, I opened the film and went to the other cinema to welcome the audience there. When the audience came to the party after the screening, they started to congratulate me. After several weeks I understood that I made something important which people were waiting for. Of course, first they were worried if In the Crosswind isn’t too experimental. But after all, the audience’s reactions were very positive. I even secretly went to watch my last screening in the cinema and I saw that grandparents came with their grandchildren to see the movie together. I was really moved. I think it’s very important that young generations watch this film, maybe thanks to that they will remember those events. Actually In the Crosswind has visited many international film festivals and got several prizes. How do you feel when your film is awarded? Of course, prizes are nice but I’m not really into them. I like when people come to me and say “the film really moved me, it was something special”. For example, after the premiere, one of the elderly men came to me and said that he was deported when he was a child. He was about 8 years old, but he remembered those events in a similar way it was shown in the film. It was a huge compliment which gave me more than any prize. I made this film into some kind of a monument. I want to make films which will last longer than me. After such an unusual debut, I am very curious about your following film. What will be next? That’s a good question. Certainly, I’m not planning to do a still film again. I want to make a live action. So I think my first film is still coming... I like to experiment with form. For me the filmmaking is finding the right form to express the feeling. I hope that I will find an inspiring way to tell the story, because just capturing the action is a bit boring for me. I would like to explore the mountains of cinema, that’s my goal. So actually you are looking for...? Always for a good story. Monika Martyniuk
Gust Van den Berghe, BELGIUM - International Official Competition When covering themes such as religion and spirituality in film it is often impossible not to fall in preachy discourses or overcritical nuances. There are exceptions though, and one of the most interesting is unquestionably the work of Belgium filmmaker Gust Van Der Berghe, who for the last few years has been offering us a drastically different proposition. His interest in the issue could easily be labelled as an obsession. Both in Little Baby Jesus of Flandr and Bluebird spirituality plays a key role, offering us a new vision into a mysterious universe. In his new film, Lucifer, Berghe takes this concept a step further. The film tells us the story of a small village in Mexico, desperately waiting for the coming of a messianic entity that will save them from the perpetual state of condemnation they believe to be in. One day a stranger arrives and turns their existence upside down, distressing the delicate balance in which they were living. At first a saviour, he quickly reveals himself as a demonic imposter that will forever change the inhabitants’ lives. The most striking aspect of Berghe’s new film is indeed its process. During most of the film the audience is faced with an unusual dilemma: an unseen round aspect ratio alienates us from the action, transforming us in voyeurs, in the true sense of the word, peeking into a strange and mystifying lost forbidden world. Both uncomfortable and seductive, you can’t help but feel you are doing something wrong by invading other people’s lives, as if through binoculars or a microscope. It is a vastly interesting and intriguing exercise. Xavier Dolan’s recent experiment in Mommy is pale in comparison, as in Berghe’s case the technique goes beyond a mere aesthetical choice, it is a vital engine in which the narrative unfolds. As if that was not enough, Berghe often uses a pioneering technique of a double mirror lenses that offers us a full 360-degrees round vision of paradise. It does not only look absolutely gorgeous, but it is in fact overpowering, only surpassed by the very end (spoiler alert), when the screen is fully opened. It may sound somewhat demeaning and unnecessary, but the sighs of surprise that took over the film theatre are the ultimate proof of the efficiency of such procedure. After over one hour of enclosure you are suddenly brought back to a reality that feels just as strange and unworldly as the fiction. With such a powerful myriad of methodological and visual wonders you would be forgiven if you overlooked the plot. Ironically you would be following the right path. If there is any major fault in Lucifer it is in its characters, who are severely one-dimensional at points. There are exceptions of course, with some often providing pertinent existentialist impasses and comedic episodes, but more is needed to engage fully with the narrative. It’s a strange result because some roles are in fact oddly endearing and charming. You’ll have no problem whatsoever in sympathising with them, and most important, care deeply about their condition. In addition, the performances by the non-professional cast are wonderfully awkward. Nevertheless they feel empty of purpose and resolution, functioning merely as props to colorize and justify a technical triumph. Despite this imperfection, Lucifer is still one of the most fascinating and absorbing works of the year, executing a series of mindblowing effects on its audience that elevate this ambitious film to the realm of the thoroughly unique and unmissable. Fernando Vasquez 11
Gust Van den Berghe’s career has been a successive collection of successes with titles such as Little Baby Jesus of Flandr and Blue Bird achieving major critical praise. His new film, Lucifer, is bound to follow the same steps. So we could not let the chance to sit down with him once again to discuss his vision and process go by. Have you put the viewer in the position of God looking at your characters and looking what’s going on through this hole? Like looking from the space? Well, it’s about perspective, that’s for sure. I was not so worried about God when I was doing the film. It was something completely different when working on the theme, I was just looking at Renaissance paintings – not what they did, but how they did it. I think it’s a very interesting period: on a certain level, the mathematical knowledge was quite known, but God was still the centre of the universe. I think that’s what fascinated me. I tried to come up with the techniques and perspectives to tell a story that has been told many times in film, but forgetting about film history, and look at the history of paintings. In that sense try to make new images because when you talk about devil or paradise, we often repeat images.
Gust Van den Berghe director of Lucifer, BELGIUM International Official Competition Interview by Harro Rannamets
You worked mostly with non-professional actors. Did that leave you any room left for intuition? Only two of them were professional actors. Initially, I only wanted my Lucifer to be an actor, because then I could talk to him and say things other people wouldn’t understand. For me, the actor in the movie is the one who understands the bigger picture. And it’s nice if you make a film about paradise and you have somebody in that picture that doesn’t get the bigger idea. And is just there. And trusts you. It’s not only about them getting the idea; it’s also about trust. I had to bring one actress in because in that village it was very complicated to make a girl play pregnant. Because of the gossiping, it’s very,
very difficult. I saw a lot of girls in that area, around 100150 girls perhaps. But I treated her in a way I treated other non-actors: she had no idea of what was going on. All good films have intuition. It’s about trusting your path, even if it’s a very mainstream film, it’s very intuitive. The guy who played Lucifer is a very talented actor and he was able to handle that, but it’s not easy. It’s very difficult to play against that stream. Have the locals who participated in the film seen it already? Yes. It was the best experience I had. It was beautiful. For several reasons: they were just laughing from the beginning till the end, that’s the best compliment you can get. They got to see their own faces on the big screen. It was also nice that the cinema started to smell like fire, horses and rain, because of the clothes they had. For me it was the other way around: I entered the theatre when it was full, and it was really great. I was quite moved. Doesn’t happen that much, but that was a good one. The dialogue is all in Spanish. Did you ever feel you are putting a lot of trust in the translator? Were you ever afraid it might not work? Actually, the translation indeed was a very complicated part, more than expected. We were constantly translating: from their local language to Spanish, from Spanish to English. The art of translating for me was very important, we had to constantly translate. Most of the film is seen through a circular aspect ratio, but towards the end you opened the frame. It was a shock. Suddenly you had lots of light. It was kind of enlightening. Why did you choose to do that? At the same time, for me, the following image is a beautiful shot. It is a very joyful shot: you see dancing, drinking. And then again, there’s a lot of sadness. It’s such a beautiful story on it’s own after that film. It was indeed a little bit of risk to add this epilogue, because we could have just as easily ended with a circle. But I think the fundamental thing of cinema is that you can only tell it with
a cut. It’s something you have to look for an hour and a half: and then you cut. I really enjoyed it. Also, this element, after doing it and seeing it with an audience for the first time: seeing everybody going “oh!” Even me, I was surprised. It really worked. To be very honest, the ending came on the set. I didn’t write that epilogue. I never write my endings very specific in my scripts, I really believe you build up to it. My beginnings are very founded, and we build on top of that. All your three movies so far have been rather spiritual, will the forth one continue the path? I believe the themes are not necessarily so spiritual, but the languages are. I really see that there’s something sacred in the visual language of films, photos or paintings. In this one I used the themes because that’s where I come from. I didn’t want to make a point about religious theme. I think at the end it’s humanity at the centre of every film, the rest is just a story. Religious stories are also about human beings. I don’t think there’s a need to continue in that way. There’s no idea yet. If it comes around, why not. That’s not the direction of my work, I think. I don’t want to make a point that God is good or bad, or whether he exists or not. Are you a religious person? Why are you interested in this subject? It’s a difficult question. Why? I have no idea why. It’s something that I had as a child, an unexplainable attraction to the stories of saints. I like the idea of having miracles and these kinds of characters. I really enjoy all these apocalypse stories. As a kid, my biggest wish was to become a saint. I thought I was the reincarnation of Saint Francis. I was waiting for the birds with my hands wide open. I like the idea that at one point there was the Holy Ghost that inspired mankind to do fantastic things: build beautiful buildings, make fantastic music, make most fascinating images. And I think that’s something incredible. It’s not about believing in God or not, it’s about respecting that. 13
Vinko Möderndorfer is a real polymath. Not only does he make movies and theatre performances, but also writes books for adults and children. Telling stories is the most important thing for him. When he has a good one, he decides which medium will be the best to express it. In Tallinn we could watch his new social drama, Inferno. How did you come up with the idea for the film? Where did you find inspiration?
Vinko Möderndorfer and Eva Rohrman SLOVENIA, CROATIA International Official Competition
Review and Interview by Monika Martyniuk 16
Vinko Möderndorfer (director): The inspiration came from a real story. There is a woman in the film who burnt – it really happened in Slovakia, Bulgaria and Spain. It was a protest against social problems, so I didn’t use my imagination a lot. I just put different things together in one story. Your movie seems to be a strong proclamation about current social issues in your country, doesn’t it? VM: It’s a film about problems in Slovenia, but not only there – it concerns Europe in general. We were under socialism before, but after we broke free, we were forced to manage with the new capitalism.
