Nisimazine SUNDAY 16 MAY 2010
from Bedevilled, Cheo-sool Jang (Korea), Critics’ Week
A Magazine Published in the framework of a workshop for young journalists By Nisi Masa, European Network Of Young CinemA
Tournée David Verbeek Critics’ Week shorts
Sunday 16 May 2010/# 2 A magazine published by the NISI MASA in the framework of a film journalism workshop
for young Europeans with the support of
by Miruna Vasilescu
the ‘Youth in Action’ programme of the EU
EDITORIAL STAFF Director of Publication Matthieu Darras Editors-in-Chief Maartje Alders
Jude Lister Layout Maartje Alders Contributors to this issue
Here, everybody wants to be everything. The city itself implies eclectic behaviour. Yes, you get Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe, but you also get lemon sorbet and drunkards on the beach, five metres away from the Palais.
Bow-tied gents and longlegged ladies strut alongside flip-flopped teenagers and bohemian artists, on and across the red carpet. Everyone must act, in order to survive the crowd of posing people. Smile, honey! You’re in Cannes!
Coordinators Joanna Gallardo,
Marion Perrin NISI MASA 99 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010, Paris, France. Phone: +33 (0)9 60 39 63 38 in Cannes: +33 (0) 6 32 61 70 26 email@example.com www.nisimasa.com
Dominique Besnehard impersonator and his Ghetto Blaster
picture of the day
BY VINCENT BITAUD
to director or vice versa. Whatever the answer to the question why? - one thing is certain: Cannes is the right place for that.
My choice of films is unpredictable. I went to see Mathieu Amalric’s Tournée because I have a weird crush on him, and will be going for Kirsten Dunst’s Bastard because I enjoyed her impersonation of Marie Antoinette. I can’t wait for Xavier Dolan’s new feature but would also jump over the crowd to get a seat for Cristi Puiu’s Aurora. All of these are weird twists from actor
Vincent Bitaud, Geoffrey Crété, Olivier Croughs, Maria Diceanu, Andreea Dobre, Mirona Nicola, Damien Rayuela, Miruna Vasilescu
© Filma Pictures
film of the day
Cheol-soo Jang (Korea) SIC
How to play hide and seek with genres Undoubtedly, Korean cinema has the power to make you dig into your deepest feelings, and hardly the easy ones. Those that make human beings come back to their animal roots, or even lower. With Bedevilled, we feel uncomfortable from beginning to end. Switching from drama to horror with no strict transition, Cheol-soo unseats his audience continuously, in the most delightful way. He seems to take a vicious pleasure in playing with our nerves - and with our points of reference when it comes to investing ourselves in a character. Indeed, at first sight Hae-won (Ji Seo Sung-won) is a one-dimensional Seoul businesswoman, selfish and cold, who refuses to get involved in anything not concerning herself. The film starts with an explicit scene which
reveals Hae-won’s lack of humanity. As a direct witness of a deadly street aggression, she declines to cooperate with the police to testify against the obvious murderer. Hae-won is the total opposite of Boknam (Seo Young-hee), a friend from her childhood who lives on an isolated and under-developed island. She is tenderly pitiful, having been the sex toy of the men and the hard labourer for the women her entire life. The only things that keep her alive are her daughter and the hope of escaping her prison-like existence. Maybe Hae-won would help them out, if only she answered her phone calls or letters… Those two characters seem to have nothing in common. However, Cheol-soo juggles their two radically different natures, leading them to extreme fusion in perfect insanity. It’s quite an accomplishment that we totally understand how things got so bad. It could
sound rough, but when the gory violence finally arrives it comes as a relief. The catharsis works perfectly – no doubt that mothers in the audience will feel even more revolted, and yet alleviated, at the outcome. Aesthetically, Cheol-soo adopts a contemplative style. Everything is arranged to take in the plain violence of the atmosphere, which grows slowly over time. Nature is beautiful, humans are evil: this is what the photography successfully enhances, in a totally dramatic style. After some uncertainty about where the storyline would lead, and a few reservations about the purpose of the first twenty minutes, in the end everything makes perfect sense. Bedevilled boasts a continuously surprising script and an allegorical conclusion that make it outstanding. by Olivier Croughs
Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret (France), Quinzaine “Benda Bilili” means ‘to see beyond appearances’. And to be honest I cannot think of any other name that would suit them better. The five musicians, struck down by poliomyelitis, have cardboard instead of mattresses, and smiles as their only possessions. This Kinshasa band, led by Ricky, never thought about getting on stage the way their peers did before them. The only reason they managed to reach the world is hope. You certainly may have read this a million times; how can you demonstrate self-confidence when every single element seems to play against you? Still these boys give another marvellous lesson in optimism. Members of Benda Bilili come from the
