Nisimazine Yearbook 2013
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Page 64 - 67 Page 68 - 71 15 Festivals Page 72 - 75 Page 4 - 7 IFF Rotterdam Page 76 - 79 Page 80 - 83 Page 8 - 11 Berlinale Page 84 - 87 Page 88 - 91 Page 14 - 17 Istanbul IFF Page 92 - 95 Page 96 - 99 Page 18 - 21 Diagonale Festival Austrian Film
Top 10 Filmmakers Page 24 - 27 Page 28 - 31 Page 32 - 35 Page 36 - 39 Page 40 - 43 Page 44 - 47 Page 48 - 51 Page 52 - 55 Page 56 - 59 Page 60 - 63
Festival du CinĂŠma de Cannes Karlovy Vary IFF Transylvania IFF Mostra de Cinema di Venezia San Sebastian IFF Filmfest Hamburg London Film Festival Kaunas IFF Tallinn Black Nights
Yuri Ancarani Ninja Thyberg Paul Wright Katrin Gebbe Benedikt Erlingsson Jim Taihuttu Tomasz Wasilewski Tudor Jirgiu Daria Belova JonĂĄs Trueba
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editorial It has been a long and busy year in the Nisimazine universe. From January to December we always had some sort of special coverage going on, taking our army of writers, photographers and video bloggers around the continent, and in some special occasions, even beyond the Atlantic. Some may call it an obsession, others just mere stubbornness, but to us swimming against the current that keeps prophesying the imminent â€œDeath of film Criticismâ€?, through opening new paths for new writers to break through the scene, is absolutely vital to keep the film show running. Being aware of the dangers and searching for solutions is in our nature so we tirelessly traveled many miles in the last 12 months. In 2013 Nisimazine was present in over 15 festivals across the world, always keeping our eyes wide open to what new names are being revealed by festival programmers. With so much content distributed this year this period demands a little time for reflection and a special Christmas gift for our readers. In the following pages you will find a collection of articles written throughout the year, compiling reviews and interviews of some of the best films of the year. As if that was not enough to seduce you to turn the page and close the year in style, we decided to take a step further. While most publications are battling with top ten lists of films that dazzled or will be dazzling audiences across the planet, we took an alternative route. Being the ultimate vehicle to find out which are the names that will be making the headlines in the near future, we are sharing with you our inside tips of who are the ten new European filmmakers we think have the brightest future ahead. Yes, this is a luxurious list indeed. It was no easy task has there were many names on the spotlight this year, all worthy of inclusion on such a list. Yet, as it usually happens, there were ten of them that seemed to stand out of the crowd, thanks to their innovative and groundbreaking approach to filmmaking. So dare to dig in deep this final edition and be sure to take a mental note of these names for the future. The new year will bring many new additions to Nisimazine so keep an eye open in the near future to ensure you donâ€™t miss a thing, but meanwhile, for one last time in 2013, find your little cozy corner and enjoy the last Nisimazine of the year.
by Fernando Vasquez
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
ROTTERDAM The Mecca of Art-house cinema has throughout the decades grown into a vital event that sets up the pace right at the start of the film festival circuit year. Rotterdam is one of those strange cases where a gigantic phenomenon, with hundreds of film on display in screening rooms spread across the city centre, that attract large friendly but demanding audiences, still manages to promote and multiply a welcoming and cosy atmosphere to keep you warm in the freezing January Dutch cold.
Among other triumphs, the festival has been a pioneer when it comes to pointing a spotlight on the experimental nature of filmmaking, in particular when it comes to short films. This alone was enough to awaken NisimazineÂ´s attention and after a successful experiment in 2012, we returned this year to dive in its daring Tiger Shorts competition, which turned out to be a real eye opener.
Immortelle by David Verbeek // The Netherlands The Dutch filmmaker David Verbeek is no stranger to the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Most of his films were shown here, so one can say he was raised by this festival allowing the viewers to witness his maturity process. This year´s edition was no exception. His latest feature, How to Describe a Cloud, was not his only premiere, as the event marked the first screening of his short Immortelle. This film´s central theme and plot is based on one of the most notorious things for youth in general, break-ups. Verbeek vindicates this norm of teen-drama series and romantic comedies of all its clichés by engaging in a purely non-verbal motion spectacle. On the verge of self-pitying, right after the split up of a young couple, reality collides with hallucinatory figments of the protagonists´ minds. The inner reality penetrates the external one as a result of mental unbalance. The real treat comes up with the invocation of pale doppelgangers appearing at each other households. The weight of the situation lies on the shoulders of spectral dead-like naked figures, expressing themselves only through grotesque twitching and jerking.
The ballet marvel establishes a somewhat universal language similarly to music and provides highly emotionally charged “communication.” The zombie-like state of the doubles reminds viewers of danse macabre thus emphasizing the act of living. On the other hand, nearly nude dancers bear the notion of sexuality, which means that not solely emotional backlash occurs but also a physical one, hence constituting an analysis of the emotional and physical confines. The stunning photography enhances the whole effect, reinforcing by saturating the black-and-grey colour as the monochrome effect. Immortelle happens to call attention to the generational statement of certain emotional sterility, hollowness. This short film impresses with a well-thought and cunningly executed choreography. However, another component draws remarkable attention, mise-en-scène. The shorter the film, the more matter the details. Despite the absorbing concept and choreography, Immortelle features tremendous touch for details on the set. Undoubtedly, the director Verbeek has presented us an unmissable gem.
review by Martin Kudláč // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 5
by Willie Doherty // Ireland
Slow tracking and close ups shots takes us around fallen trees, living fungus and dynamic mould, while a warm voiceover relates the strange events which took place in an uncertain past, or future perhaps. This is the uncluttered device that composes Secretion, the latest short film of visual artist Willie Doherty. The title itself gives us already some clues about Dohertyâ€™s motivations. Mainly, asecretion is a substance released from a cell. Furthermore, it could be a series of feelings released from a set of pictures and sounds put together. In this way, pictures and commentary are synchronized at the beginning to illustrate the mystery of poisoned dead trees in the middle of an autumnal and quiet forest. But slowly, and without even noticing it, the narration takes off to bring new elements of knowledge in order to find and explain to the poisoningâ€™s origin. As the speech goes on, the narrative runs through to transform itself into a troubling kind of fairy tale. Pictures and soundtrack start fitting to the storytelling in a very new sense.
Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 6 // review by Lydia Castellano
As if by magic, the landscape becomes figurative. Terrible events and action are depicted, and we can only feel safe and cosy in our own side of the screen. Secretion is all about rhythm. Tracking shots mixed with voiceover, picture mixed with sound. By all appearances, nothing more simple, and yet nothing more difficult than give the right rhythm to this two essential cinema factors. Coordinating the amazing work of D.O.P. Connor Hammond and the fascinating voice of actor Rory Donaghy, the director succeeds, with great ease, in this masterful piece of art, recommended to be seen in a big screen and dark room, if possible.
by Zachary Formwalt // The Netherlands
The construction of the future Shenzhen stock exchange becomes an elegy for the Age of Capital. The monstrous building shot with time-lapse photography almost erases all of the workers, one of the indispensable elements along with building components.
where inputs of human labor and materials have become redundant will be short-lived. The seemingly philosophers´ stone, a status that money has acquired, is not so inexhaustible. It cannot generate another wealth for all eternity.
Director Zachary Formwalt forms, on a three scene composition, an eloquent image of an “abbreviated form of capital.” This Marxist concept is enriched by notorious anecdotes about Muybridge´s bet, which eventually led to the origins of cinematography.
Unsupported Transit delivers a strong and gloomy statement as predicted by the controversial prophet. However, the most fascinating aspect of this film is the parable about Muybridge itself and the grammar of cinema being capable to project such abstract ideas. Besides the apocalyptic message, there is an ode to cinema underneath.
Formwalt achieves to illustrate his point concisely by putting the haunting example of time-lapse photography and the voiceover of an unflattering Marxist vision of the future of capital. The world
review by Martin Kudláč // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 7
BERLIN The Berlinale is the ultimate all encompassing film event that not only features one of the largest film markets in the world, but also a film program that includes an impressive amount of films from just about everywhere. If to this we add up its legendary parties we have the recipe for an event that really requires no real introduction; after all it has been setting up trends since the 1950´s. For Nisimazine this year´s edition of the German festival provided a unique chance to explore the
world of acting through the coverage of the Shooting Stars event, an exhibition of the best European young talent in the area, organized by the European Film Promotion group. We met up with a long list of young talent that broke in the scene in the previous year, in an interview marathon produced alongside our friends at Cineuropa. We also took advantage of our stay in the German capital to dive into the festival´s exhaustive catalogue of films.
The Swimming Pool There is an increasingly frequent undercurrent in modern LatinAmerican cinema which insists on flirting with a minimalism that is more reminiscent of traditional art-house European influences then their very own. It is miles away from Solanas and GetinoÂ´s notorious cry for a Third Cinema focused on local needs that eventually led to a major film explosion in the region. The work of this new generation of Latin-American filmmakers has been received with mix feelings, with many new productions being praised by some and condemned by others. Cuban director Carlos Machado Quintela seems to have hit the jackpot though, with his debut feature The Swimming Pool, managing to create a piece which is capable of appealing to different sensibilities. Set in a public swimming pool where a small group of troubled handicapped youths meet daily for swimming lessons, at first the film appears to be going nowhere, limiting itself to a series of static portraits of the students mocking about while their passive swimming teacher witnesses submissively. Yet, behind this apparent void of objective the film stretches brilliantly into a voyeuristic anal-
by Carlos Machado Quintela // Cuba ysis of the characterÂ´s distressed and strange relationships. Their favourite pass time is teasing each other; sometimes even beyond the reasonable. However, no matter how painful it may be, their daily presence feels vital to their existence. They need each other to feel and, at least for part of the day, be normal. The main strength of the film is its capacity to turn an ordinary looking and decaying swimming pool, where no real significant action seems to take place, into a space for escapism of the difficulties and troubles the characters have to deal with in the real world. It is simple but never simplistic, and it functions quite beautifully. The subtle richness of the characters, in particular the beautiful green eyed amputee girl that fills the screen with her feisty presence, overcomes the tedium the slow pace of the film may provoke. This is a powerful debut by Quintela, whose keen eye for restrained and refined observation triumphs in creating meaning where most of us see emptiness.
review by Fernando Vasquez // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 9
by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman // USA
The strange and mysterious life of 1970´s porn star Linda Lovelace, the ultimate face of the sexual revolution, has been the subject of many books and documentaries over the years, yet the film world always seemed reluctant to follow the same path. The wait is over though, with the release of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman latest feature, which premiered at Sundance and has now found its way to the Berlinale. This is a story told from too opposite perspectives: the myth we all know and cherish and one of Lovelace´s version of the truth. According to her book Ordeal, published in 1980, she was forced into a life of prostitution and abuse by her husband Chucky Traynor, who beat and raped her frequently, even during the shooting of her most famous of moments, the legendary Deep Throat porn flick. If seen as a purely cinematic experience the film fulfils its role entirely, both amusing and freighting audiences in equal measure. Amanda Seyfried´s performance as Linda Lovelace is faultless. As one of Hollywood´s brightest talents she is addictive to look at in the big screen, capable of floating between the character´s innocence and sex appeal with great ease. Even if light years away from the depth of PTA´s Boogie Nights, the film manages to stand on its Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 10 // review by Fernando Vasquez
own, recreating the environment and feel of the seventies, finding the space for great comedic moments along the way. Yet, for those who have had a chance to dig deeper into the character´s real life it feels somewhat incomplete. The vicious nature of Lovelace´s account of what really happened is much darker then the film portrays. Equally important is the absence of even a slight mention of the frequent changes of position and versions of the story the real character told all the way up to her premature death in 2002. Eipstein and Friedman seem content to solemnly reveal the victim in a somewhat simplistic format, while avoiding her unbalanced behaviour over the years. It is disappointing to say the least, as a more adventurous approach would surely take the film into much higher grounds. Entertaining, funny, thoughtful and scary, Lovelace is unquestionably an interesting and vital study of an age of excess. It is smart in the sense that it proves that in the myth there is much more than meets the eye. However some audiences will inevitably be disappointed at some level for its refusal to see beyond the scandalous version of the truth.
In Denmark most people know about the story about the Christian the VII, so I knew a little bit about him. When I got the part I went to the library and I read all the books I could find about the story and I started researching. So I made a whole map about his life and the development of Christian through the story. I also saw historical movies like Madness of King George and I started listening to classical music. You know, I was trying to get into the period somehow. Of course I also read the script a lot of times before we got to the Czech Republic, where we shot the movie, and we had a long rehearsal period. You played alongside the mighty Madds Mikkelssen. Did you learn anything from him? Yes I learned a lot from Madds. He is probably the biggest Danish actor ever and I had been a big fan of him since I was little. So when I met him at first I was very nervous at the audition. But since the beginning he was so kind and nice to me and to the other actors. He became like a mentor for me. He gave me advice for my career and advice for playingChristian, so we became great friends.