Eva Rohrman (producer): It’s not a problem that affects only the working class, because it doesn’t matter if you are a worker, middle class representative, young, well-educated or not – there are so many unemployed people. This is a movie about human dignity. You can live in the worst circumstances, but as long as you save your dignity, everything is fine. If you lose it, that is the end. VM: The main character isn’t important in the world of politics, he would only ike to get a job. He wants to take care of his family, especially his children because they are the future. ER: Younger generations will grow up and they won’t have a bright perspective. It means that there is definitely something wrong with our society. We have a constitutional right to work and everybody should have a possibility to get a job, that’s why people go on the streets and protest. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change anything. Could you describe the incentives of strikers from your film? VM: The older man, Wladimir, is like people from Solidarnosc. He was established in the old union.
review A frame with faces of two children who sit at the table and blow candles. This is one of the opening scenes of Inferno by Vinko Möderndorfer, the film where hope fades away along with the light of candles. It’s not the first time the director faces perplexing social problems. Married couple with the preschool children would like to lead a life with no frills. There is a lot of love, but... not enough money. Every day poses a threat of being evicted. The film deals with the last 25 years when many factories in Slovenia became privatised and the struggle with capitalism began. It gets deeper, darker and more tragic with time. The situation is similar to the succeeding levels of Dante’s hell in the Divine Comedy, from which the motto of the story was taken. We could describe this movie as a drama or even a “social horror”, but the director’s statement is: “it’s just a simple story about an unemployed family”. Indeed, it is. But simple, doesn’t mean without dramatic events. The form of the film is really impressive, it was considered very carefully. There are two main spaces – domestic and industrial, which is exactly the centre of hell. Divided in a very clarified way, shots from the flat are held on muted and cold colours, while the office is intensely red and full of socrealist symbols like a huge painting of workers. The shots of Marx and Lenin busts are presented with an obscure staircase in the background, which is reached only by the rays of light. We can observe the main character pacing the stairs as he steps into an infernal abyss. Monumental buildings of the national institutions intensify the feeling
ER: Wladimir lived at times, when the trade union and protests were important and could change something. He believes that as soon as he organizes a press conference to tell the media about his situation, his life will change in some mysterious way. But this system of thinking is passive which makes him a tragic character. The protests shown in the film were very convincing. Was it hard to shoot them? ER: We shot real protests in Slovenia. After that, there were a lot of negative articles in the newspapers, some even suggested cancelling the shootings. Fortunately, we managed to finish our story. Your film shows the EU as a negative institution. What do you think about it? VM: Establishing EU was a very good idea, but nowadays membership is not very beneficial for countries like Poland, Slovenia, Croatia. Actually, Eastern Europe works for Central Europe. The ending of the film leaves us with a question – an innocent young man gets killed. It could be the beginning of a world-changing revolution.
of him being cornered, the same effect is achieved by combining entrapping images taken by street cameras with the traditional ones. The point is that we don’t know exactly who is looking through those cameras. For sure, someone (or something) who watches is in power. In this way, the represented world could be an accurate ilustration of Panopticon – an unusual prison invented by Jeremy Bentham and carefully described by Michel Foucault. The story is full of tension and emotions. The characters live in hard and dark times, so they have to be strong and desperate. What’s striking for the viewer, is that the plot focuses mainly on the negative effects of the capitalist policy and EU membership. There are scenes which are so intrusive that can become unbearable, such as suffering of the main character lost in plenty of problems with the EU flag waving in the background. The film isn’t perfect. On the one hand, many important symbols were really helpful in recognizing the contexts of the story, but on the other there were too rough in some moments. Anyway, it’s a realy strong voice which poses the rhetorical question about the future of Europe. Maybe, it tells us more about our times than we would like to know. Especially, when we consider another title of this festival, Field of Dogs by Lech Majewski, that also took inspiration from Dante and his murk vision of life after death. And if we don’t change anything, we are on the straight way to hell.
There could be a lot of blood on the streets, probably a lot of innocent people would die. So we should find other solutions to change the current situation. The vision of the world in Inferno is dark and upsetting. Is there any hope? VM: Hope is in revolutions [laughs]. Actually, I think that our global situation is very bad, but you can find positive elements in my film, too. The main character is a good example. He is very strong, he fights, ready for everything to save his children and their future. Of course he makes many mistakes during this fight, but he never gives up. Your film isn’t the easiest one to watch. It leaves the audience with many unanswered questions. Why? ER: Because this is a mission of art. VM: People who watch films, read books and are interested in art will find answers. Art has to ask a lot of questions, only then it can change the world.
Film & Fashion Affair in Tallinn – The Fashion Section at the Black Nights Film Festival Every single day with putting the clothes on you make a statement. The statement you cannot avoid. Because even if you left the house naked, you’d declare something – even stronger than before. The way you look expresses who you are – especially in the culture of images we live in. Fashion Section at the Black Nights Film Festival was born 8 years ago from a brand cooperation and was a part of its promotion. People got more and more interested, so it’s been growing throughout the years, gaining the popularity. This year before the screenings we could listen to professional introductions – the local fashion authorities have been asked to do a research on a certain topic and make the audience familiar with it. But bringing the film to the festival wasn’t always easy – frankly speaking, it’s usually very hard. This year there was a battle for Iris: “They wanted to premiere ‘Iris’ in Amsterdam, which is happening at the same time as Tallinn, so I had to write to them several times and keep asking if they manage to schedule the premiere screening at the beginning, so we could show it here too...” – says Helen Saluveer, thanks to whom the section exist (and is doing very well). There are many links between film and fashion – two artefacts from the border of the art and industry. First of all, they’re both art which has to be sold, and as such are valued mainly by the box-office and the profits. Artistic processes can also be comparable. While preparing particular scenes 18
and frames directors often use mood boards as tools of visual projection, just as fashion designers do. Of course, both fields affect themselves, many fashion collections have been inspired by films. It is enough to mention the most recent ones: Vertigo for Saint Laurent, The Grand Budapest Hotel for Anna Sui as a proposition for F/W 2014 or The Little Mermaid characters, being promoted on Bobby Abley’s catwalk for S/S 2015. There are also films which use fashion as the key element of the mise en scène and get inspired by certain fashion styles. A carefully prepared image of clothes and hairstyles is a part of a convincing performance and stands as an inner movie reality (as we could see in The Theory of Everything – International Official Competition). On the other hand, it could give a film a refreshing touch of modernity and make the story more attractive or contemporary. We could see a very specific use of fashion creating an essential atmosphere and significance in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (costumes designed by Miuccia Prada were film’s forte) or Anna Karenina (where Dior’s styling gave the artistic vision of Joe Wright even more dimensions). What would be the Breakfast at Tiffany’s without Hubert de Givenchy, Annie Hall without Ralph Lauren or Belle de jour if it hadn’t been touched by Yves Saint Laurent’s fashion genius? The special Oscar category is there for a reason – even if prizes go to costume designers who decided to use a particular style, not fashion houses themselves. (After all, the brand rising sales are more important than a golden statuette which matters only in the film industry).
Let us not forget about the biggest and most influential movie festival – the one taking place in Cannes. Ironically, for most people not- SO-much-into- movies , the Cannes Film Festival is only about fashion. Some of them may know who won the main prize, the rest from all over the wolrd just get excited watching movie stars who present beautiful outfits on the red carpet. And they dream their own American dreams.
put on him as a designer by the brand’s heritage and style codes, as well as keep the terms and the budget altogether with great expectations and attempts of finding your own way in a new place. Beautiful designs are only a pretext to tell a story of people creating the brand – from its owner to the sewing craftsmen.
And here we arrive at the point where the connection between fashion and film is the firmest: they both transfer people into the world of their desires. “It gives you an access to another world” – says Sarah Jessica Parker about the fashion phenomenon. Could you describe the charm of cinema in better words?
Unfortunately, both films about Ives Saint Laurent launched this year are a fashion disaster. As well Jalil Lespert (Yves Saint Laurent), as Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent, Fashion Section) preferred to focus on sexual preferences, social scandals and private life of the great Yves. There’s very little (or nothing) about his collections, inspirations and achievements, which constituted him as an artist and a fashion creator. Instead, we have loads of parties and sex pictures, making an impression that this great fashion empire has built itself on its own.
“I’m so interested in fashion mainly because it reflects what’s going on in the society” – claims Anna Wintour, the legendary Vogue’s editor-in-chief. Thanks to In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye (Fashion Section, 2014) we could realize that fashion reflects social fascinations and traumas, as well as defines the condition of societies. And Vogue used to be a not-only-fashion magazine: over the years it has been documenting historical changes (World Wars, the Jet Age, sexual revolution), which go together with fashion. The Vogue archives illustrate the social perception of femininity and roles performed by women in society. And even if the story seems static in photographs, it has its own pace and dynamics.
What we also have to consider is a fashion and film input on beauty canons. The actresses become fashion muses (Monica Bellucci, Keira Knightley, Marion Cottilard), and models are playing in movies (Małgosia Bela, Milla Jovovich, Cara Delevingne). This problem has been presented in the Star (Russia, 2013), presented in the Panorama section. The movie tells a story of teenage Masha who is blindly following the model of beauty launched by film and fashion industry. Her schedule is severely precise: she has to do a plastic surgery for her ears, breast, legs and lips. Her ladder to perfection is – on the one hand – reckless following the rules of the visual culture, on the other – a horrifying proof of the power of images.
A fascination with what other people look like, presented in Bill Cunningham New York (Fashion Section, 2010), proved that the way we dress is the first social attraction. The way you look makes other people curious about you and can become a pretext to get into an interaction. Extreme popularity of the Humans of New York initiative has profoundly proven this. In the world of melting social relations any reason to talk and listen to each other should be highly appreciated.
A very interesting way of using fashion is presented in the Advanced Style, another title from the Fashion Section. Dressing up the 60-, 80-and 90-year-old ladies introduced in a film becomes an everyday art. In fashion they find great love and a way of cheerful and dignified ageing. The passion, exemplified by this mode, is a way of keeping seniors in the ageing societies successful, happy and occupied. It can be a beginning of resolving a pressing social problem. Anyway, the industry is going grey!
