review 24th November 2014
the magazine by NISI MASA - European Network of Young Cinema
It follows The Way Out Citizen Starred up 10000 Km
from 10000 Km by Carlos Marques-Marcet
Apparently it’s very easy to stay in Estonia when one comes to visit, and halfway through the 18th edition of the Black Nights I can clearly see why. Covered under a thin layer of snow, Tallinn’s allure is as visible as ever – the town’s sleepy slowness could easily seduce even the most restless festival goers into a cosy winter sleep. After another year of festivals and premieres many would surely be glad to fall into one. Tallinn seems to be a perfect place to do so, hosting one of the most unusual feasts for movie enthusiasts there can be – red can be spotted here more plentifully in Christmas decorations rather than on carpets, camera lenses are directed towards medieval architecture rather than movie stars. Stripped of the glamour and glitch, the festival has its core untouched – the spotlight here is on the movies. The usual festival-rhythmed films seem to dominate the programme of this year’s Black Nights programme, as if celebrating the Christmas the drowsiness of the surroundings. Cars slowing down on the icy curves of Tallinn roads give the impression that everything is going to stand still in just a moment, especially after the screening of a much talked-about competition title “In the Crosswind”. I would not blink an eye if a camel suddenly appeared in the Old Town Christmas market – fairy-tale surroundings correspond with the charming eerieness of the “Big Animal”, presented in the Focus on Polish Cinema section. Together with the slow-paced “Supernova” and the Karlovy Vary winner “Corn Island”, most of the PÖFF’s titles are an appealing contemplation of the unhurried pace of life as seen in the streets of the Estonian capital. This third issue of the Nisimazine newsletter, however, focuses on those titles which may give you the injection of adrenaline. A screening of the disturbing and well-received Cannes premiere of “It Follows” will leave you suspiciously looking over your shoulder while walking the streets of Tallinn, sharp and violent “Starred up” and “Valley” work like a cup of strong coffee. Passion of “10 000 km” will leave you widely awake for hours after the screening, as well as the black humour of the “Citizen” and distressing events of the lives of Roma community in “The Way Out”. So, instead of the morning coffee, grab the Nisimazine newsletter – I can assure you that fresh and insightful reviews of our team have a similarly awakening effect.
NISIMAZINE TALLINN NOVEMBER 17-28, 2014 Edition of Friday, November 24 2014/#3 A magazine published by NISI MASA in the framework of a film journalism workshop for young Europeans EDITORIAL STAFF Editor-in-Chief Fernando Vasquez Editor Mirona Nicola Assistant Editor Ewa Wildner International Coordinator Luisa Riviere, Emilia Haukka Design Francesca Merlo Photography Liisi Mölder, Daniel Allen, Monika Martyniuk Guest Tutor Urszula Lipinska Local coordinator Merli Antsmaa Image editor Edina Csüllög Contributors to this issue Ewa Wildner (Poland), Maarja Hindoalla (Estonia), Monika Martyniuk (Poland), Thomas Humphrey (Italy), Fernando Vasquez (Portugal), Luisa Riviere (Colombia), Mirona Nicola (Romania) 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.