Interwiew... Mikkel Boe Følsgaard Denmark // Shooting Stars 2013
Mikkel Folsgaard is one of the most talk about names of the moment. His performance in Nikolaj Arcel´s A royal Affair has put him under the spotlight. We caught up with him in Berlin to find out how he is dealing with his new found success. You got your big break in The Royal Affair even before finishing acting school. How did you build the confidence for that challenge? I was at the theatre school in Copenhagen back then and when I got the part I was in my third year and it was like my first movie, so I was, you know, when I got the part I was very insecure and nervous. I thought that I couldn’t make it. But I had a good director and some good fellow actors who supported me all the way, so I managed to do it. The hardest part was finding the confidence in myself, definitely. It was my first movie and I was, as I said before, very nervous. I thought perhaps the director had made a mistake choosing me so, you know, the confidence on myself was a big challenge. You play the role of King Christian the VII, the mad king. How did you prepare yourself for such a complicated role?
Last year you came here to the Berlinale and left with the Best Actor Award. How surreal was that experience? I came down here not expecting to win at all. I was, you know, hiding behind Madds and people and the director. I was suppose to go home Saturday morning and the award show was at the evening. Then I got a phone call Friday evening saying the Berlinale wanted me to stay and I was like “ok, what is that all about”. I stayed, I went to the award show and Charlotte Gainsbourg came to the scene and she said my name. It was so surreal. Even when I think about it now it is like a dream: Almost blurry and everything. It just happened so quickly, but it was yeah (pause) so cool. What does it mean to you to be nominated for the Shooting Stars event? Well it gives me the opportunity to meet all the young actors, hear their stories and how they came here. Then we met some casting directors from all over the world, so of course it gives us an opportunity to get some connections outside our own country. And then it is free beers and party. All the fun stuff: Free jewelry, face cream and stuff like that (Laughs). It is great. Do you have a dream role you would like to do in the future? You know, I don’t have a dream role. I think, you know, when I read a script or a story that interests me I just get stuck into the story, so it can be anything. Of course I like to build characters which are far away from me. I think that is very interesting. I hope to get casted to do all films, TV and theater. I think the mix between those 3 is very interesting.
interview by Fernando Vasquez // transcription by Luisa Riviere // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 11
Nisimazine Agenda 2014 January - February
International Film Festival Rottterdam
International Istanbul Film Festival
Cannes International Film Festival
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Venice International Film Festival
San Sebastian International Film Festival
Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival
ISTANBUL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL There are few cities in the world that can claim such a charming atmosphere as Istanbul, making it the perfect setting for the East and West to met up and talk about cinema. The IKSV is one of the freshest and youngest film festivals around, even though it has been taking place for over 30 years. Somehow it has managed to maintain its youthful spirit and will to open new paths, gathering an impressive list of films and filmmakers that provide a privileged view of what is going on at the world of cinema.
Featuring a series of old style film theatres hidden away in the intimidating busy streets of Istanbul, the event not only is the natural home of the buzzing Turkish film scene, but also an opportunity to discover what is being made in all 4 corners of the world. Nisimazine is beginning to make a habit of visiting the event and soon enough this presence will be felt increasingly more noticeably.
Dead Europe by Tony Krawitz // Australia There is something dark and intriguing emerging within Australian cinema that is increasingly beginning to feel like a daring underground phenomenon. The box office and critical sensations Animal Kingdom and Snowtown are just the tip of the iceberg.
The film is not without its faults, trying to cover way too much ground in little time, leaving the audience slightly lost at points. Yet, it is captivating in the sense that it is light years away from the inward look so typical of the Australian insular mentality.
The trend began back in 2005, with the success of Greg McLean´s visceral Wolf Creek, which marked a final departure from the resilient echoes of the Ozploitation era. Films such as Samson and Dalilah, The loved Ones and Hail are less successful but nevertheless impressive examples of how a unique scene, spearheaded by a new and youthful breed of filmmakers, has been progressively laying its foundations Down Under.
Dead Europe is refreshing and subversive in the sense that it chooses to rethink part of Australian culture through the present experiences and images of a stagnant old continent in the midst of a cyclical economic, social, political and cultural crisis. In doing so it produces one of the most chilling portraits of modern day Europe, including the details we all frequently prefer to ignore. Like its recent predecessors Dead Europe is, above all, about creating a dark atmosphere of constant disturbing threat. It does so brilliantly, covering its inherent failures by pacing its mood to perfection, seasoned with provocative and highly sexual undertones.
Tony Krawitz´s Dead Europe is the latest of these ventures that seem to have found a keen audience around the world. Based on the bestselling novel by Christos Tsiolkas, the film portrays the strange voyage of a gay Australian photographer who travels to Europe in order to return the ashes of his dead Greek father back to his homeland. In the process he ends up facing some of the demons that led his family, like so many others, to immigrate to the southern Hemisphere.
With his second feature Krawitz shows us that all the hardwork and boldness displayed by himself and his piers could be a sign of a new found maturity, that could just lift this “movement” from the underground and into the international limelight.
interview by Fernando Vasquez // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 15
by Ziad Doueiri // Lebanon
The Israeli and Palestinian conflict has always been a fertile ground for documentary filmmakers, yet the same cannot be said for the realm of fiction. There are exceptions of course, such as Scandar Copti´s Ajami for instance, but generally fiction filmmakers have always struggled to dig deep and succesfully in the complexity of the conflict. Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri does not seem to mind to be a pioneer of sorts in the field and has produced what may very well be the most effective attempt so far. The film is based on Yasmina Kadra´s controversial novel about a respected and secular Arab doctor living and working in Israel, whose life is turned upside down when his beautiful wife is accused of being a suicide bomber. Determined to either prove her innocence or discover the men who manipulated her into such an atrocity, he ends up experiencing a journey of self-identity and reasoning in a sometimes insane part of the world. Contrary to most fiction and non-fiction pieces on the conflict, The Attack avoids leaning towards either side, preferring to show how both of them are wrong. Yet this is not your usual anti-war film Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 16 // review by Fernando Vasquez
either. Yes it condemns both terrorists and occupiers, but it throws you enough subliminal hints that show you that nothing is that black-and-white in the Middle East. Doueiri follows no agenda but his own, focusing primarily on the human and existentialist inner battles during times of conflict. The setting is almost irrelevant, what is truly important is showing how an intelligent man struggles to maintain his own common sense while everything around him seems to be falling apart. The result is a thrilling and engaging film that takes no prisoners, asks all the right questions and shows enough respect for the audience by not feeding it all the answers. With an extraordinary powerful performance by Ali Suliman and a pace more reminiscent of Hollywood thrillers then classic Middle Eastern cinema, The Attack will surely catch you off guard, as it carries within enough appeal and intelligence to become a film we´ll talk about for years to come.
ents. Is it common in Turkey for people to leave their family home as late as he does? Yes, but it is not always like that. In this film Alis, the protagonist, is 36-years old, he lives with his family, because he is dependent on it. He didn’t find a job, or didn’t have someone to marry, so he didn’t leave his house. Actually, I have a lot of friends living like that, but the film is not about living together with your family, that is not the issue here. In Karnaval the problem is love violence. If your parents love you too much, they don’t let you go anywhere, so the film is about protecting. When parents try to protect you, they harm you, so I would call this film a growing up story. Where would you place Karnaval in the context of Turkish cinema? How it is different?
interview... Can Kılcıoğlu
director of ‘Karnaval’ // Turkey The première of the first full length feature film of Turkish director Can Kılcıoğlu, took place at this year´s edition of the Istanbul film festival. After receiving much praise Can Kılcıoğlu began grabbing our attention significantly, and at the first chance we sat down with him to find out more about the film as well as to find out how difficult it is to break through the scene in Turkey. What is the situation of Turkish cinema nowadays? Is it hard for young directors in Turkey to make movies?
The style of the film is not common in Turkey. There are not many black humour comedies. We have comedies, tragic drama films, but we don’t have that many combined genre films, so I think it will be interesting for Turkish cinema. The first screening of the film was at the Istanbul film festival and the reaction was very nice. I think it is because the film is about us all, about our families. We don’t see a lot of people like Alis everyday or if we see them, we pretend not to, but they are still there. Do you think the black comedy genre is the only way to express this theme? For me, no. But I feel good when I tell the story in a humoristic way. It is enjoyable to me. It is something that I use in my short films. It is something about my style, I want to make people laugh, without forgetting the main issue. Was your goal to change something in the general mindset of Turkish society with Karnaval? I just wanted to show that there are situations like this. And as we know that there are people like Alis, we have to understand them; we shouldn’t eliminate them from society. They are not other people, they are like us. We should also try to understand why they are like that, we should not be angry at them; it’s a big social problem. We all have mothers like the one shown in the film. The situation is similar to us.
It is always difficult to make films, and it is especially not easy in Turkey. But there are lots of young directors who are making really good films, who are winning a lot of awards at international films festivals like Cannes, Venice, so the situation of Turkish cinema is developing. For me it also wasn’t easy, but it was enjoyable. Making movies is always a big adventure. Four years ago I started to write a script and now we have the film. The film is about a young man’s relationship with his parinterview by Ugnė Česnavičiūtė // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 17
DIAGONALE FESTIVAL OF AUSTRIAN FILM Austrian cinema is much more then Michael Haneke, even if his powerful presence does inevitably cast a shadow over everything else coming out of the country. The Diagonale Film Festival is at the front line of the battle to promote, stimulate and debate about the current state of filmmaking in the region. It has been extremely successful in its mission, having become a reference since its first steps, back in 1977. For some years now Nisimazine has been visiting the event, finding
out in the process an active and fearless and thriving film community in the country. This year was no exception, and once again we returned to the festival in search for everything Austrian, with compelling results. In the middle of our quest we managed to also find the time to discover that the event goes well beyond Austria, compiling a program that offers a thorough taste of Germanic cinema in general.
Heritage by Matthias Zuder // Austria Max and his pregnant wife visit his well-off grandfather and the discomfort that is set from the beginning of the encounter reveals itself to be a great family burden. The grandfather is facing trial for crimes against humanity, as he was a former Nazi concentration camp guard. A lot of ’big’ issues are touched upon this miniature 17-minutes piece, fore mostly considering the German legacy of the Second world war as well as that of the ’responsibility’ to first take care of ones own family. In Max’s case, his old family’s heritage is a burden to his identity, while his new, young family is his foremost responsibility (expecting a newborn). His grandfather, by offering Max a gold bar melted in an unnamed camp during the war, puts him into a test position, where he has to make a very doubtful choice. By creating this situation, which the grandfather believes to be similar to his own during the war, he would like to make Max understand that he did what was best for the family, especially in the situation “where everybody was doing it”, and in a way, compensate for his wrongdoings by getting the recognition from his grandson.
While Max is doubtful on taking the bar, his wife is resolute and wants nothing to do with the grandfather and his offer ; she is the moral vertical and the opposite pole to the grandfather. She is also the strongest reason for Max to take the bar, as well as not to take it, thus becoming the character who creates a stronger structure of ambivalence in Max’s dilemma. At the end of the film we only see a black screen and the grandfather’s off-voice at the trial. He claims, to his own defense, as did Adolf Eichmann in the Jerusalem trial, that he was “only doing his job”. Heritage asks the crucial question of “the banality of the evil” and conformism : who is right ? In this case the ’trick’ is in the question : one must ask hard but fundamental questions on responsibility and its consequences, as well as how they interact and respond to common principles and ethics. The golden bar represents a heritage of an entire nation (and not only German !) and its unsolved past, an intangible paradox of responsibility of those who were “only” supporting the Nazis.
review by Nino Kovačić // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 19
This is what always goes on with the people and does not with animals by Jan & Anna Gross // Austria Certainly the film with the longest title at the Diagonale Film Festival, as well as probably the only one written and directed by a brother and sister, is on the margin of (not) being a short film (45 min), but nevertheless an interesting and original piece. A police investigator and five characters speak of a women they knew and who is gone missing. We discover that the missing person had at least four alternative identities. Done in a fake documentary form, the film is a set up in a series of parallel talking-head interviews intermixed with a number of docu-fiction shots. A mosaic of the woman’s’ identity is being put together piece by piece through the interviews, but no final picture is established and it is even questionable if, considering the multitude of her parallel lives, it could be done so. Descriptions given by her boyfriend, best friend, a clergy woman and pretend-to-be father and mother present different ’truths’ on her through others memories, thus creating her identity with contradictions. The characters speak of how they were affected by the missing woman, turning her real identity irrelevant considerNisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 20 // review by Nino Kovačić
ing the fact that her intervention in their lives was important and profound. The characters themselves and their relationships to the women are constructed by a dramaturgically craftful diversity. Especially interesting (and best acted) is the couple involved in a theatrical experiment with the missing woman, where they agreed to play a family of three, playing her mother and father in everyday situations. What starts off as a semi-thriller search story evolves into a narrative experiment on exploration of what is identity : a construct built on the interactions, comparisons and memory of others. Also, the script, dramaturgy and questions posed are more interesting then the execution of the film itself. At moments is becomes repetitive and thus too long, and a lot of space is left for technical and directing improvements, as well as playfulness with cinematic forms, when it comes to the eternal question of identity. Although not brilliantly filmed, the story´s potential of Jan and Anna Gross definitely holds a promising future for them.