Dior and I presented in this year’s Fashion Section testifies that fashion has always been focused on people. Not only the ones that wear outfits – but also on the fashion creators. This great documentary tells a story of Raf Simons employed as an artistic director in the famous Dior fashion house. This very talented artist and a decent man is presented in the movie with all his weaknesses and inner struggles. In the documentary not only can we see a fascinating creative process leading to the final haute couture collection, but also a whole range of emotions and tasks which he has to deal with. The film shows how he tries to overcome the artistic restraints
A brunch witch friends, then the art galleries marathon, a coffee in a fancy place and visiting vintage boutiques as a dessert. Everything documented on Instagram – this is how many see the life of fashion people. What’s really behind the lens of the camera remains unseen. 12 of 15 completely sold-out screenings prove the social need of getting closer to the real phenomenon of fashion. Watching the Fashion Section at the Black Night Film Festival is a great opportunity to see that fashion is much more than “just clothes”. Patrycja Calinska 19
Life in a Fishbowl Baldvin Zophoníasson, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic - Tridens Competition Could you imagine a fishbowl with only one fish inside? Even if it was a gold fish, it would be a completely miserable view, wouldn’t it? The loneliness and helplessness of that fish is pretty easy to notice. It seems to be a trap, a place where you are imprisoned and can do nothing to change the situation. The characters of Life in a Fishbowl by Baldvin Zophoníasson are in a bowl too. They carry a heavy luggage of experiences. Those people are confused by being lost in their past, dreams, fears, aspirations and emotions. Eik, Solvi and Mori live in the same city but they don’t know each other. They lead their daily lives, overwhelmed by the routine. One day, in result of weird circumstances, they meet – how strangers could accidentaly became an important part of each others’ stories is the most amazing thing in this film. Eik is a young single mother. She tries to manage, so above working as an educator in the kindergarden, she takes an extra job in the evenings as a call girl. Solvi, having dreamt about football career before, sits at the desk in a bank instead running on the football pitch. It’s a typical corporation where each employee has a place in the hierarchy. There is one character left. It’s Mori – the hero of a pen and a bottle filled up with whisky. The man who looks as if he was homeless spends all days walking around the city. His thoughts often come back to the dramatic events from the past. Sometimes he writes poetry and drinks. To be honest, mainly drinks. He is typical hermit outstanding from the rest of the society, which is influenced by his loneliness. 20
What do those three people have in common? All of them go in circles of their current life situation. According to the title, the corporation where Solvi works could also be some kind of a fishbowl – not only because of the way it is run, but also the way it looks. All those sterile, modern interiors full of glass furniture, closed spaces with huge windows which are a border between the “corpoland” and the rest of the world. Officialy, everything looks pure and secure, but under the surface there is something completely different. And it’s not as innocent as it appears to be. Similar thing can be said about the characters’ feelings – they hide them under the coat made of propriety and silence. While watching Life in a Fishbowl, we can observe how characters carry on the neverending struggles for a brighter future. At least, for a different one. It’s a valuable story about the relationships and feelings. Every viewer can find something interesting in it. I was mostly moved by the situations taken from the daily life – problems with communication, embarrassing meetings which we would prefer to avoid, solitude even if we are surrounded by plenty of people. What is most important, however, is that the movie shows how difficult it is to break glazed cloche made of the unspoken words and emotions not spilled out. So maybe, it’s a warning that we shouldn’t even try to construct these traps. Maybe the best place for the fish to live is the ocean. Monika Martyniuk
Refugiado Diego Lerman, France, Argentina, Colombia, Poland, Germany - 18 Selected Titles A defeated superhero: this is our first impression of Matias, a seven-year-old who has been left behind at a birthday party. Once he gets home, the reason his mum didn’t pick him up becomes clear: she is lying on the floor, unconscious, amidst pieces of broken glass. With surprising maturity, he helps her get on her feet and follows her into an ambulance, still wearing his red cape. And yet, there is little he can do to save the day. Diego Lerman’s Refugiado is a tale of domestic abuse that offers no background information. Instead, it plunges us straight into the narration, following Laura and Matias as they flee from her violent husband, Fabian. Moving from a women’s shelter and a guesthouse to a seedy motel, the two move across gritty Buenos Aires, trying to cover their tracks as Fabian attempts to find them. While we never see his face, he is threateningly present throughout the film, with his insistent phone calls and the terror in Laura’s eyes as she watches her back.
Refugiado’s plot is supported by its cinematography: the hand-held camera follows the mother and the child at close range, as if it was stalking them. Often at a low height (roughly that of Matias’), it focuses tightly on their backs or stays uncomfortably close to their faces, capturing their anxiety and constricting them within the frame, increasing the sense of impending danger that pervades the film. The oppressive framing and lighting – the camera angles are often tight, and Matias and Laura are frequently shot in very narrow, poorly lit spaces – effectively convey the sense of en-
trapment they feel. Most scenes take place at night, and the artificial lighting casts a sombre, unnatural tinge on their faces, a reminder of the dark place the characters find themselves in. A genuinely suspenseful scene takes place when Laura goes back to the family house to pack their bags. She thinks Fabian will be at work, but a neighbour tells her he’s on his way up. As the camera jumps from Matias, throwing a tantrum in the bathroom, to Laura, begging and screaming for him to get out, we find ourselves holding our breath, conscious of every second ticking past and completely unable to predict what will happen. Offering us no chances to let our guard down, the pace of the film is very claustrophobic, once again a case of mirroring between the mise-en-scène and the characters’ situation. Sebastián Molinaro and Julieta Díaz are convincing as Matias and Laura; in particular Molinaro whose interpretation of Matias is a quiet, subdued portrayal of a child that has seen too much for his age and often needs to act as an adult, caring for his traumatised mother. His trauma and solitude will follow him until the end of the film. The closing shot is at the same time hopeful and sad, and we cannot help but worry about the impact domestic violence has left on him. As night falls on Matias, we get the feeling this particular nightmare might be over – but is it over for good? We can’t be sure. Chiara Puntil
â&#x20AC;&#x153;...is this a movie or real life?â&#x20AC;? 23
The Man in the Orange Jacket Aik Karapetian Latvia Tridens Competition
Review and Interview by Thomas Humphrey 24
When I met Aik at PÖFF’s official hotel, the setting seemed somewhat perfect. Omen- esque music played in the background, and on the walls were abstract murals of trees in red. It didn’t take a massive leap of imagination to think we were surrounded by bloodsplatters from some awful crime. Aik was obviously unfazed though, and he met my questions without trepidation. Do you think your film fits in with a trend at Tallinn Black Nights (alongside It Follows and Over Your Dead Body) where horror directors are placing more emphasis on being psychologically thrilling? Yeah, but I think this is something very specific to horror, because what is fear? It’s a subjective impulse. And if you’re trying to show horror or fear, you should show the subjective side of the character. So of course we follow dreams, illusions or hallucinations. But I don’t think you can make a film just about a dream because the audience will lose interest. Actually, that was one of the things we were working on in the edit, because there were too many dream scenes. So we started to make more depictions of thoughts or fantasies in his head. Do you think this emphasis on subjectivity or
greater psychological realism might be a trend in all contemporary cinema? Maybe the truth is that there is more a trend of mixing genres. I mean that’s very popular now. Maybe in that way directors try to find something fresh and interesting in storytelling. I think it’s a very interesting thing, how you can transform a genre, particularly horror which is so cliché. Why did you decide to make a horror film? For filmmakers nowadays it’s almost impossible to get people interested in seeing their movie at the cinema. And genre helps you to draw people’s attention to your movie. I mean if it’s a crime drama about a brother who fucks his sister no one will be interested, but if it’s a horror it will be more interesting to people. You previously told Nisimazine that you had started a horror film before your first feature People Out There. Is The Man in the Orange Jacket the film you were talking about, and should we therefore see this film as your first or second film? It is that film, but no. After People Out There finished shooting we just continued to shoot The
review There come times when you just have to say fuck the system and those who control it. In fact, many of us will recognise the mood of Aik Karapetian’s The Man in the Orange Jacket. How we strike back at those who trespass against us therefore becomes an important question. Do you take on the institutionalised powers-that-be with an Occupy esque stand against injustice? Or do you head out to your shed, grab a toolbox, and take whatever tools you fancy to your employer’s head? The latter is the plot of The Man in the Orange Jacket. Except the titular man does then occupy his boss’ house once the murderous deed is done. And quite a house it is too: imagine an oligarch’s grotesque mansion.
Indeed The Man in the Orange Jacket always seems to be commenting on the post-Recession world, suggesting that nowhere is now safe from the social discord left behind. The dark, powerful events irresistibly connote Marxist thought. And the morose, stuttering, jolting filming style (particularly of the feature’s brilliant opening scene) makes The Man in the Orange Jacket an assured first step for Latvian horror. Nevertheless, Karapetian has clearly kept his finger firmly on the global pulse of horror too. He has perceptively placed himself into the middle of a debate about what horror should be. A debate which is taking place across PÖFF right now.
Certainly the man’s actions are extreme (and there’s a gorgeous irony to him doing them in a health-and-safety high-visibility jacket). But it’s all for the greater good, right? Well, not exactly. Following the protagonist’s redistribution of wealth (to himself), he simply repulsively envelopes himself in gluttony and prostitutes. It’s real antihero stuff, except Karapetian perhaps doesn’t quite do the directorial leg work necessary to make us really associate with the usurper.
As Maarja Hindoalla has discussed, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows strives to take horror away from buckets of mindless blood and gore towards a more immersive, suspenseful experience. Whereas Takashi Miike is grafting blood and gore to the most artistic frame possible (in this case a preexisting Japanese ghost story). There are particularly strong parallels between the latter and The Man in the Orange Jacket too, because both flit between dreams, illusions and visions to such an extent that we end up highly uncertain as to what is and isn’t happening.
This is an important problem, because it stops the film’s hedonistic romp from being as thrilling as it could be. Karapetian is clearly hell bent on creating a fog of ambiguity in his film though, and I suspect his key goal is to defer judgement to us. If you haven’t guessed, then, Karapetian has been rather clever with the slasher genre (something you don’t get to say very often).
Whilst it is exciting to see horror move towards this aesthetic of psychological confusion, the comparison of these two works is also revealing. Miike’s film has a brilliance of intensity which The Man in the Orange Jacket lacks. But maybe this is just an effect which a superior production budget buys. Either way Karapetian’s new film, like People Out There, once again suggests Karapetian’s great future potential.