slums of Kinshasa. They move around with wheelchairs, since poliomyelitis has corroded their legs. Most of them have a family to feed, but music, their only bread-and-butter, keeps them away from home. Indeed, they have a kind of genius which allows them to make songs out of their everyday problems, dancing in their chairs and encouraging people not to give up. In 2003 Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret spotted them as they were shooting a documentary about urban music. They immediately fell in love with Benda Bilili’s tunes and the story began. It took the band three long years to get recorded. Now, judging from the long standing ovation on the
opening night, they are setting fire to the Croisette with their fantastic Congolese rumba, Cuban rhythms and reggae vibrations... by Olivier Croughs
Mathieu Amalric (France) – Official Selection, in competition No forgiveness or second chance is offered to these fragile people struggling with their own failures. When Joachim, played by a gigantic and crazy Mathieu Amalric himself, and his favourite performer - the extraordinary Mimi Le Meaux - are talking in a deserted hotel corridor, harsh words suddenly become naïve, and the whole movie walks along this path. Each show is an invitation to
©Les Films du Poisson
On Tour is much more than the tale of Joachim, an unpleasant producer converted to New Burlesque strip-tease who returns to France after his violent escape to America. Far from a simple redemption story of a man in conflict with his life, the film focuses on the fragile yet deeply moving border between laughter and tears, euphoria and gravity.
Tournée (On Tour)
discover the fantastical and spectacular facets of its performers, but beside every shiny set, glitter disappears behind human cracks. In this small striking place between the realities of these five women, playing reflections of themselves, and the characters written - On Tour reveals its precious value. Mathieu Amalric places himself in a demanding
form of cinema wherein characters and stories are sketched, leaving our imagination fill in the holes and continue to write the events afterwards. This disordered fairytale - Amalric the old-fashioned Prince and his naked Princesses - creates a messy yet charming modern French alternative to the American road movie. by Geoffrey Crété
Michael Gokalp (France) Wang Xiaoshuai (China) – Official Competition Bit by bit, with the precious help of cinema, I gathered information on China’s spiritual state. Wang Xiaoshuai’s Chongqing Blues (Rizhao Chongqing) greatly revives the hints of sadness and emptiness I had a hint of. The foggy and chaotic life of Chongqing is the perfect setting for this poem of disorientation.
EUROPEAN SHORT PITCH CALL FOR SHORT FILM PROJECTS Send your script before 31st of July 2010! Age limits 18-28
As the plot unfolds, with its illusory detective intrigue and emotional outbursts, one can say that the actual story is merely a framework for the intricate state of heart piece the director is trying to give way to. A longtime absent father, Lin, comes home to unearth the past and find out more about the death of his son, whom he left sixteen years ago. In the process, he encounters an ex-wife now full of hatred, an old friend, and those few people who knew his son, including the cop who gunned him down. The father feeds on their stories and slowly reconstructs the life he gave up on when he went away, sailing to nowhere. What he really obtains though is not a past, but an emotional outline, which he seems to have missed out on his entire life. Somehow this man is ‘enjoying’ his guilt and heavy thoughts. ©Tempo Films
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CARTE BLANCHE TO NISI MASA - CRITIC’S WEEK Screening of 7 European short ﬁlms developed in the frame of European Short Pitch
Thursday 20th of May 2010 Espace Miramar - 15:00 35 rue Pasteur - Cannes
However, later on, Wang feels the need to go deeper inside these mixed feelings, which makes the film feel a bit long. This partly eases the tension: the veil of pressure and complicated feelings he managed to throw in at first. Eventually, just as the title predicts, this film is a blue, poetic approach to the unsettled nature of human beings. By Miruna Vasilescu
interview protagonist, Lana. How was she developed as a character? This is a subtle coming of age story, and it is her story. Firstly, it was about a 3-yearold girl left alone at the zoo. Then it became many other things, especially her longing to be touched.
Who plays the part and how do you choose your actors? Ladya Cheryl, who played Linda in Blind Pig, will play the lead again, as Lana. The rest of the cast has not been determined. For me, choosing actors is a simple story. I need to see their trust in the film that we are about to make together.