© Liisi Mölder (Estonia)
Picture of the day
It Follows David Robert Mitchell, USA - Just Film A frightened young girl running on high heels from something invisible and evil sounds like a typical beginning for a vulgar and sloppy horror film. But with that all the similarities between mediocre horror films and David Robert Mitchell’s glorious It Follows end. Without guts and grossness, David Robert Mitchell succeeds in creating tingling suspense à la Alfred Hitchcock. The plot is simple: a sexually transmitted horror starts to spread in the outskirts of Detroit. That means something inhuman will literary start to follow the person who gets the curse by having sex with someone already infected. Young and beautiful Jay is faced with moral dilemmas accompanying the frightful horror when shady Hugh passes it on to her. Thereto jealousy and tension start to emerge between the male members of the group of friends. The plot may sound ridiculous enough to hope for quite some humour, but laughs are the last thing to expect from It Follows. Instead you get continuous gut churning suspense. More than the story itself, the film succeeds in creating scraping tension, which becomes emotionally pleasantly exhausting. Director David Robert Mitchell doesn’t play on blood, guts and grossness, but maintains dignity. With relatively little violence he holds subtle, yet strong tension giving the audience only one little moment of comic relief. The creepy retro synth-pop score by Disasterpiece, who mainly writes soundtracks for video games, adds to the spookiness. It somewhat connects to Robin Couderts equivalently brilliant work in Franck Khalfoun’s masterpiece remake of Maniac in 2012. It is worth mentioning that the sound design is quite particular and plays an important role in the film. The bleak visuals and ghastly soundtrack create an odd and specific universe in the film, manipulating the viewer’s sense of time. The story seems to take place in grey, boring suburbs and abandoned Detroit,
but mixing retro vibes and modern elements leaves it unclear in which decade. The loitering impression and slight apathy of the youngsters is in accordance with the gloomy and dull scenery. The environment is one of the subjects which Mitchell refers to, but doesn’t get deeper into. He leaves plenty of ends untied and storylines unfinished, yet not in a bothering sense. For example, the film focuses rather obliquely on relationships between parents and teenagers. The difficulties in communication emerge first in the constant absence of parental supervision and repeated references to alcoholism; but really manifest themselves in the scene where the monster in Greg’s mom’s form kills Greg by seemingly having sex with him – an interesting reversed approach to the Oedipus complex. And finally when the gruesome creature takes – among many others – Jay’s father’s form. Other than the seemingly carelessly scattered references, which open up new dimensions for the film, the story itself has simple rules and it sticks to them. Which may be one of the most disturbing aspects of all – there seems to be not even a slightest chance for a miraculously happy ending. It Follows leaves you at unease and wanting to frequently look over your shoulder. Make sure there is always more than one exit to the room you’re in. Mitchell seems to be the multitalented kind of director who tries (and succeeds in) different genres. After The Myth of the American Sleepover and It Follows the bar is set quite high, but I doubt he will disappoint people who are into his kind of style. Maarja Hindoalla 2
The Way Out Petr Václav, Czech Republic-France - Panorama The never ending wandering from one place to another and struggling with every day adversities is how to life of many Roma looks like. It’s also a fate of Zaneta, the main character of The Way Out by Petr Václav film. We cannot say that her life is a piece of cake. She tries to make ends meet and lead a normal life, but it’s a struggle with windmills. The film begins when she goes to a medical visit and we know her as the daughter of an alcoholic. She had three abortions as a teenager because she wanted to finish school. Now she is living with her sister, daughter and the partner in a small and exiguous flat with very few furniture. She would like to have a regular job but in almost every place she is sent back with nothing because of her lack of experience. She dreams about a better future for her sister and daughter. Zaneta is a very pragmatic and sensible person who knows what she wants. Of course, sometimes she is a bit mixed-up, but could we imagine ourselves in a similar situation? Probably many people would be completely depressed. But she doesn’t give up – she is still fighting.
The film is quite intimate and authentic. This impression of reality could be stronger because the director was working mainly with nonprofessional actors. They are acting themselves – there are many authentic details in their behaviour. The landscapes are full of grey, overwhelming, socialist buildings. Those sceneries emphasise the helplessness of the characters in some situations which they are forced to manage. Scruffy spaces and wintry exteriors make the feeling of powerlessness and loneliness even more painful. Nevertheless, even in the worst situation there can also be some positivity. The film shows how strong the relationship is between family members and within the Roma community in general. They are supporting each other, they spend time together talking, singing, dancing and drinking. The Way Out can be a good opportunity to have a look at people which are, at the same time, so close and distant from one another. Above all, this film is the portrait of a brave and independent woman. She is responsible for loved ones and she is trying her best to take care of them. What’s more, the film makes an interesting statement in the discussion about racism. For many people in the Czech Republic there is only one good solution for the conflict between the Roma and the locals – displacing the two groups. The Czech demonstrate their hatred to Roma whenever they have an opportunity to do that. But it doesn’t only happen there. The strength of Petr Vaclav’s movie is its universality. It tells a story connected with social problems in one country, but similar things happen also in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania. It’s very important that actually Václav is drawing our attention to the case of the Roma. However, he doesn’t do that in an extraordinary way. The strongest part of the film is the acting (or maybe being) of characters because the story doesn’t bring surprising discoveries. The photography and narration are not spectacular, but maybe it isn’t necessary to be. Sometimes a whisper is stronger than a scream. Monika Martyniuk As such the film is a bit of a vehicle to talk about every polarity that’s arisen Poland since the end of World War II. And Jan flits between them all, adopting whatever view or job is going. Ultimately, this pattern of behaviour is presented as hilarious rather than contemptible too – seemingly in defence of Poland’s difficult historical past itself. However Citizen tries to encapsulate too much history, making the film seem like a flat miscellany, without satisfying climaxes or conclusions.