Man in the Orange Jacket. At that stage only fifty percent of the material had been shot. And it was transformed by the time we finished. I don’t think Man in the Orange Jacket would be as good as it is without People Out There, because that was very good experience for me. In that movie I wanted to show everything I am able to do, and that’s one of the main mistakes for a first-time director. That film helped me develop a self censorship inside, which made The Man in the Orange Jacket more pure and clean. I learnt to cut out a lot, because the first cut was like a hundredand t en minutes, now it’s like seventy. So do you think shortening the film really helped with this particular movie? Yes. That’s the main reason I cut it. One of the cuts was ninety minutes, but after the sixty-fifth minute, it was not so interesting to watch, because you get tired with the house it’s set in and the one character. I mean, if your main character is not Marlon Brando it’s almost impossible to keep the audience’s attention with one actor. Actually, I was fighting during the editing to build up any sympathy from the audience towards the main character, because he is such a dislikeable character. I just tried to make them forget that he’s a bad guy, especially when he gets killed. I
wanted to make them think, oh no, he’s dying. Even though he was an awful guy. Your film is obviously violent, but do you think there is a sinister onus on violence towards women? Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. But why are women as victims so popular in horror? Because they are weaker, they are not able to protect themselves. Otherwise, I would say this is a very feminist movie, actually. In the end, the main character is killed, along with his very superficial attitude which men have towards women. It’s the way men think, I want only to satisfy my desires. But yeah, I’ve read some reviews where I was criticised for making a very unfeminist movie. Yes women are killed in very disgusting ways, but actually that scene where he imagines how he would kill the prostitutes depicts his own inability to live the way he wants. It’s about his impotence: the way he places his fingers into women who are dying is a depiction of his inability to live as a normal person.
Red Amnesia Wang Xiaoshuai, China - 18 Selected Titles There is a long tradition of riddles in China, and Wang Xiaoshuai’s Red Amnesia makes a wonderful addition. The film languidly shows several days in the life of Meijuan, an elderly Chinese woman who seems lonely and disconnected from her family. She is plagued by voiceless phone calls, and a young male vagabond turns up wherever she goes. For nearly all the film how these characters are interlinked seems exquisitely out of reach, but it seems to do with China’s difficult past. Viewers should pay particular attention to the subtle chain of shots from a dilapidated factory, and the ghostly, rhythmic sounds which accompany them. These gain evergreater significance before ultimately unfolding into revelations. Indeed, Xiaoshuai’s film is not like assembling a puzzle with all the pieces before you; instead it’s like the director chucks fragment at you, one at a time. Far from teasing you though, the experience proves to be brilliantly disarming.
Red Amnesia also sits neatly amongst a Chinese New Wave intent on communicating the realities of the People’s Republic through a tissue of confusion. The film thus seems like an excellent insight into modern -day China. And with his protagonist, Xiaoshuai primarily exposes the giant white elephant which is the question of what China will do with its vast generation of aging baby boomers. But Meijuan also affectionately represents a generation of stubbornly imposing, almost pedantic Chinese matriarchs. The film observes her with fly-on-the-wall type footage, invasive close-ups and voyeuristic shots which follow her gaze. The latter is by far the most common, delicately placing emphasis on her generation’s perspective. Xiaoshuai also shows Meijuan being constantly cut off, or people not having time 26
for her. At 48, the director has been incredibly savvy with his glimpse at the isolated fear and infirmity of later life. Equally though, Meijuan tries to respect her sons’ choices, but cannot compute her youngest’s homosexuality. As a result, China’s intergenerational battles seem perpetual. And the frustration of the baby boomers’ descendants is just as expressed through the malevolent young home-invader we see. Once in Meijuan’s home, for example, he iconoclastically destroys her shrine of very 50s-communist-China photos. His proves to be a very oedipal rage too, as the two protagonists share a turbulent frisson. Together they produce an uncanny double who draw forth the ghostly consequences of China’s past. The film is filled with communism’s longing, idealistic songs of old too, but Meijuan never joins those who sing them. Interestingly, though, the film isn’t about amnesia at all. Quite the opposite: Meijuan seems unable to forget. The senility attributed to her is often only assumed or projected. If anything, “red amnesia” refers to a collective attempt to suppress memories of China after its turbulent Revolution. Likewise, the question of what “red” refers to is constant. Is it overtly a mention of communism? Or does it refer to the red objects present: the boy’s hat or the telephone which invades Meijuan’s privacy? The adroit motif of electrical short-circuitings even seductively hints that Meijuan’s persecution might stem from a higher level. Red Amnesia really does keep you guessing, and it’s a beautiful piece of confusion which stands up to multiple viewings. Thomas Humphrey
#chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator Joe Piscatella, Netherlands - Just Film Ladies and gentlemen from the glittering age of Facebook! If posting funny videos and selfies or sharing your opinions with the rest of the world comply a pleasure more voyeuristic than actually useful, be aware that there’s nothing voyeuristic in these pictures. This is real, and it’s happening for real, in a far away country, to people like you, just not as lucky. Let’s face the truth, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have a huge power, as they create a giant network where our “connection status” to the world is stated by the amount of clicks and likes. But what if a video that received a half million views were able to unleash a revolution? They say that one beatwing can cause a hurricane. This is more or less true, and that’s what Ala’a Basatneh, a 19-year-old girl from Syria living in Chicago, tries to do at home from her laptop: start a revolution in her country. A few years ago, Lybian and Egyptian regimes were overthrown in a little more than three weeks, after a massive web campaign. In the wake of these revolutionary waves, Joe Piscatella’s #chicagoGirl – The Social Network Takes on a Dictator explains the huge role of the Internet, its power to create a network where citizens can connect to each other and empathize with the spirit of the revolution. And eventually be pushed to rise up against the dictator, in this case Bashar al-Assad. This strong and convincing documentary – yet not politically biased – has a very good structure. It is fluid, has a flowing rhythm and, more importantly, offers a thorough look on the Syrian issue, starting from the introduction of Bashar al -Assad’s family, ironically compared to the Corleones. The movie collects testimonies from the experts
involved in the international debate on the Syrian Civil War, who faithfully reconstruct the events and offer the audience a wider perspective on the entire issue. Their strong statements are balanced with an even stronger collection of citizen journalism videos made by young dissidents that show how the Government reacted to their peaceful protests: by opening fire and bombing the cities. Videos shot by the Syrian citizen journalists like Bassel Al Shahade – eventually killed in a gunfire – have a very strong content indeed, but it is impossible to turn away from them. After all, ignoring the problem does not just simply erase it, does it? Their succesfully fulfilled purpose was in fact to provide tangible evidence to the atrocities perpetrated by the Syrian government. As one of the experts states in the movie, there are still ongoing trials against the Nazi leaders of the World War II because, as they say, there is not enough evidence to prove their guilt. These documents, however, do exist and cannot be ignored by the world superpowers in the future. Might that be forthcoming or not, the UN has yet done little to intervene, except sending six – yes, six – UN Peacekeepers. Eventually #chicagoGirl is one of those movies that will awaken your awareness on what is happening in a world not too far away. If you feel a great desire to act growing in you towards the end of the film, do not worry, it is quite a normal feeling brought up by an incisive act of informing. Marta Tudisco
â&#x20AC;&#x153;It seemed like nothing was happening... But the point was to spot the right places and let the film magic unfold.â&#x20AC;?
Summertime Inari Niemi FINLAND P�FF’s Vitamin Boost
Review and Interview by Zuzanna Kwiatkowska 30
After successful documentary attempts the time has come for a fiction film. Inari Niemi, a young Finnish director arrived in Tallinn with her feature debut Summertime. The story about three girls who decided to spend their last summer of carelessness in picturesque Hanko is a part of the PÖFF’s Vitamin Boost program, and not without a reason. This story will transfer you from the grey reality to the sunny seaside. Do you feel warmer now? If not, the director will easily convince you to find time for this amusement.
script and with actors. I think this is the most important part of the director’s work.
This is your first feature movie. Was it hard to work on a fictional story?
I might identify with Iiris, because like her I was a waitress for a long time. As opposite to her, however, I knew what I would do in the future. My sister, who wrote the script, is in a situation similar to Iiris’, she also has an older sister with a settled family situation. It is probable that during writing she was drawing from her own experience. But for me this subject is quite universal. Women at different ages have been
I’ve always wanted to make fiction films. I was surprised to end up with documentaries [laughs] – it was odd for me that I couldn’t foresee what would happen. I can’t say that it wasn’t enjoyable, but I prefer working on a
Why did you decide on a quite popular topic of the late entry into adulthood? I wanted to show 25-year-old people’s crisis through a woman’s lenses. There are lots of similar movies in Finland which are focused on the male maturation but they don’t concern women’s issues. Is it based on your own experience from this period?
review What is it like to be 25 years old? Somebody would say it is the best period of life, when you are mature enough to do whatever you want without parental supervision, and at the same time you don’t have responsibilities associated with work or family. But, what is more important, it can also be the most confusing moment when you are not really sure what to do with the rest of your life. Inari Niemi’s feature debut is focused on an existential crisis affecting 25-year-old people. Three girls: Iiris (Iina Kuustonen), Karoliina (Anna Paavilainen) and Eeva (Minka Kuustonen) arrive to the seaside town of Hanko to take jobs as waitresses. The plan is simple – spend the last summer of freedom in the most carefree way possible. During the day they work at the cafeteria, at night they host costume parties or go clubbing. But it’s hard to run away from problems when everyday issues come back with a morning hangover. None of them has decided what to in the near future: Iiris is still thinking about the faculty she should choose, Karoliina almost finished her studies, but has no idea where she would like to work, Eeva jumps from one faculty to another looking for something she would be able to learn.