Talea by Katharina Mückstein // Austria Young Austrian director Katharina Mückstein presents herself to the world with Talea, a gentle coming of age story which has garnered considerable attention at this year’s Diagonale. Talea (Italian for “sprout”) is a tale of pursuit of identity among young people raised in foster families and deprived of the staples of individuality that parents should instil. Jasmin is a disassociated fourteen-year-old whose mom has recently been released from prison. Naturally persistent, she manages to win over her mom’s attention but soon realizes she cannot command it. They both remain deeply submerged in their own perspectives with little willingness to yield to the needs of the other, so it takes a lot of small steps to bridge the gap built over the years. Both of them are outsiders meant to find support in each other, so the film grows into one person’s discovery and another’s re-discovery of the self.
The film has gone from a rough draft to a finished product within a mere ten months, but one will struggle to recognize signs of haste in it. Quite the contrary, the director impresses with her sense of structure and methodical approach to the psychological development of her characters. This is a lean piece of work which does not swerve, but executes its goals with elegant precision. Mückstein builds tension adeptly, interspersing high drama with delightful bits of comic reliefs. In two memorable scenes, Mückstein defies the aesthetics of her mentor, Michael Haneke, by employing music for characterization. Both scenes play like meditative music videos, yet remain precisely in function of Jasmin’s growth. For those who feel they have already seen the story countless times, the film is pleasingly devoid of stereotypes of the genre in which great lessons are learned and teenage angst dissolves overnight. Talea is a realistic piece of cinematic poetry, a contemporary fairy tale which is warm, touching, occasionally poignant, but never sliding into sentimentalism that such stories are prone to. Its protagonist is an offshoot, promising to grow into a sturdy beautiful plant, unwavering in the winds to come, just as Talea itself is a worthy debut indicative of great work ahead.
As mother and daughter retreat to nature, Jasmin enjoys maternal love for the first time and finds bliss in her garden of Eden. Initiation rites run smoothly and she immerses herself into adulthood, as mom introduces her to cigarettes, make-up and dancing. However, the idyll of the odd couple is soon broken by the appearance of a handsome local. Jasmin makes it clear that three is a crowd, but her mom feels otherwise and an awkward love triangle is established. review by Aleksandar Radovanović // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 21
Top 10 Young European Filmmakers of 2013 They are young, fearless and have much to share with the world: Each with his or her own style, each with a different and impressive body of work that has made them standout from the pack with merit. These are some of the brightest young stars in the business, having left their mark in 2013 with some groundbreaking films and awards. Come and met the Top Ten New European directors that will surely be taking over the world in the very near future.
Yuri Ancarani Born in Italy - 1972
Italian filmmaker and video artist Yuri Ancarani is fast becoming a reference in the experimental film world with his unique style and approach to filmmaking. Mixing documentary style approaches with contemporary art, he has managed to develop a film discourse unmistakably personal, which has not gone unnoticed within the film industry. His work has been widely distributed in the festival circuit where he has reveleaded himself as one of the brightest rising stars around. This year alone he won major awards such as the main prize for best short film at the Rotterdam Film Festival and Indielisboa. In the past he has gather prizes and seen his film screened at other major events, in particularly at his native Venice Film Festival and at the legendary Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival.
Il Capo (2010) Piattaforma luna (2011) Da Vinci (2012)Â
Da Vinci by Yuri Ancarani
Italian director Yuri Ancarani is fast becoming a reference in the world of experimental filmmaking. This year in Rotterdam he brought us a unique film about the fine line between the automated and the organic in modern medicine, “Da Vinci”, which quickly became one of the most talked about films in competition. Eirini Nikopoulou caught up with him to find out more about his latest work. Did you study Medicine or something like that? Why did you decide to depict real time surgery? Yuri Ancarani: No, absolutely not! My first encounter with the surgery room was traumatic! Gradually I got used to it, as I spent much time with the doctors in that surgery room. What appealed to me the most was the fact that inside a human body it is possible for a machine, a robot, to work.
It is very interesting that during the surgery we see no blood, or red colour anywhere. We can only see blue instead. Was that made on purpose? There is so much blood! Everywhere! However, I didn’t want to create feelings of disgust or fear in the audience. I wanted them to watch the “clean” parts. Regarding the blue colour, it was a mistake I made. There were three cables and I mistook the red with the blue! Nevertheless, nothing changes. It might be better this way actually because it allows you to do this trip. The doctors themselves who saw the film told me that they would rather watch this relaxing blue colour while operating, instead of red all the time. So, I am going to propose this to hospitals around the world! Your film has already been de-
The film follows Da Vinci, a robot-surgeon, located in the Department of Robotic Surgery in Pisa, during a routine operation. Maintaining the ideal balance between the realistic approach of a film documenting a surgery and the elegant poetic depiction of a dedicated doctor’s handling of a joystick, Yuri Ancarani brilliantly builds up the spectators’ suspense until the surgery is finished and the camera exits the body. It is then that an understanding of the place and actions involved is revealed, as a consequence of all the small fragments of images, which have proceeded it, fall into place.
scribed as an “informal success”. Why do you think the audience is intrigued that much by your film? I think people are interested because this is the first time they are able to watch a needle from the other side. Also, what is really important for me is that during the last scene, the domino scene, the music is composed by a young and talented musician, Lorenzo Senni, who has used different pieces of sounds used in videogames during the last 20 years. This is like a representation of our generation. This is kind of a paradoxical situation because we have considered in the last few years that playing videogames is a waste of time, but actually it appears as a very precious skill.
In this video-game driven film world, which shows the high contrast between the natural (human body) and the artificial (operating robot), strong film techniques are utilized to attribute unique cinematic value. Sequences of (inevitable) close ups, medium and long shots skillfully edited to the rhythm of the heartbeat and carefully crafted “chiaroscuro” cinematography, stretching out to expressionistic aesthetics, perfectly serve the rotation between a human (doctors) and an artificial (Da Vinci) point of view. The film artfully manipulates us to a paradoxical condition where “sci-fi” oriented elements are part of our everyday life and capable video game players might eventually save a life in a surgery. All these, wrapped up with a subtle sense of witty humor, allow us to “upgrade” to the “next level” that is an exquisite audiovisual experience.
After presenting a primitive-like conductor of excavators in a quarry (Il Capo) followed by gas platform workers living inside a capsule (Piattaforma Luna), Yuri Ancarani completes his trilogy of work with this ‘arcade reminiscent’ operating theatre, where his previous equation is reversed and the machine now “lives” inside the human body.
review & interview by Erini Nikopoulou // photo by
// Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 27
Ninja Thyberg Born in Sweden - 1984
One of skandinavia´s most promising young directors is unquestionably Ninja Thyberg, whose provocative and daring short films have been attracting much attention to her undeniable skills as a filmmaker. Her vision and treatment of the body and gender issues is nothing short then innovative, exploring its depths and limits without ever falling in the trap of being exploitative. It was in this year’s edition of the Cannes film festival that the wider world first noticed her talent, winning the Canal + award at the Critic´s Week, for her latest short film Pleasure, a both amusing and intimidation portrait of a porn film set. Also this year, her previous film Afro received the audience award at FEST – New directors|New Films Festival. She is currently working on her new short film Hot Chicks and planning her first feature film.
Mother Father Child (2011) Afro (2012) Pleasure (2013) Hot Girls (2014)
Pleasure by Ninja Thyberg
Ninja Thyberg was one of the most talked about names in Cannes this year. Her latest short film Pleasure was an undeniable success which culminated in a major award for the Swedish filmmaker. Her provocative and smart film portrait of the more mundane side of a pornographic shot and body abuse went on to surprised many audiences around the world after the french event, making it one of the most vital films of the year. Our reporter, Sophie charlotte Rieger, met her in Cannes for a long chat about her provocative vision of the world of porn and the body. Why did you choose to make a movie about a porn shot? I’ve been interested in the porn industry for a long time (...) I studied a lot of porn on YouPorn, which is the biggest website for free porn. Then I was really curious about those people. Who are they behind
the stereotypes? (…) And also I particularly like to work with power in relationship to the body (…). I’m really interested in exploring identity, sexuality and group dynamics. So porn is a very good subject. The coloring of your movie is almost porn-style, really bright and shiny. Why did you choose this style? The most important thing for me was not to make it dirty, because I think that is the way porn has been treated in movies most of the time. It has been depicted really rough, dirty and grainy, with a shaky hand camera kind of feeling. I really wanted to do it totally different (…) and to flirt a little bit with the audience, to make them want to see it by using nice colors and a shiny, glossy surfaces. How did you find your actors? I had very long casting sessions in different cities in Sweden. But I found both
Young Swedish director Ninja Thyberg has throughout the last few year´s proved herself as one of the most promising young female directors in Europe, with her previous short, Afro, being selected at several festivals and gathering much praise along the way. Her new film, Pleasure, is set on the backstage of a pornographic film, the short tells us the story of a beautiful blond porn actress determined to make her mark in the sex industry by accomplishing a feat none of her colleagues have managed to achieve, a double anal scene. The failed attempts, and the tears caused by them, by other female porn actresses are not enough to deter her from her resolutions. Ironically it is not the money that seems to drive her willingness to abuse her body in such a way, although in the porn industry that factor is never to be neglected. In fact her attitude appears to be a lot more related to the challenge of the scene, and perhaps more important, her inner necessity to prove herself and everyone around her that she is unique. Nevertheless her decision seems drastic and not fully thought out and at points she appears to be overwhelmed by the task at hand. Her male co-star tries to discreetly talk her out of it through flirting and appealing to the special personal relation they have developed throughout their time working together.
Most interesting about the film is Thyberg´s depiction of the young actress´s physical preparation for such an “epic” scene. You would think that such a plot would be bordering on the repulsive, but the absurd variety of instruments and techniques that the character has to use, and through the use OF subtle comedic tricks, Thyberg managed to transform the whole situation into a funny affair, with hilarious results at points. Stylistically the film is spotless. The glossy lighting and the excess of bright pink and yellow colours all over the set and characters give you a sense of the sterility and rubbery environment so typical of a porno shot. Having said this, the acting in here is a key element in transforming the instant and fake relationship between the two porn actors into something much more personal, convincing and most important captivating. Pleasure is a great achievement in the sense that it is a provocative and clever look at body abuse in a world so frequently deprived of good humour.
Jenny and Christian, who play the male and female leading roles by putting out an ad on a website for actors. (…) There were a few people who had been in porn that contacted me and wanted to be part of it, but I didn’t want that because then I wouldn’t have been able to talk as openly about my opinions on the porn industry. Can you picture yourself doing something more explicit? Definitely. I want to do a feature on the same subject in which I would like to show the sex scenes as well. In the short there are no sex scenes, just the preparations. (…) I’m thinking, maybe you could do a really good animation to make it look like a real sex scene. Or you could fake it. You see Christian’s genitals [in “Pleasure”] but it’s a fake. So maybe it’s possible to fake the whole thing. As for the audience: Maybe people get uncomfortable if it’s too much nudity and sex scenes. And it’s also hard with the actors. I don’t want to ask them to have sex for real. I would try to find a way to work around that.
review by Fernando Vasquez // interview by Sophie Charlotte Rieger // photo by //Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 31
Paul Wright Born in UK - 1982
Scottish director Paul Wright first caught our attention back in 2009, when one of his first short films won a main award at Locarno. Since then he has experienced an impressive climb, having also won a Bafta for his short film Until the River Runs Red, among other awards. Yet, despite all his early success it was this year that his name really stood out, with the premiere in Cannes of his first feature film, For Those in Peril. Mixing traditional tales and mythology with a fusion of different visual styles, his films are special to say the least. For Those in Peril is a groundbreaking effort, that puts his native Scotland back on the map with great style and confidence.