Citizen Jerzy Stuhr, POLAND - International Official Competition We all have days where we wonder, “why is it always me?” But Citizen takes that feeling to whole new levels. The film plays out like a relentless rollercoaster of schadenfreude across nearly six decades of Polish history, with the protagonist Jan Bratek experiencing one calamitous mishap after another in every possible political context. The result is almost a comedic essay on Sod’s Law.
This flatness is true for the style too. Sure the movie has a vaguely modern, non-linear thing going on. Plus the interspersed fragments of memory tie in with modern cinema’s penchant for states of consciousness (in this case a coma). But the film is conventional and safe – the sort of thing the whole family could watch, if it weren’t for the concatenated scenes of Jasmina Polak (perhaps tediously) undressing herself. Though maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Certainly Citizen’s handling of important features of Polish cultures, like family and religion, are clever. You can always concurrently see how Catholic family life should be, and how it has been disrupted - something perfectly represented by the barbed-wire wedding ring young Jan is forced to give to his wife. The structural interweaving is smart too. It pushes the viewer to reassemble what they’ve seen. The first flashback, for example, slyly refers to an event we haven’t even seen yet. We also often see the build up to events after they occur, creating a bitter-sweet sense of inevitability.
The film is also always on the clownish end of the spectrum, allowing Citizen to be both politically and socially incisive without being overbearingly high-brow (a rare achievement). Rather deliciously too, Jan (who is meant to represent the ultimate Polish Average Joe) is played by Polish institution Jerzy Stuhr. And if that wasn’t already enough Stuhr for you, Jerzy’s son Maciej plays Jan in his youth too! Indeed Stuhr senior – as actor, writer and director – proves quite a monolithic force in this film.
Such powerlessness remains an important theme throughout, creating a sharp lesson about the ridiculousness of the human condition. The film’s dying rasps even tells us “it won’t get any better”. As is the case with all good comedy though, this tragic fate never seems too painful. At least not enough for us to stop laughing. The question is whether it is okay for us to be laughing at the evils of the secret police or the persecution of the Jews?
Whereas the character Jan – an apathetical, almost amoral muddler – proves to be a rather downtrodden symbol of Poland itself. The character also fits perfectly into the Polish tradition as a plucky Polish adapter who has to act against his own wishes. And by the end of the film he even embodies the Polish flag: half covered in white plasters casts, half red with adversity’s wounds.
Perhaps the answer somewhat shockingly is yes. Maybe this is an important part of healing. Maybe this allows Stuhr to sidestep the clichés you see in every film about the Cold War (something of a cultural trend going on in Poland nowadays). Maybe this isn’t okay too, though. Either way, this film certainly doesn’t live up to Polish cinema’s usual standards. Thomas Humphrey
some point a prison therapist praises him for “staying with it, breathing with it”, Eric finds it surprising that he can actually make it – he doesn’t realise that people “make it” everyday, a countless number of times.