Summertime has one huge advantage. It is real. The main characters as well as the supporting ones are played with lightness congruent with the comic genre. It is possible to feel the sparkles and tension between the protagonists – as if they had known each other for a long time and feel at ease in their company. Unfortunately good acting is not always able to fill gaps in the script what is especially seen at the beginning of the movie. Dialogues are flat, the lines seem to be overdone. Fortunately, it becomes better or at least funnier when the most clumsy person – Eeva – appears.
giving me a feedback that they felt some kind of a link with the characters. Why did you choose comedy? It came naturally, I really wanted to make a film about girls in some tragic situation, but not so tragic – as in the scene with a pregnancy test which comes in negative. There was tension but without having to solve the problem of an unwanted child. We have enough tough topics in the contemporary cinema. What’s next? Do you plan another comedy? I don’t want to get stuck in comedies. I like to challenge myself, looking for something new, which I’ve never done before. Before my first documentary film I didn’t have a clue how to make it, but I succeeded. But, I have to admit, that my special delight are comedies or dramedies. They have this specific kind of humor – sarcastic, like in
Warm colours of the milieu and disobliging conversations create a holiday climate contrasting with quite minimalistic décor of the coffee shop. The girls are not compatible with the white walls and black uniforms they have to wear. This is a way of emphasizing the temporality of their positions, a reminder that they are still searching for their place in the adult life. Although this film touches on the popular issue of the late entry into adulthood, it is made a little cursorily. Without any serious problems, the protagonists seem to remain at the same place because small inconveniences are not able to start a revolution in their lives or their way of thinking. When all the “adults” seem to be equally lost in life choices, the question is: whether they want an alteration. Remaining in stagnation has, after all, its good sides. While accusing the film of shallowness, we have to remember that it has been put in the Vitamin Boost program. And it fulfills its task. In cold November and amidst the movies dealing with sad and serious matters, it is nice to find something amusing. Especially, if you are of the similar age as the characters – it is interesting to see people facing the same choices and realize that they are less important than you might have thought. Sometimes we need to look from the outside to grasp that staying between adolescence and adulthood has to be ended. After all, nobody wants to get stuck in a summer job forever.
Summertime. At the beginning it looks like a very light film about girls having fun during their holidays but it can surprise you. It becomes deeper and some sad things come into view. How is Summertime congruent with the contemporary Finnish cinematography? This is a particular Finnish movie. Most of them, especially in this decade, aren’t very light, probably because of Aki Olavi Kaurismäki – Finnish director most well-known internationally. His films are beautiful, but very serious as well. That is the view foreigners have on our cinematography. I really enjoy the thought that the new picture of the Finnish cinema appears on foreign film festivals.
A Location Tour to Eastern Estonia Film industry has many mysteries. Everything that happens before screening of a movie in the cinema seems enigmatic for most of the people. However, sometimes we have a chance to glance behind a curtain. A scouting-location trip, organised by the Viru Film Fund for the filmmakers visiting the Black Nights Film Festival, was one of those rare opportunities. Viru Film Fund came into existence at the end of 2012. Its main purpose is to promote and popularize making films in this particular area: the north-eastern part of Estonia. The organization, founded on the basis of Riga Film Fund, has already participated in production of 8 movies, such as Warsaw 1944, The East and North-Western Tales. The fact that this place is a promising film location is proven by In the Crosswinds by Martti Helde – one of the Black Nights Film Festival highlights and a great Estonian cinematography achievement, which has been shot in this area (but shot too late to receive the bailout).
The Foundation is a second step in supporting filmmaking in this region – and the natural continuation for Kaljo Kiisk grant, founded in 2010. Right now it is constituted by four donors, Ida-Viru County parishes: Toila, Jõhvi, Mäetaguse and Illuka, which form a board. The possible financial support is currently up to 5000€, but they’re running negotiations with five new potential partners and donors (as well as to cooperate with the other funds). The aim is to rise the bailout up to 40 000€.
best to turn an insecurity of being a small and unknown country into a power with great successes. Their attitude is full of positive and fresh energy – it helps to create new, original things.
How could this chilly desolated area encourage international filmmakers to come here and find their landscapes between all these Brezhnev-, Khrouchtchev-and Stalin-style buildings? First of all, Estonia has a variety of landscapes. On the one hand, medieval and pretty charming Old Town in Tallinn combined with the modern urban centre, looks like a typical contemporary city in Europe. On the other hand, there are also suburbs – huge and wild open spaces close to the cities. “It’s very convenient when planning transport or logistics” – emphasizes Felix Gill (experienced in journalism, actually working as a film producer, his new project is a horror movie). Secondly, a very important factor is the atmosphere. Local people would like to attract filmmakers from abroad, so they try to do their
However, what’s most important in the film production are costs. And this creates the biggest advantage of this area – and this part of Europe in general. Labour, accommodation, equipment – when putting them all together, we realize, that the difference of cost could decide of movie’s “to be or not to be”. This chance is tempting especially for the independent producers or small production companies (which are mainly European domain). A pity that most of the producers on the trip were American, not much interested in shooting in Estonia. For European coproductions with bigger budgets or moving the shooting beyond US would be problematic and unprofitable. The fact that Virumaa’s landscape and architecture are pretty particular is at same time a possibility and an obstacle. You
if there are to be any serious market players involved. Garrick Dion from the Bold Films (co-producing, among others, Whiplash and Nightcrawler), says: “You always need a neutral space, which can play whatever you need – as well as the sound isolated interiors. Without studios and soundstages it’ll be difficult to make any progress in filmmaking”. The above mentioned deserted factory automatically appears as an ideal horror scenery or the place for a science fiction story about post apocalyptic world. It’s amazing and enormous space with giant potential. “Can you imagine how many people worked here? Each of those workers has a different biography. It gives so many love stories, anecdotes from their daily life, many wonderful memories – it’s a great idea for a film, isn’t it?” – wonders one of the producers. Despite that, it is rather doubtful to imagine this factory as a location for a social drama. It requires numerous changes to adapt this place for a film setting. It is of course connected with huge expenses, so maybe it is more worthwhile to build a similar scenery in the Hollywood studio. Another very characteristic area is Sillamäe (called as the “Northern Odessa”) – industrial city established in 1946, nowadays known for a museum and buildings from the Stalin age. Next destination was The Kohtla Mine, once enriched with the oil shale. But, is it enough to interest and stimulate the imagination of the American filmmakers? We will see.
can find very unique, theatrically unrealistic places as if taken from the past, contrasted with the contemporary buildings (Narva’s City Hall and the edifice of the University), as well as postapocalyptic, neglected Soviet remains (as the abandoned, but still majestic Kreenholm Textile Factory). Although, the very important thing is to inform people from abroad that this small film market is ready to cooperate: “What people from Hollywood need to know, is that there’s all they need to make a film: you have people, you have skills, you have equipment. And also this kind of fantastic energy, which doesn’t allow you to get bored!” – says one of the participants of the trip. Moreover, pretty nearby there are Polish camera operators, famous all over the world, and Czech specialeffects specialists, who has been working for the biggest Hollywood productions for years now. The biggest obstacle seems to be the insufficient movie infrastructure. Soundstages and studios need to be developed
Moreover, there is an issue of money. Apart from the Estonian statement that this country is ready and willing to participate in international projects, it appears not entirely prepared to do so. Estonia is quite a new country on the film market. Funds, organizations and film commissions are not not definitely established yet. They change quite often, thus are unable to offer proper financial support. And it is highly probable that tax reliefs in the USA are more profitable than in Europe, especially when we take American filmmakers into consideration. Let’s not forget about the unpredictable weather and a big distance between this patch of land and the main industry’s centre: Hollywood. That’s why shooting transfers would not always be viable. The undeniable chance though remains local – Baltic or Eastern European co-productions for whom the financial support of 40 000€ could be an argument for making the production possible. Anyway, the supports of Viru Film Fund are praise-worthy and make an interesting example of promotion of the northeastern part of Europe, which still remains a huge land to discover. Patrycja Calinska & Monika Martyniuk 33
FidelioAlice’s Journey Lucie Borleteau FRANCE Panorama
“The length of a movie, be that a short or a feature film, is relevant only if it gets the story to its full and ultimate development,” Lucie Borleteau says. Fidelio – Alice’s Journey represents her debut as director of a feature film, after several short movies. Young and determined, Borleteau has a clear philosophy about her own way of making movies. Permeated with delicacy and uncommon calmness, her gaze on reality penetrated by the ‘filter of love’ for her work, makes Fidelio a homogeneous mixture of reality and fantasy, legends and common myths on universal stories about love and relationships.
emotionally deeper to be explored enough in a documentary. I didn’t want real people to get exposed and share their intimacy, so I decided to write a fiction film. Alice, the protagonist, is of course a real character in the sense that she reflects some aspects of my friend’s life; they both look similar and had similar experiences on board, but the main intricate love story, for example, is fictional and does not come from her life.
A she-mechanic on a merchant ship full of men is something quite unusual to see. Where did you get this idea?
Both. I was very determined to make this movie, so I have done a lot of research but I have also traveled on a cargo ship for three months. Actually, I wrote the first draft of the script while we were sailing the Atlantic Ocean and I was the only woman passenger on board. I had the chance to discover what a sailor’s life is like.
It all started with my desire to make a portrait of my best friend who works in the merchant navy. We have been friends since highschool, and when I decided to make movies she decided to attend the merchant navy school to become a sailor. She fell in love with it, and now she is still working as a mechanical engineer.
Review and Interview by Marta Tudisco 34
During the movie there are many scenes where we can be truly aware of the sailors’ life on board. Did you sail yourself or just did some research?
So your movie is a sort of a documentary on her life?
You succesfully blended different thoughts – about self discovery, love, work, independence – into a flowing stream, and you did it with particular delicacy. Was it for this particular story or this is just how you feel about making movies?