Believe (2009) Photos of God (2010) Until the river runs red (2010) For those in peril (2013)
For Those in Peril by Paul Wright
Paul Wright is not only Scotland’s most successful young filmmaker but also one of its most daring and visionary one. For those in peril stood out in this year´s edition of the Critics´ Week with its mixture of visual styles, intimate atmosphere and unforgettable ending. Leila Hamour caught up with Wright to find out more about the film. Stories and legends from the sea are a big part of the film, is it a cultural fact, specific to Scotland? I grew up in a similar village on Scotland´s east coast, so the ocean is part of my everyday life. I grew up with these stories and legends so the idea was to have a character old enough to know better than becoming obsessed with all those myths as a way to possibly get redemption. Those stories exist for thousands of years so it was interesting to take one of them
and making it a part of the film, it raises the stake and it gives an epic dimension to the film, like heaven will return to earth if he could conquer this devil figure which symbolises the bad. How did the idea came to your mind? Does it have something to do with a personal experience? It took me a while to admit it but looking back I have obviously used my own experiences. I grew up in a small village 30 seconds walk to the ocean, so it has inspires me in the atmosphere, visuals and sounds of the film. I lost my father when I was quite young, at an age you know what is going on but you can’t totally accept the finality of death. Why did you use all those different film formats? The simple version of the story is a love story, a strange love story between this
Paul Wright has certainly pulled no punches with his debut feature film, a surreal and mythical masterpiece that tackles grief at its very rawest. The Scottish filmmaker represented British cinema – which has been largely shunned this year – at the Critic’s Week strand of the festival with the bold and experimental For Those In Peril, a picture in competition for the illustrious Camera d’Or prize.
understandable grief and post-traumatic stress to something more sinister. Flashes of surrealism do a more obvious job of suggesting his spiralling mindset, but it’s his interaction with others that proves more unnerving. From his painful oblivion to those around him to his inappropriate relationship with his brother’s fiancé, Aaron’s grip on reality slackens the more he participates in the real world.
Set in an isolated fishing village, the film opens in the aftermath of a tragic accident at sea, in which five young men have perished. Only Aaron is alive and, struggling to come to terms with the disaster that has also killed his older brother, he is both wracked with survivor’s guilt and suffocating beneath the dreadful blame that the entire community has placed on him. As his grieving mother Cathy watches helplessly, Aaron sinks deeper into the throes of mental illness. Fuelled by urban myths and fantastical legends, he soon becomes convinced that he’ll find his brother alive, and that he’ll return him and the rest of the men to the town so that things can go back to the way they were.
In many ways Wright’s film is reminiscent of Lenny Abrahamson’s dark coming-of-age drama What Richard Did. Both are adept at capturing a sense of place and community (Scottish and Irish, respectively) through well-considered visuals. They also share a masterful command of dialogue and vernacular, meaning we never doubt the legitimacy of the teens that inhabit these worlds. The structure and editing of For Those In Peril does an excellent job of supporting the film’s overall tone. It’s disjointed and claustrophobic: inserts of pixelated news reports and old video footage set against the grim seaside events, all very much reflecting Aaron’s state of mind.
two brothers, and I wanted Michael to be a real presence in the film. So using these home made videos was very important to have him as a real character, not just talking about him. The use of those entire formats was a key for the film to fully explore characters and give a depth to the different states of mind of Aaron. And those different formats allow us to create sensory feelings that add an emotional intensity to the film. What are your first impressions of Cannes, are you happy to be here? Excepting the weather it’s great. But I’m happy to be here especially because the audience reactions are very positive. People are obviously connecting with my film, which is amazing. I couldn’t have asked for more as a starting place for the film and for me. It gives it a better chance of getting it out there so people can see it. It won’t be for everyone, but we hope it really has impacted the ones that have liked it.
If there’s fault to find in Wright’s work, it perhaps lies in its attempt to maintain a dramatic, almost poetic mood throughout. The frequent internal monologues can at times feel contrived, and the tone sometimes pervades a sense of melodrama. However it’s all dedication to the film’s message, and the surprising, gripping final scene is a huge pay-off. This is definitely one to watch.
It’s an ambitious premise but Wright doesn’t shy away from it. Instead, he attacks head-on, determined to portray such emotional turmoil with accuracy regardless of the effect on the viewer’s comfort. It is a difficult watch – consistently grim without much respite, but it works. Particularly impressive is the subtlety with which we realise Aaron’s transition from
review by Robyn Davies // interview by Leila Hamour // photo by Fernando Vasquez // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 35
Katrin Gebbe Born in Germany - 1983
German cinema seems to be living a sort of rebirth, with a series of successful films making headlines in the festival circuit. All that was missing was a name and a face we could point out confidently as the best example of such a phenomenon. Katrin Gebbe is one of Germanyâ€™s most promising new talent after surprising the film world with her debut feature Nothing Bad Can Happen, which premiere at the un certain regard section of the Cannes film festival. Having first graduated in Design and visual communication in her native country she went on to study film and direct a series of short films. Her big breathrough came this year with one of the most daring films on display at the French Riviera. Nothing Bad Can Happen is an undeniable proof of her great talent in emotional manipulation, having created a film about the abuse of a young man, that is both devastating and gripping. Her courage and determination are only two of her most defining features, making us all wildly wonder about her future. Sores & SĂŽrĂŽn (2008) Narzissen (2008) Nothing bad can happen (2013)
Nothing Bad Can Happen by Katrin Gebbe
German cinema seems to have found a new heroine. Her name is Katrin Gebbe and in 2013 she had the opportunity to bring to Cannes one of its most daring and mind-blowing films in competition, Nothing bad can happen. What does it feel like to be in Cannes with your first film? It’s incredible and it took me a while to realize that I’m really here. I see myself more as an artist than as a filmmaker. Some people think that filmmaking is not an art. In Cannes, people think different of course. But when you find the right material and get euphoric about it, the movie is always going to end up somewhere. Even if it is not Cannes. What is Cannes anyways? Cannes is a compliment, you meet a lot of people and the weather is nice. But I think you can also be happy somewhere else. Cannes is not the ultimate benchmark.
Why did you become a filmmaker? I knew that I wanted to become an artist. But as a student at a small town highschool I had no clear idea of what art actually was. Since I liked the school and the people there, I went to an art academy in the Netherlands, the AKI in Enschede. I took courses on painting, sculpturing and also on film. And then a professor showed us Pasolini´s Salo, which is very provocative. And I suddenly realized how powerful a movie can be. I felt like I could express a lot more with this medium than with photography or painting. Is that the reason for Tore Tanzt being such a powerful movie? I think I made a powerful film because I’m very powerful myself. I wouldn’t go for quiet cinema. I do pay attention to details, but I always want it to be powerful in some way.
The German debuting filmmaker Katrin Gebbe is one lovely lady. At the screening of her first feature Nothing Bad Can Happen in Cannes, she charms the audience with a funny chat, honest smile, and sparkling eyes. All the more surprising is the disturbing nature of her directorial debut (which she also scripted) about the young Christian punk Tore, who moves in with the family of a man he meets by chance. Though his background remains unclear, Tore is a vulnerable young man looking for a family he can belong to. What begins as an unexpected friendship between a lost soul and a supposedly charming family man gradually turns into torture. The boy becomes the target of cruel abuse designed to test his faith in Jesus, as the man, Benno, proves himself to be a sadistic monster.
Do you want to be provocative? I like filmmakers who take risks. (...) But I think it’s really about doing something that sticks to people’s minds. You can’t do that by presenting a perfect happy ending. Actually that sounds strategic, but then as an author and filmmaker you have to be strategic in a way. I want to convey a message and not just provide entertainment that people forget about the next day. How do you position yourself within the landscape of German cinema? I don’t feel the need to fit in anywhere. Hopefully the nomination in Cannes will enable me to remain that independent and convince people in Germany to give me the chance to continue making movies like Tore Tanzt.
Nothing Bad Can Happen doesn’t support religion neither judges it an evil. In the end the movie is more than just a realistic depiction of religious Puritanism. It also explores the dark ability of the human mind to turn into a merciless machine. When power relations are involved, even seemingly innocent victims are capable of the most horrible deeds. The subtle storytelling of the 30-year-old director leaves little room for hope, the title of the last chapter. The only moments in which Tore seems truly happy is when he dances with Benno’s 15-year-old stepdaughter Sanny, but for the greater part of the film, Tore is really dancing with the devil.
Divided into three chapters –faith, hope and love - the movie shows a glimpse of reality in which Tore’s endless willingness to sacrifice turns into a symbol of Jesus’ suffering. The performance by the young actor Julius Feldmeier is profoundly touching and intimate. The hand-held camera floats like a Holy Spirit through the movie, following Tore’s pain in this portrait of religious conservatism. At first, one might think that Gebbe only portrays Tore as
a naïve Christian who believes a broken car will start to work again as long as he prays to Jesus, but she doesn’t. Instead she slowly reveals dark deficits on both sides of the religious fence.
review by Kris Derks // interview by Sophie Charlotte Rieger // photo by Elisabeth Renault-Geslin // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 39
Benedikt Erlingsson Born in Iceland - 1969
The oldest in the list but also one of the most celebrated this year, is Iceland´s Benedikt Erlingsson, whose first feature Of Horses and Men “stole” the competition in the San Sebastian and Tokyo Film Festivals, among other awards and important selections. Erlingsson´s first steps in the industry where actually in front of the camera, having participated as an actor in influential films such as Lars Von Trier´s The boss of it all or Rúnar Rúnarsson´s Volcano. That experience eventually took him
Thanks (2007) Of horses and men (2013)
Of horses and men by Benedikt Erlingsson
The great winner of this year´s edition of the New Directors section of the San Sebastian Film Festival was a groundbreaking film from Iceland. Benedikt Erlingsson, the Nordic actor turned filmmaker, was the name on everyone´s lips, so our reporter, Júlia de Balle, tracked him down alongside his main star, Charlotte Bøving, who happens to be his wife. An exclusive and special insight into their debut feature, Of Horses and Men. When did you start working on this script? It’s been a long process. The ideas have been a long time with me, they come from my background, living with horses and people, and working in the countryside. Are you from a rural background? No, I’m from Reykyavík, but there’s this tradition in Iceland that when you’re a teenager you go and work with the farmers for three months. And it was a shock. And maybe in this film I’m trying to heal myself after that shock.
There are some brutal scenes, did you make them up or are they a part of Iceland’s imaginary? Like when the wire blinds this man… Yes, this can happen. Everything can happen. If the wire breaks, because of the tension, it can really hurt someone. We have these national roads and it’s in our constitution that you cannot block these paths, but some farmers do and then a conflict starts. I was also curious about what the Latin boy does with the horse… Well, don’t they do it all the time in Latin America? (laughs) No, this is an old trick that you use in Iceland when you’re caught in bad weather, it has been done since ancient times and the grandfather of a friend saved his life like this. And it’s important that it was a Latin character because he knows how to kill a cow, or a horse, because he knows about bullfighting. How important is humour in this story? For me it’s very important. When you tell a good story humour is always there. Even if you tell something very sad about your life
Writing about an artwork without straight recognizable references or familiar patterns is delicious and challenging just as it is somewhat frightening. Benedikt Erlingsson signs this odd jewel as his first feature, although he’s no firsttimer in terms of storytelling. Widely awarded for his theatre plays, he’s regarded to be one of Iceland’s most talented directors.
randomly meet fellow residents when sharing a similarly isolated piece of land. Yet acting per se does not seem to be present; it just flows, leaving the audience in the privileged position of a nearby witness. This may very well be a consequence of the fact that the actors are actual friends of Erlingsson (or even his wife) and do have horses in their real lives.
Of Horses and Men is a captivating film wrapped up with the harshly beautiful Icelandic landscape. It focuses in a small community of people living in the countryside who attempt to peacefully merge their demanding and helpless desires with a simple and traditional life alongside the wild horses’ herds. However, truth be told, at least regarding the peace factor, they are not very lucky. Throughout the story’s unravelling more than one, even more than two, very severe events occur – each of them so visually haunting they get stuck in the retina’s memory and may very likely lead to discussions on limits, rivalry, endurance or honour.
The Icelandic horse is said to be specially robust and tough as opposite to more slender races. This is wisely used by the camera as it is placed low, always framing ample portions of ground and thus showing how gracefully the hoofs caress the earth during the ridings, or how hard people grip their desires and fight in their quests. Tagged as a tragicomedy, personal dramas are intertwined with subtle humour, exquisitely rooted in the narrative’s repetitiveness or the characters’ primitive behaviours. The original score is worth being mentioned too, for it precisely emphasizes the story’s rhythm and the subtext’s tone all the way through. A new voice is coming from the North and, hopefully, we’ll be hearing it sometime soon.
or about a very tragic film, you should try to see the humorous side of it, in order to make literature out of your life. What is the film actually about? It’s been said that it’s about the horse in men and the men in horse. Maybe this is banal, but it’s important to accept that humanity is also very animalistic. People are brutal like animals, we say, but people are also lovable like animals. In Icelandic language you can say “he’s a horse”, it’s a common nickname.