Participant of L’Atelier with Postcards from the Zoo
Every year, a new generation blooms in Cannes. The Cinéfondation’s ‘L’Atelier’ is one of the Festival’s initiatives to help young directors develop and promote their future projects. One of the selected filmmakers is Edwin, who is ethnically Chinese but lives in Indonesia. Hostility towards the Chinese community seems to be a dramatic problem in his country: one which led to a bizarre yet deeply emotional and humanistic debut feature, Blind Pig who Wants to Fly. After winning the FIPRESCI Award at the 2009 International Film Festival Rotterdam, he is now working on a new film, Postcards from the Zoo. You first studied graphic design, then filmmaking. What made you change your mind and go this way? Originally I wanted to study animation, but there were no schools offering it in Indonesia at the time. At the university in my hometown, Surabaya, graphic design was the closest thing, in terms of something to satisfy my interest and passion for visual imagery. I have always loved animation and films. When I
found out that there was a film school in Jakarta, I packed my bags and left Surabaya. When working on Blind Pig did you stick to the script or leave room for improvisation? Just the other day, I was going through the very first version of the script, and I was amused that the finished film actually did not stray far from that first script, although in the process there was quite a lot of improvisation, depending on the mood and ambience of the shooting and the editing process. What sort of feedback do you have from people who are not directly affected by the social issues shown in the film? Although most foreigners didn’t quite catch the cultural references or understand the background (Indonesian social history), many understood and identified with the overall feeling of alienation. And that’s important to me: when the film is liberated from having to explain any facts or history or background, it independently expresses a strong feeling of confusion, unease, restlessness and even fear. Those feelings are universal; they can be caused by racism, or anything else. Blind Pig follows several characters, but Postcards from the Zoo will focus on one
What is your opinion about the film festivals in Indonesia? The FFI (Film Festival Indonesia), which is organized by the Government and was recently supported by a commercial TV station, is a joke. They are trying to make some sort of Indonesian Academy Awards, and it is a stupid effort. There are so many things wrong with it, beginning from the technicality of entries. Meanwhile, the Jakarta International Film Festival, Konfiden Short Film Festival, Jogja Netpac Asian Film Festival, Purbalingga Film Festival, Jogja Documentary Film Festival, all offer a much more fresh educational experience. These festivals contribute something to the scope and outlook of Indonesian audiences and filmmakers, opening up their eyes. They are unsung heroes, who offer motivation and optimism. Do you read film criticism? Not really. Maybe if someone emails me a review, I will read it. What is your relationship with Indonesian critics? There aren’t that many critics in Indonesia: I know less than 5. I know them well. A personal film like Blind Pig who Wants to Fly is touching, but doesn’t do well on the commercial side. Is the new one going in a different direction? Well, maybe all I am doing this time is making a film that I can invite my parents to come and see in the theatre. By Andreea Dobre
Outcasts and other pariahs
Critics’ Week Shorts in Competition
“A breath of fresh air”, goes the Critics’ Week motto. Still, the seven short films in competition this year are all dramas, and don’t leave any easy breathing space. Most gravitate around the same theme of ‘the outcast’, a character who, willingly or not, is judged and convicted by his community. On the other hand, two films deal with a more philosophical issue: people’s ideals as intangible goals. The social issue of ‘pariahs’ is quite well-covered, including cases of voluntary outcasts. Oleg (Deeper Than Yesterday, by Ariel Kleiman) and Max (The boy who wanted to be a lion, by Alois Di Leo) both intentionally withdraw from the groups they belong to. The first is the only person in the restrained community of a Russian submarine who is doing his best not to lose his humanity and stick to his beliefs. Normal life to Oleg is mostly what Max has, but this boy is not satisfied with it. Being deaf already makes him different, but the moment he sees and hears a lion makes Max want to become one. The film portrays the boy’s struggles with much kindness, an approach that his parents also try initially. Alois Di Leo makes excellent use of sound to reveal Max’s attitude towards his disability: he has begun to almost enjoy the ability to shun everybody when he pleases. The use of sound also conveys why the lion makes such a strong impression on the boy: Max is able
to hear his roar load and clear. In Berik, by Daniel Joseph Borgman, the homonymous character is also confronted with the need of belonging to a community, but he is rejected because of his physical appearance (he is blind, his face disfigured). He connects with a child who partly shares the same fate - he is bullied by his playmates. John (the protagonist of Native Son, by Scott Graham) is probably the most extreme outcast case on the list, since he is totally rejected by his small community. His relationships with people seem to be something that simply developed over time - the more he tried to get closer, the more they rejected him up, to the point where he lacks normal social interaction and turns to odd behaviours. Two other films offer further interpretations of the outcast theme, but their main focus is on the reasons for pursuing an ideal. Firstly, Love Potato (by Gilles Cuvelier) is a story about a man who isn’t searching for love, but finds it nevertheless, impersonated by a potato. The line between real, surreal and the character’s imagination is very thin here. So viewers, just as some characters, might interpret that the potato’s magical abilities are all in the boy’s head. Vasco’s ideal is the horizon line, which in his vision is made up of whales. Sébastien Laudenbach is creative in putting obstacles before
his character, a metaphor of a man’s never-ending quest to reach his goal. In simple black and white animation, Vasco builds up a story that shows a man torn between his flesh and his mind. Even though when watching the film one might consider Vasco an exceptional character, it’s only afterwards that we realize this is a dilemma we all have, in one way or another. The film operates with clear symbols and reduces the man to an initial state in order to depart on his adventure towards the horizon line. One film though is an outcast itself, not belonging to any of these thematic categories. Ivan’s Distraction (by Cavi Borges and Gustav Melo) tells the story of Ivan’s confrontation with the adult world through picturesque images of a Brazilian favela. Ivan is torn between being a child and the acceptance of adults. What he learns is that he can only connect with them when they are behaving somehow childishly themselves, during a football game. There is rarely even a faint smile when watching this year’s Critics’ Week short film competition. Still, that doesn’t mean the films don’t make up a varied selection. It simply proves what “a breath of fresh air” is all about: pulling old rabbits from new hats.