At the beginning I wanted to make a documentary, but then I realized that life on a boat can be something bigger and
I think that probably this is my way of making movies. Maybe it was particularly relevant for this movie to be intimate and
review Departure is just the beginning of the journey back home – to paraphrase Homer’s milestone poem about Ulysses. But in Lucie Borleteau’s film, as she says, references to The Odyssey are either purely coincidental or ironic. Yet, in the end it is impossible not to notice a common message both stories share. If you thought that a mechanical engineer is not a job that suits women, well, give it a second thought. Alice, a 30-year-old woman, is called aboard the Fidelio, a merchant ship, to replace a man who died in an accident. On terra firma, she leaves her boyfriend Felix whom she’s madly in love with. On board, she finds greater love. And a diary of the deceased man which unexpectedly reflects the girl’s emotions and anxieties during the trip. For Alice this journey will be an opportunity to face her deepest insecurities and try to find balance between two lives, the stable one on terra firma, and the unstable, passionate and tumultuous one at sea. Time to turn up your nose at a woman who does a man’s job is finally gone. Women have already gained space in the men’s sphere, and it is a fact that does not deserve further considerations. So do not expect a story on female emancipation, because Fidelio – Alice’s Journey cannot be further from this purpose. The French director manages to create a loyal and genuine portrait of sailors’ life on board, but the fact that the plot is driven by a woman can only allow us to delve into the depths of sailors’ intimacy and hidden gentleness. Literature and cinema have
delicate because of my wish to portrait someone I love, of course. It is also because I had the same feelings towards the sailors I met. This was my vision of the world that movies and literature sometimes describe as dominated by violent and masculine men, but in reality this is not true. So it was a beautiful territory to explore, a good place to describe relationship with humans – no matter if men or women. When I make movies I always try to see everything through the filter of love: I always love my characters, I would never put an awful villain in my stories. I love my actors, too and I choose people I want to work with wisely. Technically, I also like to put emphasis on little details and use nature as a spectrum for the characters’ intimate feelings.
often portrayed sailors as virile and masculine men, but in fact they hide an intense and emotional side. In this case, Lucie Borleteau resorts to a trick, a secret journal, to destroy these conventional stereotypes and put sailors in a new light. And the result is indeed very satisfactory. What makes the film very convincing is the fact that it is based on real events. Not only the director’s best friend is a mechanical engineer, but the director herself took a trip across the Atlantic to get to know the characters whose lives she then adapted for the film. For this reason, the scenes where the characters are working (very noisy), having fun (hilarious) and meditating (very deep), seem so true and real: because they are. And fortunately, the story is never full of pathos. You may wonder, why not making a documentary then? I will tell you – it wouldn’t be the same, since a documentary wouldn’t give the director enough space to expand some ideas and turn them into universal concepts you could identify with. The themes of a journey, loneliness, self- discovery, love – not necessarily monogamous, betrayal – not necessarily reprehensible, the stability of terra firma and the sea’s meditative power are indeed universal, and, in Borleteau’s movie, they intertwine and overlap without creating any contrasts. And eventually you get to learn that the destination is not important, unless you find Ithaca within you.
man’s job. When writing the script I was tempted to turn it into a story about a 20-year-old girl on her first working experience, fighting to find a place in that world. Then I changed my mind, because I thought it had already been done in many other movies. How was making a full-length feature, after many short movies?
Not that many and not that short, actually! They last a bit more than thirty minutes, which is not a short movie length. This is why I have never been that brave or that good to make a short movie, because I love telling stories and stories take their time to take shape. In this sense, I don’t find many You managed not to banalize the story by making a differences in making a short or a full-length movie, movie on women’s emancipation. You kind of give it I put the same energy in making both, length has to for granted that women today gained space into a work for the movie itself. men’s world. Was it hard to keep this balance? Alice’s travel has something to do with the Ulysses’ Not really, because the movie comes from real journey. But where is her Ithaca? life. If I had made this movie twenty years ago, it would have been totally different, since there were Keeping some little references to The Odyssey was very few sailor women at that time and they would like a joke to me. An interpretation of the Ulysses’ struggle to be accepted by men. Alice herself is travel can be that at the end it was just a journey an experienced 30-year-old woman who can do a to find himself. In Alice’s case, I think it can be her boyfriend, but maybe ultimately Ithaca is in herself.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was cold and windy. My hands were freezing, but the peaceful moment in the streetlight seemed a perfect scene to be photographed.â&#x20AC;? 36
In the Sands of Babylon Mohamed Al-Daradji Iraq, UK, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands International Official Competition
Review and Interview by Chiara Puntil 38
Mohamed Al-Daradji’s In the Sands of Babylon starts with an apocalyptic scene: two soldiers stumble through a desert, amidst smoke and sand. A recurrent scene in war films, this one takes on an eerie significance, for we know the film is not just a fiction, as the director tells us in the opening. Comprising fiction, documentary and archival footage, Al-Daradji’s film is a descent into Iraq’s memory, history and trauma which focuses on the twelve years spanning from the 1991 Gulf War to the US invasion in 2003. Together with the director, who seeks to understand what happened in Saddam’s prison during those years, we listen to three witnesses as they recount their painful past in the attempt to reconcile with it.
In the Sands of Babylon is a companion piece to the 2010 Son of Babylon, which follows a woman as she walks across Iraq searching for her son Ibrahim, who never came back from the war. Has the idea for the Sands always been there, or did it come at a later stage? “From the beginning, when I was making the Son of Babylon, I was already thinking about making a film that showed the other side of the story. I wrote a script about a fictional character, Ibrahim, but I didn’t know yet there would be a documentary part too”.
While researching for the film, he met three people: a family friend who was imprisoned, a photographer and a farmer who lost an eye. It was important for him to add their voices to his project, especially as he reflected on a remark made by his mother: “She once told me, ‘Why are you making a fiction? Our lives are already a film!’ In Iraq, the line between reality and fiction is a very thin one,” he explains. Al-Daradji wanted to challenge himself as a director, and spent a year in postproduction, putting all the different pieces together. As a result, reality and fiction are very tightly interwoven in the Sands, with the fictional part closely mirroring the experiences described by the three witnesses. A particularly powerful example of the said correspondence happens after Bassim (the family friend) tells us how a prison guard used pliers to pull his toenails out, which is immediately followed by a close-up of Ibrahim’s feet. Far from being didactic or graphical, this device still forces us to visualise the horrors that went on behind prison walls, where most of the fictional part takes place.
In the Sands of Babylon revolves around the Uprising, a rebellion that took place in 1991, shortly after the Gulf War. “A lot of people don’t know that after the Gulf War, there was an uprising by the Iraqi people, which received no support from the coalition led
by the Americans,” the director points out. “Those who opposed the regime rose up against Saddam, and were controlling 14 of the 18 provinces. Had we had that support, we could have brought the regime to an end. Instead, the rebels were imprisoned and brutally murdered.” This is why he chooses to focus on 1991 rather than the more recent war. “1991 and the Uprising changed the history of Iraq, and left a scar on its people. For me, the 2003 war is coming from that war, and focusing on 1991 also helps understand post-2003 events better”.
you make a film, you make it for today and tomorrow. You make it for the generation of today, so they understand and analyse the points it’s making, because cinema is a reflection of our life. And of course, for the future generations, too.” This is especially important in Iraq: “There are a lot of stories that need to be told there. We need the cinema that tells our history, our stories, to leave a memory to the generations that will come after we die. They will ask questions, and the cinema will be there to give people memories, helping them picture what happened.”
We can definitely see the impact the Uprising had on the three witnesses, all victims of the regime, who describe their lives in the aftermath of the rebellion. Getting to that stage was not easy: “None of them wanted to talk about what happened, because it had a huge psychological impact on them”. It was a difficult process for him too. “Sometimes I was almost forcing [the photographer] to speak, I was crying with him when he cried, because it was so emotional for him to go back. It was an easy process for neither of us, but I think it helped us in the end”. And it helped him as well: “As a director but also personally, as Mohamed, it was very important for me to understand what happened in those prisons, so that I could let 1991 go, and move on from there.”
This is why he is adamant that he should keep living and working there. “As an Iraqi, I need to invest in and focus on my country. There aren’t many filmmakers there, so I see it as a duty to my country, to my family, to my people, to make films like this, because these are stories that need to be told, nationally and internationally”.
And the unravelling of the past, with the inevitable emotions and painful memories that are were evoked in the process, is exactly what makes the Sands so powerful, so raw. Like Al-Daradji, we feel the pain that weighs down the characters as they recall the very things they have tried so hard to forget, burying them deep down inside. They describe the atrocities they have seen and suffered from, which stripped them not only of their ideals, but of their humanity, too.
In the Sands of Babylon is a strong, necessary film, which exposes the horrors of Saddam’s regime. The reference to Babylon in the title is not casual: “Babylon symbolises Iraqi history, but what is left of it? How can you destroy the country, destroy mankind and make a mass grave in Babylon, where Iraq’s civilisation and heritage are? It goes to show the brutality of the dictatorship and what it has done to Iraq”. It’s an essential viewing for Western audiences, many of whom would probably never have heard about the Uprising from the Iraqi point of view, as they reflect on that chapter of their recent history. Who does Mohamed Al-Daradji want to reach out to? “When I make a film, I make it for myself first – as a director, I am selfish! I don’t think about a specific audience, because I want it to be seen internationally. In Arabic we have a saying: ‘If you go deep into your culture, you can be international’. We are all humans after all, regardless of the country. My film portrays humans, and I want it to reach out to humans”.
Is his work being affected, given the recent rise of ISIS? “It’s already affecting us hugely, both physically and psychologically, but we need to move on, we need to continue to work, we need to think that these terrorists should not affect us”. And indeed, his next film looks at extremism: “Journey to God [working title: The Train Station] shows 90 seconds after a 23-year-old female suicide bomber kills herself and 28 innocent people in the main train station in Baghdad. During those 90 seconds she realises what she has done and wishes she could go back”. Why a film on this particular subject? “I think it’s a reaction to what’s going on. I want to try and understand the mentality of somebody who ignores the idea of understanding, ignores your opinion, he’s against you as a human being, because if you’re not with him, then you’re against him.” That’s a risky topic, though. “Yes, it’s a big challenge, it’s not stable, it makes it harder to work with foreigners, but in the end you need to work, and you need to live.” His other project concerns a mobile cinema: “We don’t have cinemas in Iraq, they were destroyed after 2003, so we take our films and show them around the cities and villages.” And his films have been received rather well: when the Sands was screened in Baghdad six months ago, roughly 1500 people attended. “People came to me telling me their stories, and it’s so important for me to have that kind of feedback. The protagonists of my film were there too and felt so proud of themselves, for being part of it, speaking up and telling exactly what happened, even if it at first it was painful and they didn’t want to talk about it”. And that, perhaps, is the key to Al-Daradji’s work: confronting past and present horrors, however harrowing they may be, as the only way to move forwards. Burying the truth under the sand doesn’t make it go away – unearthing it only takes a shovel. Or, in this case, a camera.