A notably varied line-up of characters configures a wellbalanced sieve where everyone has about the same prominence as the others and delivers his/her particular dramatic peak in its due course – all rushes avoided. Actors seem to naturally come and go, just as one would
Is it negative? I can tell you why is not that negative. Because it’s a very tough country to live in, you don’t have this weather or a ground that it’s just giving, life is tough in there. Today we can heat our houses but your mother, for example… BE: My mother was born in a house made of stone and mud, so only very recently we’re coming out of the mud. We’ve been living very close to the animals to keep us warm. Maybe we have some kind of connections that in Spain you have not. Where you shocked about the film? review & interview by Júlia de Balle // photo by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 43
Jim Taihuttu Born in The Netherlands - 1981
One of the most outstanding faces of the Dutch new cinema, Jim Taihuttu has been creating a name for himself quite rapidly. He began writing and directing his own short films until his big break come up with Rabat, which achieved significant success in the Netherlands, winning a few awards in the process. But 2013 was to be an even more significant shift for the young filmmaker, as his amazing second feature Wolf blew away the competition winning the audience award in San Sebastian and Austin Fantastic Fest. His portrait of immigrant life in modern Holland is a sort of confrontation against the post card image we all have of the region, making him a both vital and necessary filmmaker.
Dominique (2010) Rabat (2011) Wolf (2013)
Wolf by Jim Taihuttu
Jim Taihuttu is part of a new breed of dutch filmmakers willing to push the limits of a conservative local scene. His brand new work, Wolf, quickly became a favourite in San Sebastian, so our reporter Sara Martínez Ruiz tracked him down to find out just how hard it was making such a powerful feature. Documentary tradition is in fact an important thing in Dutch cinematography. Were you influenced by it? I like to work in documentary research, I think documentaries are great. A friend as a cameraman I always work with is actually a documentary cameraman. And I like to take an actor and just start walking and go into reality. And just try to put scenes or actors into reality. Some Dutch filmmakers think that there is a new generation in The Netherlands, is there any place for new voices?
Yes, and maybe it is because the whole generation has been failing to make interesting movies. This year, for instance, a Dutch movie was selected for the first time in Cannes, so that means there should be a change. There should be room for younger people and the audience is getting younger as well. I think this moment is not the best time to become a filmmaker… (Interrupting) This is not the best time to become anything! Only to become old… Indeed… but I wander how difficult is for you to try to shoot a film? Well, this is our second movie. On the first we put the entire budget ourselves, 210.000€, and made the movie ourselves: we produced it ourselves, we wrote it ourselves, we directed it ourselves, we did it with our hole crew and cast that weren’t paid and we shot with a 5D Canon. After that, doing the second movie became easier. But nobody
There is a kind of new wave of filmmakers in the Netherlands who are gradually making an impression in the international film industry, by standing strong and, in some way, deeply marked by its national documentary tradition, so social and risky at the same time. In this breeding ground where new voices are beginning to tell their own stories loud and clear, Jim Taihuttu’s second film is one of those to keep in mind. A not real but really close to reality story of a young man who tries to be successful in the life he choose for himself, a life of crime and mafia, moved by the same desires than his neighbours: give it all to his family. His uncontrollable violence brings him to a kickboxing training ground, in a failed attempt to change the way of his unavoidable journey towards the abyss. The audience can just sit withstanding the blows and wait for the end of this contemporary tragedy.
on the edge. Written in stone by his origin as the word stands out on his chest, Rabat, the main character fights even literally to defend their ethical principles in that coherent way than we cannot but exonerate him. As Van Der Keuken and all his predecessors were interested in the causes that either make society work or not, Taihuttu offers an honest take on reality by finding out the reasons of people’s behaviour. Trying to go further in character´s development, the handheld camera approaches very close in black and white, hypnotized by the strength of Marwan Kenzari’s ligh and shadows. A deep social portrait led by repressed anger of those who see their lives going by, rolling in a vicious circle that needs to blow up. And that is just what they are asking for, staring into audience’s eyes and putting them in the shoes of those characters that are as hateful as forgivable.
wanted to give us a chance for the first one. I think making your first movie is the hardest, in between not making a movie and making your first one there is like a universe. Why did you decided to make your own producer company? Because the existing companies weren’t interested in our stories. A lot of Dutch producer companies, a lot of them, are still like in 1994: the way they work, the way they spend their budgets, the way they think about films. But it is a new time, it is a new generation, the kids are there, they can shoot something with a phone, with a laptop. If you have a canon 5D and a Macbook you can make a movie. That is how you do your first movie.
Family’s unconditional love, equality of opportunities, social determinism and racism are the grounds where deep built characters step on, involved by an unbreathable atmosphere floating on this social environment taken to extremes, in a strong portrait of Dutch society where second generation of Turkish and North African immigrants live
review & interview by Sara Martínez Ruíz // photo by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 47
Tomasz Wasilewski Born in Poland - 1980
Tomasz Wasilewski studied film in Warsaw and Łódź (Poland). He directed shorts- a feature and one documentary, and worked as an assistant director on feature films (including Lars von Trier's Antichrist). When he moved on to making features himself, Wasilewski brought along interesting stories and a vision of filmmaking that sets him apart in the context of Polish cinema. Visually, he has a penchant for master shots, which also have a direct impact on how he works with his actors. Story wise, his two films so far- In a Bedroom and Floating Skyscrapers- are daring and unapologetic. His projects are the kind that make established actors agree to work for free, and young ones train for 4 months with professional swimmers in order to be immersed in the characters. The people over at Karlovy Vary Film Festival have proven to be Tomasz Wasilewski's spiritual fathers, with both his features premiering there. In the 2013, he was awarded the East of the West trophy for Floating Skyscrapers. In the Bedroom (2012) Floating skyscrapers (2013)
Floating Skyscrapers by Tomasz Wasilewski
Tomasz Wasilewski is an old acquaintance of Nisimazine. In 2012 we kept on bumping in his path as we travelled the continent showing his first feature In the bedroom. This year we also met him in Karlovy Vary where we blew away all competition. What is Floating Skyscrapers about? The films I make and the scripts I write are about love. That is the content of Floating Skyscrapers which has a complex situation: it’s a story of finding on self and one’s way in life by fighting for the thing you love; about a relationships between two men, a guy and a girl, mother and son, father and son. For me and the actors it was a journey inside human beings where we tried to reach the deepest levels of human sensibility. What is your new outlook when it comes to homosexuality in Polish film?
There is another Polish movie, In the Name of, screened at Berlinale, that is also touching the subject. It is som thing new for Polish cinema. Until now we didn’t have gay or lesbian protagonists. There was a void for these characters so Floating Skyscrapers opens up a new subject. When we were making the movie we never thought about it being controversial, but we are only now thinking about it when being asked. We only tried to tell a story about real people. Of course, we chose the characters and the topic to do something for the first time, but the most important thing was to tell the truth. That’s why there is not a lot of social background, but em tions. I wanted to tell this story through people, their love and pain, so it would be easier for the viewer to combine and understand the characters. How did you decide to have such a main character?
The focus of Floating Skyscrapers is on the most important questions in the life of young people: career and love. In the centre of the classical melodrama narrative is a love triangle between Kuba, a successful athlete, his girlfriend, Sylwia, and a new friend, Michel, who they meet at an exhibition opening. In the beginning, Kuba denies his feelings towards Michel, but as time passes, he admits that he does have them. Therefore, his life turns upside down. Due to the overwhelming love he feels both his career and his private life fall apart. The plot would work as a romance in a Western-European environment but in this Central-European context, where homophobia is still a current problem both in a political and everyday level, it can’t be anything else but a melodrama.
It was important to try to escape the clichés as much as I could, as I didn’t want a movie about a poor gay victim because it’s a cinema stereotype. When we started the rehearsals, the most important topic was love and for the first two months we didn’t consider gender at all, only emotional reactions. When we added gender, it changed the whole script once again but it had the basis of real emotions. I wanted to make the main character as common as he could be. It is more fascinating to deal with this problem in such an enviro ment. Did you have any major production cha lenges? It was an independent movie without a big or closed budget and it was difficult to find money for it. I started shooting it before the première of my first movie, so nobody in Poland knew who I am and what I’m cap ble of. But the producers liked the script, and decided to make it. i
The visual world of the movie is memorable, especially the special compositions and the underwater scenes. Besides the portraying of deep love, sexuality is also depicted on a relatively open, passionate but still not provocative way. The several close-ups of Kuba’s face help the viewer to get close and empathize with him. Both the script and the direction of Tomasz Wasilewski are excellent: we can see complex situations, realistic conflicts, well constructed characters with understandable motivations. Only the family relationships of Kuba and Michel are unrealistic and not detailed enough. The three main actors played in TV- series and short movies before. Luckily, this time they could challenge themselves with a feature film. It was obviously a good decision, first of all because of Mateusz Banasiuk’s acting. I absolutely agree with the Jury’s decision. Floating Skyscrapers is a well-done movie, accompanied by impressive film music, it is absolutely worth to watching.
Even though queer movies are produced in Poland since the mid 1980’s, the struggle for LGBT equality in the last couple of years’ encourages more and more scriptwriters to turn towards the stories of this community. This year Malgoska Szumowska’s In the name of… was screened at the Berlinale and Tomasz Wasilewski’s second feature film, Floating skyscrapers won the East of the West section at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Hopefully the success of these movies will help the Polish equality movement reach its aims.
review by Lilla Puskás // interview by Nino Kovačić // photo by Lucía Ros Serra // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 51
Tudor Jirgiu Born in Romania
One of the names we kept encountering all throughout the year was Romanian young director Tudor Cristian Jirgiu. It was neither an accident nor a mere coincidence. Jirgiu accomplished the ultimate trick this year: he release one short film (In Acvariu) and his first feature (Japanese Dog), having them both premiering at major festivals, first in Cannes then in San Sebastian. His presence at these festivals could hardly be more successful, having won the 3rd place award at CannesÂ´ prestigious Cinefondation competition. He is now very well positioned to take on the success of his predecessors in a country that has surprised the world of cinema in the last decade and a half.
Nunta lui oli (2009) In Acvariu (2013) Japanese Dog (2013)
Japanese Dog by Tudor Cristian Jurgiu
The young Romanian filmmaker is on a high. After much acclaim and award in Cannes´ Cinefondation competition he arrives in San Sebastian with his ambitious first feature. Robyn Davies spoke to him to find out more. You rewrote the film’s script, why was that? I felt it lacked a bit of action and was too slow. The original screenplay was also based in another region of Romania so I shifted the location, meaning the relationships in the village are different. The screenwriter isn’t very happy with it now so it’s going to be interesting talking about it in a conference! But I finally came back to the simple core of the story – this man, not his relationship with everyone else. So you enjoy taking on other roles, including writing? I like to try other things. I actually acted in two films of my colleagues just to see how it is. It
was kind of disturbing (laughs) But I learned a lot, especially to have more patience with the actors. I now take a lot of time to build a good working relationship with them. I think everyone should try being on both sides of the camera to get a better understanding of film. This is your first feature but you’ve made a few shorts. Did you use the same development process? With the feature I used much more feedback from other people, particularly from the actors. Before, everything was just my decision but here I was obviously working with another screenwriter and also my DOP. We worked together a lot on the script, talking about how to shoot each scene as well as the dialogue. Was it hard to get Japanese Dog financed? The short films really helped a lot with that, I made a lot of connections. The producer of
The most fascinating thing about human relationships is that everyone experiences them in different ways, and it’s this idea that director Tudor Cristian Jurgiu fully explores in his first feature Japanese Dog. Debating the necessity of verbal communication within familial relationships, it takes a look at how people cope differently with love and loss. The result is a quietly confident film, subtle and relatable with a lot of emotion at its centre. After losing his wife, his home and all of his possessions to the devastating 2010 floods in Romania, an elderly man starts attempting to piece his life back together. Despite offers of help from many people in the community, he’s stubborn and solitary and unwilling to accept. But when his grown-up son, Ticu, hears of his mother’s death and insists on flying over from Japan to visit, the old man must learn how to communicate and rebuild a relationship with a son he hasn’t seen for 20 years.
my first short ended up working on my feature because the first film turned out so well. Even if you think your short film isn’t that good you should send it to festivals. In Bucharest we have a short film festival called NexT and lots of big directors come so there are many opportunities for financing. How much did film school help to launch your career and do you think it’s a necessary step? You can definitely do it by yourself. There’s access to so much information now – you can basically buy the whole history of film on the internet! Of course, it’s different from one person to the other, but it helped me a lot. You can’t really quantify what you learn from some classes, but it definitely has an effect on you somehow. A school is a good medium to be in and you can get money to make films that you wouldn’t get elsewhere.