Starred Up David Mackenzie, UK - Just Film, 18 Selected Titles There are screenings that require preparation, there are those which can be watched on the spot. Starred Up definitely belongs to the first category, you may come out of the screening bruised if you don’t thicken your skin and acquire a Clint Eastwood pokerface before. So, ladies and gentlemen – “man up”, catch a pint of beer and bottle up your emotions in it, because David Mackenzie’s film is as broad-shouldered and masculine as it gets. It’s all about Love. Eric Love – who, contrary to his name, is hardly about affection at all. We enter the prison alongside him, feel pity when he’s subjected to a humiliating physical inspection. After all, he’s played by Jack O’Connell – those who saw ’71, will probably find it easier to empathise with the character and more likely to scream: leave the poor guy alone, he’s been through enough! That’s just the first impression, however, this baby-face is in fact a ticking bomb ready to set his fists in motion under the most trivial circumstances. For Eric is constricted not only by the prison walls, he’s held in custody of his own anger issues. At
Mackenzie, following his 2011 movie Perfect Sense, this time focuses on the sense of touch, this kind of physicality that makes your eyeballs go schizophrenic – struggling with the need of averting the gaze and being pinned to the screen at the same time. We enter the world in which the rules are dictated by the most vicious ones and those inventive enough to create a weapon out of a toothbrush and a razor. Testosterone overflows the eyes of most of the inhabitants of this hostile and muscular universe, making them blind to any kind of analysis that the viewers may subject them to. The prisoners may not know much about the connection between masculinity and social constructs, but they sure are the experts in more practical fields – knowing that it comes in handy to cover themselves in baby oil before putting up a fight with prison guards. Jack O’Connell’s acting will punch you right between the eyes, as well as Ben Mendelshon’s – both compose a dazzling duet of an apple-notfalling-far-from-the-tree prison family. Thanks to their harsh, yet emotional, performances Starred Up escapes the trap of being an entertainment of merely a thrill value, instead, Mackenzie manages to achieve genuinity and a razor-sharp psychological aspect. Based on a script written by a former prison therapist, Starred Up is a chillingly realistic film, episodes of which could easily be part of the evening news. This unusual “Love story” will twist your insides, as well as make you wish Cockney accent was as clear and intelligible as the message of the film. How many stars should Starred Up get? I would give a quite a few, but it doesn’t really matter, Eric would destroy them all anyway as if they were made of fragile glass. One thing you should know – as soon as the door of the cinema room will close behind you, with the ushers guarding it from the outside, you’ll become the prisoner of the story. It would take more than a circular walk captives take every day to shake it out and make the goosebumps fade away. Ewa Wildner
dings impossible to solve without physical contact. It is all there like a stab to the heart (or is it to the back?).
Carlos Marques-Marcet, SPAIN - Panorama Section Beware everyone currently dealing with the pleasures and hardships of a long distance relationship. Your intimate and private love life has just been adapted to the big screen, and what is perhaps most striking and insidious of all is the fact that it will probably feel more genuine than your very own experience. Spanish new comer Carlos Marques-Marcet´s debut feature, 10.000km, is the story of Alexandra (Natalia Tena) and Sergio (David Verdaguer), a young couple faced with a difficult yet inevitable decision. Following her professional dreams, Alexandra leaves Barcelona for Los Angeles, where she has been offered a yearlong photography residency. At first the couple´s needs seem to be effectively satisfied with frequent Skype chats, but as time moves on and the availability to continue their incessant internet connection wares out, tensions arise and love inescapably turns sour. Those who have tried such experiences themselves will quickly recognize the common rituals: dinners in front of a webcam, that piercing sensation when an unexpected photo is posted on Facebook, those moments of awkwardness when you have to pretend to be delighted by your partner’s exciting new conquests, those fights and misunderstan-
Told almost entirely through Skype conversations, text messages, Google Earth and emails, Mercet captured the true essence of love in the XXIst century with intimidating accuracy and almost unforgiving invasiveness. It is no surprise that despite the limitations of such techniques the editing work is discretely extraordinary. Mercet himself has been working as an editor for many years now, and without doubt has mastered the art to perfection, creating a film that should not flow in theory, yet each stroke feels perfectly in rhythm. The result is a work lacking a single dull moment despite the fact it only has two quite ordinary characters on screen. Mercet is skilful no doubt, but the greatest triumph of the film is in its performances. The unavoidable chemistry between Natalia Tena and David Verdaguer is all too obvious from the get go. The opening sequence, an almost 20 minute long sex and breakfast scene, is charged with enough tension and genuinity to make you cringe and drown in someone else´s intimacy. There is a magnetic quality to both characters, capable of seducing and repulsing you in equal measure. You would be forgiven for thinking such a film could easily fall into cheesy and over romantic paths, but you would also be wrong as Mercet avoids such traps with apparent ease. The hyper realism and pessimistic nature of 10.000Km is the only set of rules the film chooses to follow. As such, love does not always conquer, yet it does not die either. It is simply present, in a continuous metamorphosis, assuming lighter and darker tones and flavours as the mood changes. In other words, this is one of the most realistic and vital portrayals of love in recent years.