It is important for him that his films work as a form of memory. “When 39
Go on Living Alejandra Sánchez Mexico International Official Competition
Review and Interview by Marta Tudisco 40
Strong and brave: this is exactly what Alejandra Sánchez, director of Go on Living, looks like at first glance. You will immediately notice a mixture of sorrow and sadness in her eyes; they must have seen many horrors in her crime-plagued country. She shows me a poster with the faces of more than twenty people who have recently disappeared in Mexico – she is here in Tallinn to tell us a story that is likely to go unnoticed, like many others in her country. Go on Living is about two kids forced on a road trip to escape a death threat in their hometown, Juárez, after their mother was killed and their grandmother shot. The film, Sánchez’ first full-length feature after a long experience in documentaries, is based on real events and personal life of the director.
How did you come up with the idea for the movie?
Go on Living is a development of my first film, Bajo Juárez – The City that Devours Its Daughters. It is a documentary about the murders that have been committed against women in Juárez Chihuahua, a town located at the border between Mexico and the US. There has been many murders in that area since 1996, but in that period I was working on Alejandra’s case, she was the mother of Jade an Kaleb, who star in my movie as non-professional actors. Ten years after Alejandra’s murder, I received a phone call from their family lawyer, who told me that someone had attacked the kids’ grandmother What is your philosophy about making movies? and that they needed my help to run away from Juárez. I took them in a safe place, we spent two I make films to understand the human essence. months together waiting for their grandmother To understand what kind of “cells” – not in a to recover from the injuries. Those two months biological, but mostly emotional way – we are encouraged me to make a film about this story, but for the first time I mixed fiction with docucomposed of.
review Raise their hands those who have never felt suffocated in their motherland. You look around and all you can see is an agonizing stasis, interrupted by some terrifying episodes of violence from time to time. You realize that your country, rather than protecting is trying to kill you and puts the lives of your beloved at risk. The only solution you come up with is to jump in the car and drive as far as possible, in search of a safe place to start a brand new life. Basically, this is what the protagonists of Alejandra Sánchez’ Go on Living struggle with. The first few minutes briefly summarize the story of two Mexican brothers, Jade and Kaleb. When they were little they witnessed the death of their mother, Alejandra, an activist for the women’s rights in Mexico, and after that episode they moved to their grandmother’s. With the history seeming to repeat itself, she too gets injured as a consequence of a violent shooting, the city of Juárez proves to be a dangerous and unsafe place for the kids once again. That’s why Martha, a former journalist with a mysterious and secretly painful past, decides to bring the children with her to the Mexico City and organize an escape plan from the country. The three of them, initially distrustful towards each other, go on the road and travel, both physically and metaphorically, in search of a temporary safe place. Paranoia and a strong sense of persecution dominate the first part of the film; the journey becomes extremely frustrating, rather alienating. At first, you may wonder if perhaps you should get up and light a cigarette to relieve the tension that eventually does not lead to a final climax. Undoubtedly, the danger is there for these two traumatized kids, as reflected by their eyecontact and the way they hold their hands at the first sign of danger.
mentary. How was it for the children, as non professional actors, to relive the tension they had been through? I am sure it stirred some very painful memories. But I also think that the opportunity to be in this movie gave them a chance to finally speak up and process their grief. It was a very good experience for them to overcome their traumas about what happened to their mother and grandmother. Now they’re fortunately living a perfectly normal life in the Mexico City. For those who did not have the chance to see Bajo Juárez it might be hard to understand the social conditions of women in the Mexican society. Can you tell us more about it? The State of Mexico and its people are
However, what is the meaning of this pilgrimage, the true extent of which remains unknown? If you have not seen Sánchez’ previous work, Bajo Juárez – The City that Devours Its Daughters, this movie unfortunately will not provide sufficient food for thought so as to help you figure out exactly what type of social or political threat are they are fleeing from. The elements contained in the movie can only be understood by those who actually lie within that situation, otherwise it is really hard to put them in a specific context. For this reason, the viewers might find it difficult to follow the direction the film wants to pursue, because nothing really significant happens, regardless of you hoping that this unclear tension is finally broken by some crucial event. This perhaps is what the film basically lacks: a turning point. And this makes it very tedious. Maybe the parable might eventually be ‘the journey is the destination’ type, and therefore the desire to find a safe place away from danger is the engine that drives the characters, but yet there is no sufficient evidence to support this hypothesis. Something begins to take shape towards the end of the movie when the three fugitives finally manage to establish a sincere emotional relationship and at that moment we understand that their stories have at least one point in common: sadly, all of them have lost at least one of their beloved. Now, the journey finally acquires a deeper meaning the point at the end is just to process your grief and find a way to go on living. Too bad we can understand the message only in the last fifteen minutes of the movie.
going through a very difficult period. Now the Government is mixed up with the organized crime. Most of our 32 regions in Mexico are involved with criminal clans, so we have problems with violence, corruption, homicides, kidnapping, people disappearing into the void. We have been crossing a very bad period in the last twenty years, and now our society is getting tired of it. Considering this situation, how do you think your movies are received in Mexico? My films get distribution, but actually the problem is not with the issues I deal with. What I think is that there is very little room left for the Mexican cinema, since Hollywood movies always gain more attention. There is just not much space for us to show our projects.
Tu Dors Nicole
Stéphane Lafleur, Canada - Competition of North American Indies Making a film about boredom without causing your audience to doze off is not the easiest of challenges, but Stéphane Lafleur’s Tu dors Nicole arguably succeeds – his film really manages to evoke lazy, empty summer afternoons that seem to go on forever and yet go by so quickly. Home alone as her parents are away on holiday, Nicole is bored out of her brains. Together with her best friend Véronique, they decide to buy a ticket to Iceland on a whim. Counting down the days to their departure, Nicole spends her time at her summer job in a charity shop, bitching about her ex-boyfriend’s engagement and fending off the advances of Martin, the kid she babysits. The arrival of her brother with his band shakes things up a little, and gives rise to new, unforeseen dynamics between Nicole, Véronique and the band’s new drummer. Nicole’s ennui and “I just don’t know what to do with myself” vibe are perfectly rendered in black and white, episodical snippets that are for the most part filmed with a static camera. Underneath its sleepy, suburban surface, the film hides some very funny moments. For example, the exchanges between Nicole and Martin, who has an absurdly adult voice and speaks in soap opera cliches, are comically surreal, especially given Nicole’s not-quite-there-yet transition into adulthood. Because of its visual aspect and subject matter, it is tempting to compare Tu dors Nicole to Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha. To an extent, this is a fair point: both are shot in black and white, both deal with the transition into adulthood and the insecurities it causes, both cast an honest look at the ups and downs 42
of the female friendship. But this is where similarities end: while Frances Ha is a talkative, dynamic film, Tu dors Nicole is as slow as a summer afternoon, lazily drifting past us. Also, unlike in Frances Ha, we are never quite sure about what Nicole thinks, as she very seldom talks about her feelings, hiding behind sarcastic or quizzical remarks. Don’t expect to see Nicole dancing to Bowie’s Modern Love, either – although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The theme of growing up, or not wanting to do so, is perhaps the most interesting part of the film because it makes Nicole stoic, accepting whatever life throws at her. Everything she does backfires somehow, and while she keeps on going, we can’t help but feel that she is just stuck and running in circles (ironically, Martin at some point advises her that running would do her good). And just to stress the point, sometimes we have no idea where the film is going either. But the fadeto-black end of each episode brings a feeling of closure, and ultimately the film is about the ending of a phase and the reluctant beginning of the next.
Tu dors Nicole could sound tedious to most, and perhaps only those with a tendency to sympathise with losers might find it appealing. Nevertheless, as someone explains to Nicole, “a geyser is like an underground volcano”, and however farfetched this may sound, a seemingly dormant underground force is perhaps the best way to describe the both the film and its titular protagonist. Chiara Puntil
Sophie Artus, Israel - International Official Competition A Tale of Love and Darkness is one of the books discussed in Valley, the first feature-length film by Sophie Artus. Unlike Amos Oz’s novel, Valley is a tale of darkness only, for even love brings nothing but misery. From the opening scene, with its ominous score, we can foresee that something bad is about to happen, a feeling further confirmed by the appearance of a gun soon afterwards. But to find out exactly how bad things will get, we have to wait. As the film progresses, violence escalates, and the viewer is asked to endure the mounting tension, which Artus successfully keeps intact throughout the film, instilling in us an unshakeable feeling of looming danger. Josh is an overweight boy who picks on David, the new guy at school. David is more of a quiet type, prone to shutting the world out with his iPod and finding an escape in literature. Despite a bad first impression, the two become friends, and we discover they have a lot in common, for both are hurt and come from troubled households. David’s mom has died (the film infers that it was a suicide) and he lives with his father, who works in security and enjoys taking his son to a shooting range. Josh, a bully, is in turn bullied by his extremely aggressive brother, who beats him and threatens him at knife point on a daily basis. The film interestingly taps into the characters’ understanding of masculinity as being about strength and physical prowess, and this is especially evident in Josh’s brother, who trains daily in the hope of joining the army and has extremely homopho-
bic views, which he often takes out on his brother. But he, too, might have something to hide, and this only increases the sense of threat and overall pressure. The actors’ performances are incredibly compelling, and Neveh Tzur and Maor Schweitzer (as Josh and his brother respectively) fully manage to express the pain and anger that are harboured within their characters. Valley’s intent is to shine a light on tales of domestic violence, a topic Artus feels is never discussed in Israel, as it is often overshadowed by the country’s political situation. Hers is an interesting approach, for the film has very few instances of graphical violence, preferring to focus on the effect it has on those involved instead. Artus’ study of violence, which surrounds the protagonists and eventually engulfs them, is very realistic, and the film’s strongest suit is the way it captures pent-up feelings and the explosive way in which they force their way out. In this sense, Valley is a universal story, but given its provenance, it is hard not to factor the very tense Israeli situation as one of the causes for the brutalisation of the characters, which especially resonates in Josh’s “kill or be killed” mindset. Because of the tense atmosphere it successfully creates, Valley feels like a practical example of the proverbial Chekhov’s gun. As such, we are very much aware that sooner or later that gun will be fired, so no surprises there. But then again, sometimes – and this is definitely the case for Valley – the journey is far more important than the destination. Chiara Puntil
Following P�FF’s Focus on Polish Cinema, Where Does the Future of Polish Cinema Lie? I wanted to find out what some of Poland’s opinion formers (both present and future) thought about PÖFF’s focus on the Polish film industry. And I wanted to know what they hoped their industry would become. So I quizzed Polish film critics Ula Lipinska, Ola Salwa (who had been invited to PÖFF by the Polish Film Institute), and my Nisimazine colleague Patrycja Calinska. I started by asking them their thoughts on PÖFF’s Focus on Polish Cinema. Ola felt that: “the selection is definitely interesting. Unlike Romanian cinema, Polish cinema doesn’t have one particular style. So I think choosing masterpieces like ‘Man of Iron’ and contemporary films can give at least some idea of what Polish cinema is like.” Ula seemed to agree, “the selection definitely points to the fact that Polish cinema is diverse.” Patrycja felt differently, though. To her, the New Films and G for Generations parts of programme were “terrible”. They said, “nothing specific about Polish cinema” and were “totally incoherent.” She would rather have seen films like Ida, as they would have provided, “interesting examples of Polish cinema’s (r)evolution.” And Ula seemed to agree: “I found the selection a bit chaotic and not very representative of what is happening in Polish cinema now.” Next I wanted to find out if there was a greater consensus on the future of Polish cinema. Ula had mentioned that, “Polish cinema is now searching for a new identity, and might be looking to Romanian cinema for examples”. She later also explained why this might be happening: “In my opinion, this comes from the fact that Polish cinema has to exist in an international market which demands a unique style and original point of view. And young Polish directors know that.” 46
So I put this search for a new identity to Patrycja. She affirmed, “yes, you can see it clearly in films by Andrzej Jakimowski, Wojciech Smarzowski and new generation of filmmakers. They’ve really elaborated – and individualised – their cinematography.” Ola seemed to agree too, “I think every Polish arthouse director now is trying to find their own style.” But she added that Poland had, “an industry of very strong personalities. So I don’t think they want to be grouped as a group of filmmakers who do things in a certain way.”