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive aspects of Japanese Dog is the framing of the shots. While the focus is always on the old man, he’s set against backgrounds that are rich with detail and work as much as a storytelling device as the script does. From striking landscapes to modest scenes in his house, the cinematography totally supports the claim that a picture is worth a thousand words. Subtlety really is the film’s forte, and when father and son finally do manage to communicate (after much carefullyconstructed tension) it’s so beautiful in its simplicity that it’s the perfect payoff.
This is certainly a film that opts for reflecting its theme through its stylistic choices. Just as the old man’s journey to reconnect with his son is slow and steady, so is the storytelling itself. Details are revealed to us as part of a slow trickle of information, using just the smallest gesture or
interaction to say a lot about the characters’ pasts or the general atmosphere around them. The script is particularly effective in this sense, featuring incredibly concise and telling dialogue that’s as much about what’s left unsaid as it is about the actual words. When you can immediately read between the lines of a seemingly simple question and feel the weight of years of pent up emotions behind it, you know you’ve come across a really intelligent and skillful film – and that’s exactly what this is.
review & interview by Robyn Davies // photo by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 55
Daria Belova Born in Russia - 1982
After attending the Faculty of Philology and Arts in her native St. Petersburg, Russia, went on to work as a journalist. Her road eventually winded to Berlin, where, in 2008 she started attending the German Film and Television Academy. Her break-through came this year at the Cannes Film Festival, where her short film Come and Play won the Discovery Award. According to the director, the story of the film is a mix between the inspiration that Berlin provided, and the influence of Russian culture and art. These were blended into a short film bearing the print of the directorâ€™s commitment to highly visual story-telling.
Ballet story (2011) Come and Play (2013)
Come and Play by Daria Belova
Daria Belova is a Russian filmmaker based in Berlin very much aware of history and its impact on the contemporary look and feel of our cities. Her groundbreaking short film Come and Play, which took home the Nikon Discovery Award at the Cannes Film Festival is a sign of things to come for the bright young filmmaker. Our reporter Cecile Tollu-Polonowski met up with her before her moment of triumph to dissect her vision and inspiration. What was the starting point for Come and Play? It all started with this feeling that you have when you are in Berlin. In the first years, it’d really hit me. I would always feel it, it was striking and shocking. Maybe it is also because I’m Russian: we grow up with war literature, war films. It is a very important element for us. At night, in Berlin, you step out of a bar and then you see
the name of the street...directly a picture strikes up of what was there before: you can imagine where the army was standing, the tanks, etc. There are many bullet shots and marks of WW2. All the trees and buildings are the same than back then, they saw it. And now in the present time they see you. What would they have in mind if they could tell something? And at the same time everything coexists with party and artistic life. The other starting point was something visual: a picture of a tree and Grisha doing a handstand. How did you develop the ‘script’ and the structure of the film? The visual part is essential to me. Generally when I start writing a script, I write very visually, I don’t begin with a story. I come up with small visual situations that I wrote down together with camera positions. They grow and unite in the film. I
Daria Belova is a Russian director who settled in Berlin a few years ago. This is undoubtedly the starting point of her award winning short film Come and play, which recalls her memories and first impressions on her arrival in the German capital. A lonely child plays in a park with a false gun to an imaginary “war game”, when suddenly his imagination becomes real, delivering him tothe tanks and the explosions in an apocalyptic Berlin, where borders between past and present no longer exist. The first images of the short film show the main character, Grishka, drawing a child on a steamed window, which under the effect of the air fades away: a premonitory disappearance that signs the end of innocence.
had many images coming separately. I assembled like a mosaic. I wanted to create a dream or a memory: Many layers are not clear or very logically related, but it all stays together. How did you work with the quotes? For example, to me, the scene with the hands on the tree relates to Cocteau? The hands on the trees and Cocteau? It was unconscious, we were shooting and this idea came to me, I did not think about it while doing it. Afterwards, you can also see Polanski and Repulsion in it. It was important for me to work with quotes of black and white films about the war and its perception through children´s eyes. I was thinking of Paesa, Ivan’s Childhood etc. I wanted to follow these films at the beginning, on a visual aspect, and then to break them from the inside.
The horror of the war superimposed on the violence of human relationships condemns the little boy to humiliation and dehumanization. No matter where Grishka runs to, each place leads him further into the absurdity of the war, like this man who literally tries to go inside a wall. As for this man and the Loreley which Grishka recites the poem at the beginning of the film, there will be no exit for him, except death. Through a poignant and beautiful aesthetic, obviously inspired by Tarkowski’s Ivan’s childhood, Belova depicts Berlin as a symbol of the painful history of humanity. She carries out a very dark reflection on the weight of history on humans beings: the story of a city taken hostage by a past that does not let go.
Visions of War spring from everywhere. Soldiers, a ground covered with dead bodies, Grishka seems locked up in the past of the city: powerful black and white war imagery spreads under our eyes that seem to be coming straight from Second World War archives.
The frequent return to panoramic and long side dollies in the park plunges us into a labyrinthine space where the trees, shot with a long angle at the same height as Grishka, unveil a threatening and dominating nature.
review by Leila Hamour // interview by Cécile Tollu-Polonowski // photo by Fernando Vasquez // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 59
Jonás Trueba Born in Spain - 1981
Belonging to a dynasty is not as easy as you might think. Doors may open more easily but expectations also may lead you to complete disaster. Young Spanish filmmaker Jonás Trueba is well aware of the legacy of his name, having an Oscar winning father and an uncle no less successful behind the camera. Yet, despite what may be perceived as an advantage he clearly developed an identity of his own. After taking his first steps with his short film Cero en conciencia he began dedicating himself to scriptwriting, forming a powerful duo with Víctor Garcia León, with whom he co-wrote Vete de mi, a major local critical hit back in 2006. He went on to work with some of his family members until in 2010 he took a giant leap by directing is second film, which earn him a Goya nomination. This year he became officially a household name with his youthful and provocative Wishful thinkers, a film that became a recognizable feature in film programs across the international festival circuit as well as a myth within the industry, thanks to a daring and innovative distribution tactic. At such a young age Jonas Trueba is fast developing a significant cult following, and deservingly so.
Cero en conciencia (2000) Todas las canciones hablan de mi (2010) The Wishful Thinkers (2012)
The Wishful Thinkers by Jonás Trueba
Jonas Trueba is Spain´s rising star of the moment. We met him in San Sebastian after a year of touring with his latest work. Your second movie, The Wishful Thinkers, exudes a Nouvelle Vague air. Like them, do you also propose breaking the rules of the game? I don’t think I nor my film have invented anything. We are actually diving into the same path of many other filmmakers in Spain: the need to find another way to do things under a more realistic point of view. The impo tantthing is to make movies and live life honestly. In my previous film, although it was hard work, we had a conventional production, but in the end it was quite di appointing. With The Wishful Thinkers we did the opposite. I’m not saying it’s the ideal thing either, but at least I saved a lot of di appointments and frustrations. I wanted to be consistent and keep my feet on the
ground. Are festivals the only outlet for this kind of films? Yes, but I have also tried not to follow too much the dictates of festivals because it seems that it´s the only way for some small movies, it bothers me a bit. In fact, before going to any festival, we screened the film in a cinema in Madrid and many friends told me I was crazy but I think we chose the right option, because it was in a new cinema still trying to find it’s audience, so we both benefited from it. The room was full every day and it was something I really liked because it was very simple: we made a film, we screened it in the cinema and that’s it. I think we should create a circuit where we can make low budget films that adjust to reality and then be able to screen them. Besides, we have internet, new pla forms and channels. Maybe other people aspire to be very rich, to walk the red car-
undiscovered identity to Madrid the same way Truffaut gave it to Paris in the 60’s.
Stating it as an imperfect assumed film, Trueba ends up mentioning the reason why it is so special. Genuine and emotional, stylistically avand-garde and deeply involved with the French New Wave, reenacts a reality that is half asleep these days. The Wishful Thinkers pays tribute to filmmakers’ sincere passion for their job. To that innocent and unconscious will to make movies. The use of desy chronized sound with image produces inevitable intr spective moments worth mentioning. Having visible conceptual references from La Nuit Américaine (1973) to Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959), it gives a beautiful and
As a result, The Wishful Thinkers turns out to be more than a film: it becomes a pursuit. A pursuit for a meaning to what a filmmaker lives for. The knowledge and awar ness gained by watching it is extremely valuable. Full of cinematic and literary references, it is not just a tribute to filmmakers’ passion for cinema, but is also about the details in life that deserve to be recorded. With an astonishingly sincere work of art, Trueba manages to put into forward motion his speech and manner.
pet and be in the official selection. Honestly for me the important thing is to do what I want and what I like with no anxiety or the feeling to be in a permanent race.
If Antoine Doinel was Spanish, he would have been named Francesco Carril. Laughing, crying, drinking, talking, dreaming, loafing around the calles of Madrid or discussing about cinema in Doré, this 29- year-old ambitious filmmaker that recently finished his first feature film, captivates with his empowered freedom. With a smooth black and white photography, in The Wishful Thinkers you get the feeling that the film is under construction, bonding every possible layer throughout its development, so that the viewer has a crude perspective of what cinema is about.
With a group of friends and spare time, Trueba took roughly one year to conclude his second feature. Innovative in its form and content, becomes a brave and peculiar project due to its unique distribution program: one single copy that will be screening in minor theatres, such as art houses. This shows its concept is inherent to Art Cinema, which justifies its rawness and its capability of having been developed into a truthful masterpiece.
What do you think of new ways to get funding as crowdfunding? I’m happy that others use crowd funding b cause it works for them, but it’s not working for me. When you make a film you normally d pend on a producer that helps you getting money and somehow you owe the people, your crew, your actors. Now, if you also do a crowd funding campaign, it turns out that you are in debt to 2500 more people! (snorts). I understand that people can be wonderfully generous, but they expect something in return and I’m afraid to di appoint them. I’m trying to do the opposite: b ing less dependent in other people and to depend as far as possible on my own finaning. The Whishful Thinkers, for instance, was funded by me and a friend. Obviously, it’s a very cheap film but still, it also requires to have another job that allows you to make it. review Bernardo Lopes // interview by Sara Martínez Ruíz // photo by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 63
FESTIVAL DU FILM DE CANNES Cannes: The Holy Grail of the film festival world. This gathering of gatherings, dipped in cocktails and aperitifs, under the intense light of the film stars that flock every year to the French Riviera, is much more than a film festival. Truth be told, the French event that every year transforms the Croisette into the epicentre of the greatest earth shaking film moments, as well as queuing capital of the world, still marks the highlight of the film year. To our relief the event does not seem ready to loosen the grip it has on the industry, by forcing the world to intensively talk about cin-
ema like in no other moment in the film calendar. Its magic remains untouched and unchallenged and in 2013 Nisimazine returned once again to its natural home, to cover the groundbreaking Camera DÂ´Or competition. With a short but always passionate film selection, the festival guaranteed a healthy and much needed dose of provocation, where quality unquestionably replaced quantity, and a daring group of young filmmakers announced their arrival in the scene in the great style.
by Ritesh Batra // India
Ritesh Batra proves that Indian cinema isn’t all Bollywood with his debut feature, an uplifting indie film about finding solidarity and overcoming universal fears. The Lunchbox tells the story of Saajen (played by Life of Pi actor Irrfan Khan), a soon-to-retire widower who is disenchanted with life, and Ila, a lovely but lonely young housewife. Their paths unexpectedly cross following a mixup in the busy lunchbox service, where Ila’s meal she prepared for her husband is delivered to Saajen’s desk. Through a series of notes transported via this green lunchbox, the two become unlikely confidantes, and soon discover that they have more in common than they might ever have imagined. The plot might sound like something straight out of a romantic comedy, and it certainly displays some of the common genre tropes. Both leads have their respective ‘sidekicks’, for one, who go on to provide much of the film’s comedic value. Saajen’s comes in the form of his new coworker Shaikh, an enthusiastic and eager youth who serves as an amusingly stark contrast to the older man. Ila’s sidekick figure is that of her elderly neighbour, affectionately referred to as Auntie. She is heard but never seen, a disembodied voice that frequently shouts down advice from the flat above. While The Lunchbox undoubtedly gives a nod to the romcom, it steers clear of any expectations and doesn’t make decisions solely to cater the audience. It’s a credit to Batra’s direction and writing skills that we can care significantly about the characters and feel uplifted by them without the plot ever going down
the traditional ‘happy ending’ route. As the title might suggest, food plays an important role, and not only in making viewers’ mouths water. It’s the primary tool of communication, both between characters and between filmmaker and viewer. The daily arrival of Ila’s lunchbox (and its contents) at Saajen’s desk doesn’t just allow for the pair to correspond, but it becomes a way of communicating Batra’s intent. The Lunchbox is an emotive trigger, building tensions and impact, representing fears and signifying just how much is at stake in terms of the characters’ happiness. The camera work and use of spacing really aid in highlighting the personal journeys that are taken, most notably in the scenes of Saajen’s commute. Close-up shots standing in the middle of a suffocating crowd progress to less invasive shots of him at the window, reveling in his newfound freedom. The bustling soun scape of traffic, children playing and men singing help to form a familiar and intimate taste of India. The Lunchbox may take place in India, but the themes that lie at its heart are universally recognisable. Intimacy, loneliness, fear of change – the film never loses sight of these, but also delivers some hope in overcoming them. In one of the notes passed, Saajen muses “I think we’d forget things if we had no one to tell them to.” This film will certainly be talked about, but it’s unlikely that anyone will have trouble remembering this charming story.