10.000km will most likely play with your emotions more then you usually are prepared to allow. It does so in relentless and unforgiving fashion, forcing you to either experience or relive much of the pain and joy of love and distance. It will hurt no doubt, but the final trick of Mercet´s debut is the rewarding sense you´ll surely feel by the end, making this an obligatory watch. Fernando Vasquez
® Monika Martyniuk
Interview with director
Sophie Artus actor actor Neveh Tzur Maor Svaicher from ‘Valley’, ISTRAEL - International Official Competition
The topic of the film has been covered before, but not in this particular way. Can you tell us more the specific angle you chose to view it in?
people to see it and think about how this affects teenagers, our children. The bigger picture, that of the war, is present, but it is not the point.
SA: The film came from my own experience as a teacher. I noticed that in Israel we don’t have movie about this. Films here deal often with the war, but we don’t have time to care of the violence of young people. It is an important subject in many other countries and I thought it was important to show it here as well. I don’t want to say something general- it’s a particular story. But I wanted
What was your experience with film before directing Valley? SA: I made several short movies before this first feature. I think I made short stories to make long stories. I moved to the long format for this one because I felt prepared, but also because I wanted to allow for this topic to be
® Monika Martyniuk
developed more deeply, to give the viewer time to think. You also wrote the script. Can you tell us about how you dosed the pace of the story? SA: I wanted to give it a particular rhythm. You can quickly understand that things are headed in a bad direction, but there is no escape. I wanted the spectator to not know exactly were we are going but not have time to think, that is why the rhythm is getting quicker. I like to work with sound design and it’s an aspect that I think about while I’m writing. I think it was important to put music in the film because I’m talking about young people, it’s part of their life. But the music also brings other things to the story. David for example is always listening to music on his headphones. When Josh is anxious, David gives him his iPod so he can calm down. It shows in the result that you’ve worked a lot with your actors. SA: We decided together not to bring in a trainer to help with the fight scenes. MS: We actually fought. We though that for this film it’s better that we do that. Of course, with responsibility, but to have it be as real as possible. SA: Real fights looks messy. So I asked them if they were willing to work like this. MS: I think that had we worked with the trainer, it would have shown. It would take the movie a bit down because everything else about it would have been so real as opposed to this ‘Jackie Chan’ rehearsed fights. SA: It brings, during the shooting, some of tension that you can see. NT: I agreed to do it, but it wasn’t really easy for me. At the same time, it’s true that it also put between the two of us a real tension during the shooting. Did your work as a teacher influence your interaction and guidance of the actors? SA: Everything was scripted. Then we had rehearsals, and when that happened I saw things in them that made me make little changes in my script. I wanted to let them intervene and adapt it to them, because they are very good actors. MS: I think that when you act the scene you are given, a lot of things come up. Sophie gave us all the space to bring from ourselves.
® Monika Martyniuk
So, in that sense, you had your idea and you kept building it around what was happening during the shooting. SA: No no no! That is what they are thinking (laughter). MS: Even if in the end she was controlling everything, we really felt like we had the freedom. And that really helped us in the process. SA: There were moments when I would say ‘ok, now it’s freestyle’. I’d let them go with it and in the end I’d pick what I wanted. It wasn’t always exactly the script, but very close to it. Even if the words that they use might be different from what was on the page, the right energy is there. We only had 24 days to shoot (which is a lot in Israel, but it’s not that much). I am also an editor, but I was not involved like that in this movie. It’s very different from working directly with the people on the spot; you think, you try things... Did you consider doing a co-production with France? [NR Sophie Artus is Israeli-French] SA: Not for this one, but maybe for the next one. I’m planning to do a dramatic comedy- it has a social background, and it takes place in the south of Israel. I worked for several years on Valley and it was a hard process. Then when I was waiting to shoot, it was a very hard time for me. So I said I need to relax, I want to smile, and I started this script for the comedy. It was like therapy for me. How was the film received in Israel ? The film was supported by the Israeli Film Fund and a TV channel. They liked the script and they liked that it was something that was not necessarily new, but they understood the importance of the subject. It did well when it was premiered at the Haifa Film Festival, where it won the prize for the best first feature and Neveh Tzur got the prize for best actor. I think it’s a good start. It will also go out in cinemas in few months. I am happy that many people that have seen the movie think it’s an important one, they suggested that it should be screened in the parliament and in schools. It was a long and hard process so I’m happy it’s getting recognition and the work is paying off. Interview by Luisa Riviere and Mirona Nicola 6
Nisimazine calendar December 2014 Yearbook January 2015 Rotterdam April 2015 Istanbul May 2015 Cannes July 2015 Karlovy Vary Find out more on www.facebook.com/nisimazine