Nevertheless, Patrycja had suggested that Poland was undergoing another trend: Poles now wanted to discuss their past free from clichés. She described this as a process of “revising,” where there would be, “no more glorifying monuments of Polish martyrs.” And she hoped Polish cinema would now, “focus on contemporary topics close to young people.” When I suggested this new drive to Ola, she agreed, “there’s definitely a trend of trying to show the way Polish history was, without necessarily glorifying it”. She also expressed a similar hope, “I would love to see the Polish industry do some films about the 90s, because this is like a blank spot. And I would love it if Polish cinema could react more to what’s happening now.”
Ula suggested why: “for many years, the Polish Film Institute fuelled this trend by organising contests for scripts that deal with our history and by supporting projects about these topics.” However, she implied this was becoming complex: “now, this trend, if it is not too strong a word, is created more by directors. They are interested in conveying unique content in their films, so naturally they are looking for it in Polish history, keeping in mind that it is our history which distinguishes us from the rest of the world.” However, Antoniak and Wasilewski, as Ola put it, certainly seem to be “reaching out for wider subjects, like social subjects or film genres.”
I had been struck before coming to Tallinn by Polish cinema’s tendency to use the past to talk about the present.
Finally though, I wanted to hear what else these representatives of Poland’s film industry would change. Ula answered that: “There are still not enough young producers and directors to make a revolution in Polish cinema (even if a young director is able to make their first feature being very young, they have to collaborate with an older, establish producer). No programme created for young filmmakers by established ones can let the fresh air into our industry. What is missed is a spirit of revolution.” Ola also knew what she wanted to change: “I am hoping there will be more female characters, because there’s not a lot of filmmakers who are interested in showing female characters.” I was intrigued. I thought of directors like Agnieszka Holland or Urszula Antoniak, and great Polish female characters like Tonia in Interrogation or Stokrotka in Kanal, and I had thought that Polish cinema didn’t do too badly in this respect. But then I realised that perhaps every other Polish film I could think of centred on the masculine crisis. So I hope this article will give some much-needed space to female voices in the Polish film industry, and allow their opinions on what is changing to be heard. Thomas Humphrey
Different from what? There comes a time when it becomes necessary to question the meaning of a word and how it is able to influence a common thought. On the one hand, decades of psychoanalysis and scientific progress have made a major contribution to science, on the other, they have greatly distorted the meaning of two terms: normal and different. Whereas “normal” corresponds to a state of physical or mental health characterized by a set of attitudes and behavioral patterns accepted by the common sense, “different” is just the opposite. It takes very little to fall into this category: one more chromosome, an attention deficit disorder, a diagnosis of autism, a rare disease. This makes people “different” from us, but different... compared to what, exactly? If we continue to say that the world is beautiful because it is varied, why are we surprised with the realization that there are different shades of normalcy, and that this does not necessarily mean the end of the world, but the beginning of a journey with new boundaries? Sometimes “common sensical” values are influenced by the opinions presented by the big media which often refrain from comparisons. Sometimes common sense would need to be patiently guided towards a serene and peaceful acceptance of realities different from the one it is used to know. Maybe sometimes this common sense rather than turn around and ignore the world should go to the cinema and see what is going on over there? Because in the cinemas reality comes alive, screening rooms become the container for new narrative paths and spokesmen for everchanging realities. Movies make you think and accept stories about those little heroes who inhabit this world in all their beauty, rather than reject them. Fortunately, on this front, cinema has recently produced small pearls of great value that have opened a window wider on the world that is still struggling to speak without embarrassment. The work of directors such as Xavier Dolan, Morgan Matthews, Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar became a sort of social mission. Their intention is not to subject the viewer to another docufilm about the genesis and development of a disease or a mental disorder; that level of information and narrative has already been successfully achieved and outdone (remember the wonderful Francis Ford Coppola’s Jack?). Given that now we know the extent of some – not all, of course – “shades of reality”, the real question that filmmakers want to emphasize is that these people, contrary to stereotypes, lead perfectly normal lives... for themselves! In the recent years, the film scene has proven to be much more open to approach this issue in accordance with this fresh point of view and directors, by using different tones, stylistic and technical choices, inform the audience about the existence of the “differently normal” realities. Enter the mind of Steve Després, and you will see that, apparently, it has a square shape. Two black bars on the sides of the screen prevent us from observing through and through what happens at the edge of his life. With this peculiar formal choice Xavier Dolan, the Canadian 48
enfant prodige director of the worldwide acclaimed Mommy, decides to tell the story of a mother and her son, who suffers from ADHD. Black bars represent nothing but a limit for the viewer who has to get used to observing reality in a new way, rather than for the boy who on the contrary has the power to dominate his world, by stretching or shrinking the visual field as he pleases. Dramatic and tense are indeed prevailing moods, though sometimes they are muffled by the moments that give a sigh of deep relief. Scenes are often imbued with pathos, but at some point you forget about Steve’s disorder and focus on the domestic scenes that depict Steve, Diane and Kyla’s everyday lives, with a stunning gentleness. Autism as you might have never seen it – through the blue eyes of a 15-year-old boy. In X + Y, Morgan Matthews takes the act of seeing to a new level, by virtue of Nathan Ellis’ visual capabilities, which are influenced by a spectrum that combines autism and synesthesia together. Matthews adopts a peculiar formal style, especially when the objective cine-eye becomes subjective through the eyes of Nathan. The variability of the points of view in X + Y allows us to see the world from different angles, but when the world takes shape through the eyes of an autistic boy, new horizons and unexplored frontiers burst open in front of us. In that moment, perhaps only for a fraction of a second, we get to understand and accept his diversity as a simple chromatic shape of normality that surrounds him. One of the most brilliant examples of diversity in movies is the Indian film Margarita, with a Straw, by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar, whose protagonist is Laila, a college student in a wheelchair with a cerebral palsy. Here every stereotype related to the physical or intellectual limitations that can affect a person in a wheelchair falls miserably. To see a person who lives her illness without encountering any physical or social barrier, might seem overly indulgent. Nonetheless, it works for the story itself, especially for the cheerful way Laila addresses her small daily challenges. In her case – from a different height. It is important to note how the camera remains always at her height, without ever climbing over, to show the nature of her world. Still, the evolution of the story focuses on the common issues experienced by every human being at least once in a lifetime: moving to a new city, falling in love, having sex and relationships with family and the world outside. What’s different in all of this? Be sure that the issue is neither dealt with levity, nor is there any intention to minimize how these phenomena affect the lives of those involved. What these three works have in common, and what makes you think – and hope – that the cinema has finally found a new narrative formula to address the topic, is the approach. Diversity is perceived as such when treating that person differently. But if you adopt a vision free of prejudice, a point of view consistent with everyday reality, it is easy to open your eyes to a plurality of voices and pictures that make our world even more extraordinary. Marta Tudisco
Editor-in-Chief Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) Editor Mirona Nicola (Romania) Assistant Editor Ewa Wildner (Poland) International Coordinators Luisa Riviere (Colombia), Emilia Haukka (Finland) Design Francesca Merlo (Italy) Photography Daniel Allen (UK), Francesca Merlo (Italy), Emilia Haukka (Finland), Monika Martyniuk (Poland) Video-journalist Liisi Mölder (Estonia) Guest Tutor Ula Lipinska (Poland) Local coordinator Merli Antsmaa (Estonia) Image editor Edina Csüllög (Estonia) Writers Ula Lipinska (Poland), Zuzanna Kwiatkowska (Poland), Chiara Puntil (Italy), Patrycja Calinska (Poland), Thomas Humphrey (Italy), Matthias Van Hijfte (Belgium), Harro Rannamets (Estonia), Monika Martyniuk (Poland), Marta Tudisco (Italy), Ewa Wildner (Poland), Mirona Nicola (Romania), Maarja Hindoalla (Estonia), Fernando Vasquez (Portugal), Andrei Liimets (Estonia) Cover photo Daniel Allen (UK) Back photo Francesca Merlo (Italy) Special thanks to Tiina Lokk, Javier Garcia Puerto, Laurence Boyce, Heidi Koppel, Maris Hellrand, Helmut Janes and Emilie Toomela NISI MASA European Network of Young Cinema 99 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis 75010 Paris, France +33 (0)1 48 01 65 31 email@example.com www.nisimasa.com With the support of the Youth in Action of the European Union. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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