review by Robyn Davies // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 65
Jodorowski’s Dune by Frank Pavich // USA Picture this: Salvador Dalí as a futuristic emperor, an obese Orson Welles hovering around in space, music by Pink Floyd and visual effects that outdo 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oh, and this would all take up around twelve hours, maybe even twenty. Preposterous? Impossible? Well, it only came this close to actually being part of film history. Upcoming talent Frank Pavich has made a wonderful documentary about it. Jodorowsky’s Dune is intriguing, inspiring, and above all immensely entertaining. The documentary tells the story about Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s insanely ambitious project to make Frank Herbert’s classic novel Dune into a movie. The project went over its budget and it never got made. At least not by Jodorowsky. We now know that David Lynch did manage to make it work. Jodorowsky couldn’t bear to watch the film when it came out in 1984, especially because Lynch was a filmmaker that would actually be right for the project, he explains in this documentary. But his son forced him to go, bringing his father to the verge of tears, until he realised Lynch had done something completely different. With a sparkle in his eyes he tells the audience how happy he got when he saw how terrible the movie turned out to be. That’s Jodorowsky for you. A man who’s extremely passionate about his work, but who also knows how to swallow his loss. The message Jodorowsky’s Dune sends to the viewer is that you should always try to be as ambitious as you can imagine, and that failing while doing so is irrelevant. Jodorowsky is
Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 66 // review by Fabian Melchers
clearly not only a passionate filmmaker, he is also a man who knows how to tell a story. The level of enthusiasm and sense of humour with which he talks about his dreamproject, works in a contagious way. You can listen to every detail he’s telling with a broad smile on your face, even though some of it might be a bit to good to be true. Did he really just happen to come across all those famous and talented people, and did they really agree so easily to be part of his film? In the end, the answer to that question doesn’t really matter. Jodorowsky’s Dune could be compared to documentaries like Hearts of Darkness, about the horrors during the making of Apocalypse Now, or Lost in La Mancha, that has a similar setup for Terry Gilliams cursed Don Quixote- a film that never saw the light of day. Yet Pavich’s film is different in an important way. His main priority is not to give insights into filmmaking itself, but rather to entertain the audience with this amazing story filled with passion for moviemaking. With an energetic and creative style, narrated via interviews with a large number of film critics, producers and directors eager to explain the importance of Jodorowsky’s project, this documentary almost comes through as a feelgood-movie, even though we know the final outcome must have caused a major letdown to everyone involved. That amount of love and optimism is what makes Jodorowsky’s Dune such a delightful and fascinating film.
Bite the dust
by Taisia Igumentseva // Russia
In this highly amusing and bizarre tragic comedy the 24 year old Russian Taisia Igumentseva portrays a village of just ten inhabi ants where everyone is set in their own ways. Divorce, for example, is not an option, unless the locals move somewhere else. But then the apocalypse is announced. In this pressure cooker situation relationships shift and social boundaries disappear, as everyone is going to hell. But what if the end of the world never comes?
The black comedy acting style also fits into Igumentsevaâ€™s remote hamlet but unfortunately the stylization comes with a price. In its core structure most of the characters remain caricatures and only one of them has an intriguing personality: the widow in mourning, an outcast intellectual, who lives in a homemade movie theatre, with hand drawn pictures of iconic movie posters such as (the also apocalyptic) The Shining and Titanic.
The newly graduate Igumentseva won the Grand Prix of CinĂŠfondation last year with her short film Road to. Now she is back with her first feature film. She creates a forgotten microcosm, giving us no clear sense of place or time. In it she demonstrates a lively sense of visual humor. Her set designs are imaginative, showing for instance an iron that is also a radio and an aviator that has created a real life robotic-like version of Da Vinciâ€™s Vitruvian Man. The obsolete technology, dingy houses and dreary landscapes reflect the sleepy lives of the villagers.
She might have a symbolic function, enforcing the idea of a preand after view on the fall of the Soviet Union, but in contrast to the others she has something much more forceful: she has the power to move the public. She gives this esthetic debut a soul and makes it a project that might be a valuable example or other young directors.
review by Laura van Zuylen // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 67
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Standing, quite literally, at the gateway between the East and the West, the Karlovy Vary International Films Festival manages to be many things for many people. It is a space where representatives of the two ‘camps’ can meet on middle ground and learn from each other. It is a showcase of cinema from all over the world, but especially from Central and Eastern Europe, to an international audience- including numerous journalists. It is also an opportunity for the distributors in this part of the continent to put together the ‘menu’ they will be offering to the public. And, more importantly, it is an occasion for Western distributors to
handpick from the best cinema coming from a market with a lot of stories to tell. One more thing that must be said about KVIFF is that the organizers have mastered a good balance between the artistic side and the market component, while also making a very popular event. Queues often go around corners, but without giving one the feeling of pressure and worry. They are more likely to encourage chatting with fellow queuers, who range from well known film journalists, to students spending 9 days in a tent to attend the festival.
by P. Pekarcik, I. Ostrchovsky, P. Kerekes // Slovakia
Three Slovak documentary directors, Ivan Ostrochovský, Pavol Pekarčík and Peter Kerekes came together for a full-length doc mentary film. Velvet Terrorists depicts Stano, Fero and Vladimir - three resistance fighters to the Soviet regime, who have served time for their disobedience, and currently live their lives still stron ly affected by the Soviet era. All the protagonists are connected not only by their rebellion, but also by the affection towards explosives and the motive of love. In this ironical documentary, the directors also play with fictional elements such as re-enactments. The documentary is divided into three parts, each dedicated to one of the three characters. Stano planned to blow up a speaker’s platform in a stadium on the night before the May Day celebrations. He was sentenced to five years behind bars. Nowadays he is a construction worker, tearing down old soviet buildings while he searches for a companion and reminisces about his long lost love. Fero tried to be a foreign spy and eventually plotted to assassinate President Husák in the hope of unleashing an anti-communist revolution, ending up in prison. Life with his wife and two teenage sons, to whom he tells about his past and shares with his experiences of blowing up cars, seems to be ideal, but is he truly happy?
We see him calling and searching for his past girlfriend, and partner in crime, who appears to still be important to him. Vladimír engaged in repeated anti-regime activities, most of them involving the destruction of public billboards, being imprisoned several times. At present he is casting a young girl to take her on a mission: explode billboards with commercials as a sign of rebellion against consumerist culture. During the preparations and training he reveals his memories and experiences, including his relationship with his ex-wife, who left him because he was in jail most of the time. The filmmakers chose an interesting and unconventional form of telling the story and portraying characters, managing to do it in a dynamic format, even though the film looks a bit naïve at some points. Using re-enactments, playful editing and illustrative music, the film gives an ironical view of the protagonists. Nevertheless, as director Ivan Ostrochovský claims, the irony here is used not to mock them, but instead to reduce the pathos from their figures. As a result the film also plays with the concept of hero, but without giving it a specific perception. review byYuri Lavecchia // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 69
Broken Circle Breakdown by Felix van Groeningen
How do humans face the loss of a loved one? Or better, how can a couple survive after the loss of their 6-year-old daughter? The young Belgian director Felix van Groeningen beautifully shows how Elise and Didier try to overcome this terrible experience together. So far, the story of The Broken Circle Breakdown doesn’t seem anything new as it can remind us (perhaps too much) of Declaration of War, the autobiographical film by French filmmaker Valérie Donzelli from 2011. But as the story progresses, the dramatic tone proposed by van Groeningen increases and the aesthetics (and musical) decisions reinforce the film as a devastatingly sad and hopeless story.
Felix van Groeningen narrates very brightly the early years of the couple: she’s a tattoo artist and he sings and plays the banjo in a bluegrass band. After their first encounter, the audience knows about the extraordinary nature of their relationship, without the need of watching cheesy unreal moments.
The film sets its start in a hospital, where Maybelle, a little girl, is being tested through a very painful procedure under the co cerned look of her parents. Soon we are transported six years before, to the first meeting of Elise and Didier (wonderfully played by Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh).
In short, The Broken Circle Breakdown is the decisive entry of F lix van Groningen in the international spotlight thanks to his narrative style filled with beauty, something that seemed almost impossible with a story infused with such sorrow.
Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 70 // review by Lucía Ros Serra
The music is very important in the film, as it is part of the life of the protagonists and, in a way, helps to make the loss more bearable for them. There is unforgettable tenderness in the moments when Didier’s band welcomes the little Maybelle after the first operation, or the marriage proposal.
The Unsaved by Igor Cobileanski // Romania, Moldova The Unsaved is the debut feature film of Moldovan director Igor Cobileanski, co-written by one of the Romanian New Wave fla men, Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest; Police; Adjective). The story focuses on an indolent 19 year-old boy trying to find his place under the sky, the style of the film being reminiscent of the aforementioned Wave. Viorel is a shiftless 19 year-old boy living in a small Moldovan town with his widowed mother, who reproaches him that he does not have a job and he lacks ambitions. He spends most of his time wandering with his pal Goose, who is a drug dealer. Viorel helps him to distribute weed via the mailbox system. The clients leave the money in the mailboxes and in the cover of night Viorel takes them and leaves the weed instead. Viorel`s ai lessness in life is contrasted with Goose`s dream to fly with his hang glider, into which he invests the earnings from the illegal business. But soon Viorel starts to be interested in one of the mailbox ow ers – a young hairdresser, Maria, who turns out to be the girlfriend of on of Goose`s former partners, which is now in jail. Viorel finally seems to be set on path – he decides to quit the weed business and starts
working in the kitchen of the local police station. But his dream to stay with Maria soon is threatened by his discoveries and it turns a slowpacing story into whirling course of events. The Unsaved is a well-made character led drama with a slice of absurd humor, done in a typical New Wave language, though out of proportion to such masterpieces as 4 Month, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. The realistic acting used here is also characteristic of the Romanian Wave. Cinematographer Oleg Mutu (4 Month, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; In The Fog) uses a slightly moving camera or long shots which are reinforcing the feeling of reality and giving the impression that the events are evolving on their own, the camera merely being an observer. The film explores the notions of the good and the bad and tests the significance of intentions versus consequences. It also provides a glimpse into the social aspects of contemporary Moldovan reality which it criticizes as lacking prospects and purpose, as a world with no clear direction. Realism is also the esthetic convention, the grim mood being constructed through desaturated colors and filming in actual locations.
review by Jorė Janavičiūtė // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 71
FESTIVALUL INTERNATIONAL DE FILM
TRANSILVANIA As an acknowledgment to Bram Stocker for making this land popular, several decades later, Romanian filmmakers submitted international critics and audience to what could be called a vampire attack. It took them by surprise and left them in a trance which they are still recovering from. The Transylvania Film Festival has been created partly to promote this new generation of filmmakers, but also to create the next one, and to build, for all of them, something more then the make-believe film industry characterizing Romania for several years after it became a democracy.
TIFF has become, in many ways, a cultural event comparable to others with a much longer tradition, and it has done so quickly. But it has still kept its cool and relaxed atmosphere and its enthusiasm, which transpire in the selection and screenings, as well as in the parallel events (such as workshops and panels), and, equally important, in the parties.