critics week shorts By Mirona Nicola
from bottom to top: Vasco, The boy who wanted to be a lion, Native Son, Love Patate, Berik, A distração de ivan.
PHOTO BY DAMIEN RAYUELA
Director of R U There (The Netherlands) - Un Certain Regard
Over the last ten years, not so many Dutch directors have made it into the selection of the Cannes Film Festival. That’s why R U There, David Verbeek’s third feature, shouldn’t be overlooked, especially considering the success his previous works registered at many festivals. Basically, the director has grown under the watchful eyes of the Rotterdam Film Festival. Their first official contact happened in 2005, while he was still a student at the Dutch Film Academy, with the occasion of the screening of his feature debut Beat, made with a 500 euro budget. In 2008 his second feature Shanghai Trance was selected for the Tiger Awards Competition and screened all over the world, including in 250 cinemas in China. While Verbeek modestly claims that the number is not so relevant with the country being so big, his was the first Dutch film benefiting from this treatment, which is certainly not something to be ignored for a director who was only 27 years old at the time of the release.
Chinese audiences and critics alike were amazed that such a film could have been done by a foreigner. A foreigner who lived in Shanghai for less than three years, and yet was not only able to assimilate and observe a completely different culture, but also to coherently reflect it in his works. Although the reason most of his films, like Melody-Z and Shanghai Trance, are placed in Asian settings is not necessarily due to his attraction towards oriental culture, but more likely because of his fascination about how things are moving and changing so fast there, as opposed to Europe. R U There’s creator likes approaching subjects that are affecting younger generations, regardless of the country they are coming from. This explains the film’s discussion of virtualization, alienation, and the incapability of adapting to real life. Verbeek considers drama to be a necessary part of the creative process, even if this means reflecting the negative aspects of society. However, he doesn’t think of his films as having a pessimistic view, comparing the experien-
ces of the characters to muscular pains: they are hurting but the result reflects a growth. “Dutch people have always been very good at exploring and reaching behind borders to find subjects that are of global interest”, he explains. Internationality is what distinguishes David Verbeek’s work the most. Talking about the dependence on virtual spaces, for instance, is a global issue. The filmmaker’s ability to master an international style is probably a result of his artistic training. Starting to experiment with cameras at an early age, he went to New York for a 2-month workshop at the Film Academy, and ended up staying there for two more years. This period of exploration began paying off during his studies at the Dutch Film Academy. The Rotterdam Film Festival gave the final touch, facilitating an encounter with Asian directors such as Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Mingliang and Jia Zhang-ke. Although aware that artistic filmmaking is a very competitive market, he intends to continue following this path. He not
only believes that the public is in constant need of authenticity, but also that the amazing progress of computer games - as far as design, storytelling and artistic value are concerned - is going to put an end to purely commercial films. When asked whether his Un Certain Regard selection is likely to generate a series of Verbeek-style films among young Dutch cineastes, he replies that this is unlikely, given that his style is so particular. However he would like more young filmmakers to start considering the whole world as a source of inspiration. David Verbeek himself never stops exploring. Whenever he is in a new city, he likes picking up his camera and simply wandering the streets. With his passion for travelling we are left wondering what new spaces his future projects will feature. Let’s not forget that 20% of R U There actually happens in Second Life, so don’t necessarily expect him to portray existing worlds! By Maria Dicieanu