Made in Ash by Iveta Grófová // Slovakia Slovakian cinema has finally been put back on the film map. In the wake of once more regained power and confidence to produce a film destined to become internationally acclaimed, emerging new talent, Iveta Grófová, shows up with her feature debut Made in Ash. A tremendous success for a longtime overlooked tiny country in the heart of Europe. Made in Ash scooped a handful of awards and is still riding the festival circuit. Someone might say that the film possess qualities just adjusted to the arthouse formula: formalistic approach, social issues anda pinch of tragedy: An array of aspects unknown to Slovakian cinema since the New Wave. Perspective filmmakers tend to rise from the documentary Diaspora which is an amusing paradox. So is the story of Made in Ash, originally intended as a docu-piece on where young Slovakian girls end up when they sail away abroad to make a decent living. However, during the shooting process, the director found out that there is actually much more to say. So begins the story of Dorothy, freshly out of high school whose family cannot afford to keep her under one roof due to extremely low income. She moves to Aš , small Czech town by the German border, where capitalism had no impact. Actually, it looks like living museum of communist era. Nevertheless, the troubles are just around the
corner as she find herself with no money, no accommodation and left alone in a hostile world. She is about to face some unflattering choices for the future. A little hint, profiting from the closeness to the advanced West, Aš is a paradise for elderly German gentlemen with fat wallets: A.K.A. sugar-daddies. Made in Ash follows the current trend of blending fiction, documentary and animation into one coherent piece. The documentary style yields a genuine naturalism. The animation parts serve as introspection into protagonist´s mind and it is a distinguished alternative for internal monologue. And the fiction binds them all into social drama meets psychological portrait. The film functions well also in the context of coming of age dramas as the growing up in Aš is especially bitter pill to swallow. The director shuns any explicitness whatsoever using unconventional camera angles or image distortion. Moreover, the narrative structure has been built upon a fairy-tale paradigm employing several of notorious codes, thus becoming a modern (social) fable. Made in Ash proved to be a well-thought and well-structured piece of social (fairy) drama seconded by an extraordinary camerawork, intriguing lighting and transtextual crossover overshadowing some montage discrepancies. review by Martin Kudláč // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 73
The Deflowering of Eva van End Family dramedy, a mix of comedy and drama, is a hybrid genre bench marked by auteurs like melancholic Wes Anderson or suburban provocateur Todd Solondz. A dysfunctional family has become a new paradigm, story exposition and narrative environment. The Deflowering of Eva van End complies with all criteria. Director Michiel ten Horn´s feature debut sponges the basic rules of teen high-school TV series. Actually, he is dipping into the collective well of generational television folklore. The bullying, constraining school corridors, students classified by the popularity level and the grandest stereotype of them all, the unattractive yet insightfully insecure protagonist built under the auspice of Dawn Wiener. The normative narrative process cannot get more overused, but it does. After the arrival of an exchange student, a silent war begins between the titular protagonist and yet another template, the popular girls. After the first ten minutes of exposition and the revision of the whole canon of high-school comedy, the director cunningly turns the tables. The act of accommodating the ingenuous foreigner in the family serves as the demarcation line. The director acknowledges all the rules of the game only to subvert them, which works just fine and imposes sophisticated comedy elements. Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 74 // review by Martin Kudláč
by Michiel ten Horn // The Netherlands
The reformation of the coming of age has become sort of a trend in current European cinema. Young, talented and upcoming directorscreenwriters constructed a small experimental laboratory only to find out how could the norms of the outlived genre be pushed, disrupted and remodeled into a fresh and original narrative complex. Unfortunately, the concept was milked dry a long time ago. Also the exaggerated and flat caricature of the petite bourgeoisie is a bit over the top. Moreover, it´s the reason why the director´s formalistic approach and the play with genre rules and codes beat the content itself. Ten Horn has also entered the experimental lab. The transposing of plot devices popular in theatre into film, the intentional juggling with elements of auteurs´ poetics such as Anderson´s or Solondz´s, the use of the central protagonist who does not at all serve as the usual and expected one, the ever challenging and amusing subversion of the genre norms to render unprecedented and entertaining narrative complex. The form overrules the story. On the ashes of old genre rules, the new conventions are born. The Deflowering of Eva van End presents a spectacle of transformation, not only as the central leitmotif or theme, but furthermore or mainly as a stylistic and formal methodology.
So Much Water
by Ana Guevara & Leticia Jorge Romero // Uruguay
A family in a car has become a film routine over the course of last months. It is quite effective as a trope especially for oddball existential drama or coming of age comedy. Also the coming of age genre has evolved into an era defining pattern stigmatized by instant consumerism and materialism. Thereby childhood builds utopia like illusion of life only to be abruptly smashed by adolescence´s dystopia. Raging hormones are not purely to be blamed. So Much Water combines both respectively, firstly as a family road movie gone numb then reborn into warmheart coming of age tale. A divorced father takes his two kids on a traditional family holiday to a vacation resort. The tension rises up among family members. The father is desperately trying to impress his estranged kids, but the adolescent daughter´s conscious estranging and little son´s indifference don´t improve the situation. The setting of the worst family rupture tends to be a family celebration, although the claustrophobic imprisonment in the car takes the lead nowadays. Nothing beats this ideal breeding ground for repressed feelings and neurosis. Once they are out the repression falls back into unconscious thus manifesting itself latently. Uruguayan filmmaking duo, Ana Guevara
Pose and Leticia Jorge Romero, presents this family neurosis crawling underneath in a light-hearted manner, even employing a running gag, although it serves actually as a metaphor referring to the film´s title. The situational minimalistic setting enables to fiddle with certain nuances as opposed to epical narrative. The peculiar sense of idleness navigates viewers through myriads aspects of pubescence. The sour-sweet comedy invites to contemplate on coming of age ridden by melancholia, mixing teenage angst with will to break away from the parent´s control.. The motif of parental emergency interference also aptly reflects the current economical crisis and the kids´ unwillingness to become totally independent. Maybe it is this crucial albeit a bit sentimental theme of respecting parents for what they are unless they care for their children thus shifting the worn out angle of popular coming of age genre to offer a bit different perspective, the one which does not demonize nor praises parental authority. The message seems to be encrypted in this sense rather than overanalyzed unbearableness of growing up with folks behind the back. Either way, the kids are going to be stuck with them in a tiny little car for the rest of their lives. And that´s when the car trope breaks in again. review by Martin Kudláč // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 //75
MOSTRA DEL CINEMA DI
VENEZIA There is something undeniably special about Venice Film Festival. It is definitely linked to its longstanding tradition- it celebrated its 70th edition in 2013. But it also has to do with the context- it’s a sink or swim situation. Or rather a ‘sink or watch’ one. Once the boat drops you off on the Lido, you completely forget about its existence and connection to the outside world up until the festival ends. A simple skim through the programme is enough to induce a serious case of ‘missing out’ anxiety when realizing how much there is to see in such little time.
And when one is not busy watching the many and various films on offer, they can just grab a gelatto and fix their gaze on the many passers-by. From the cinephiles, to the hard-working critics, to the down-right star-struck lining the red carpet every night, the cinema is just as much outside of the screening rooms as it is in.
by Robin Campillo // France
In a lost part of the interview I had the chance to do with him, Robin Campillo talked about Jaques Derida`s concept of hostipitalitĂŠ. Hospitality and hostility are the elements of the relationship between the French protagonist and the boys from the east that invade his home. One other thing from the interview that stuck with me, was the director`s love declaration towards Gare du Nord in Paris, a declaration that is all too obvious in the almost sensual shots of different places and characters in the train station, that comprise the long sequence opening of the film. Putting aside all the details of the story, Eastern Boys could be described as a film about places. The film has three major settings and all of these locations are very important in the structure of the film. Robin Campillo masterfully generates conflict and tension between the characters by breaking the rules specific to each space. The way he breaks the rules is by putting characters in places where they don`t belong. First, we see the characters on neutral ground, the Paris railway station, famous among other things as a landmark for male prostitution coming from the East. The older Daniel sets his eyes on the much younger Marek as they arrange for a private meeting. In this
sequence the rules are the laws: Daniel breaks the law and, as we witness later in the film, the law can`t help him anymore. Then there is Daniel`s expensive apartment. The party is an excellent cinematic translation of the concept of hospitality: Daniel is both threatened but at the same time he`s enjoying this new found excitement in his life. The viewer gets an extensive tour of the house: the furniture, the electronics, the paintings and the photos. The materiality of this apartment and tells us a lot about the owner. The director uses spaces in order to construct the inner world of the character. Just one example will suffice: the shades that come down electronically every time he`s about to have sex. Thirdly, the space changes from one home to the other, and the illegal immigrants get to know how it feels to have an intruder violating their personal space. In this third and last location that makes up the film, there is only hostility. The characters move from one space to another, and we understand what makes this a good film. It uses a material world (one which the camera can show with great accuracy) to mirror the movements of the soul. Marek changes spaces as he transforms from a prostitute into something else. review by Andrei Č˜endrea // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 77
by Alessandro Rosetto // Italy
Piccola patria recontextualizes violence, betrayal, love, faith and dissimulation in a complex, although sometimes excessively electic discourse. Alessandro Rosettoâ€™s first fiction featurer shapes an expected spectrum of human relationships surprised in a small provincial town, that becomes a character in itself. Known as a documentary and anthrosophy-oriented director, his approach explores human interactions in a nonfiction way, while exploring improvisation and observation as a core-elements in the filmmaking process, one of the most valuable merits of the film. The â€œsmall hometownâ€? is an hermetic space with its own cinematic journey: at first a distant erotic playground, but as we are immersed into the story we discover the inner dimensions and the backgrounds of the ones involved. Although we follow multiple characters in a blend of interactions, aiming to leave the town one day, the plot focuses on uninhibited Louisa teasing her Albanian boyfriend, Bilal, while having an upredictable relationship with mysterious Renata. As the film tries to unravel the inflationary relationships of the charNisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 78 // review by Ioana Mischie
acters and the consequences of their actions, it becomes rather difficult to empathize or to identify a constant protagonist. The cinematic narrative has a rather amateur-inspired approach, interrupted almost in a Brecht-ian way by ensemble plans of the town heightened by classical music, that appear as a demiurgical discourse, contextualizing every individual story into an universal collective one. Everything is based on an yin-yang of contrasts: inhibition-openmindedness, innocence-sin, life-death, individual-community. Rossetto conceives his film almost as a Rubik cube, teasing the audience and offering possibilities of matches between the characters, their attitudes and progressive shifts. For this reason, it requires time and patience to be digested. Some audiences might consider it overwhelmingly incoherent, but others extremely provocative.
Fish and Cat
by Shahram Mokri // Iran
If a David Lynch influenced by Asian horror films would have directed Elephant instead of Gus van Sant, the result would probably have looked a lot like Iranian filmmaker Shahram Mokri’s second feature, Fish and Cat. Having as a starting point a true story about a restaurant that served human flesh for food, the action of Fish and Cat takes place in the winter, mostly by a lake where some students are organising a kite flying competition. Not far away from the lake there is a small hut, whose three inhabitants seem to be keeping a restaurant. One by one, the students start to disappear. Although just like in Elephant the camera follows at turns the characters and the same action is often shown several times and from different perspectives, there is one extremely important technical detail that distinguishes Mokri’s film from Gus van Sant’s work: Fish and Cat was shot in a single take. This implies that, in order for some of the scenes to be repeated, the actors had to quickly regain their position, wait for the camera’s return and then try to re-enact the scene as accurately as possible. An immense endeavour, meant to help the main theme of the film, time, to stand out. Fish and Cat laughs in the face of the widely spread opinion that using long takes is a more transparent technique of filming, one that goes hand in hand with realism. Proving that this assumption is not completely true is one of the main reasons why this film is very innovative.
The manipulation of time is taken even further. Voice-overs accompany some of the movie scenes and it can be suspected that the lines is, at times, come from the future, from a time beyond the ending of the action that the film shows. The film discourages the audience from trusting either time, nature or characters. As it develops, the spectator loses any certainty it might have regarding the linearity of time. Nature also seems to have been toyed with. The trees seem to be pulsating throughout the film, the sky can rapidly get darker and then become lighter again, although still of an oppressive shade of grey. It is hard to set apart the real characters from the unreal ones. A man who only exists in the imagination of a schizophrenic girl can be seen by the audience clearly as any other character. Threatening dissonant music often follows the images. At times we get brief glimpses of clues that point out to the death of yet another student. A foot standing out of a pile of leaves, plastic bags filled with blood and meat. None of the killings is actually shown on screen. There is no need for it; fear is being induced by plenty other means. Far more interesting than Ana Arabia and Balcony, two other films shot in one take presented in this year’s edition of the festival, Fish and Cat is very likely the most innovative film in the line-up and a shattering, unsettling cinematic experience altogether. review by Ioana Florescu // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 79
FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE CINE DE
SAN SEBASTIÁN You would struggle to find a better setting for a festival then The Basque country in the late summer. There is a magnetic and mysterious attraction to San Sebastian which is not so easily put into words. It is present everywhere, in every street corner or in any of its extraordinary film theatres. Nowhere else this year we found a local population so knowledgeable and aware of an event that truly reshapes its surroundings. Regardless of the difficult period for the local Spanish film industry the festival managed to put on a great
show, showing there is still much vigour and life running through the region. Perhaps most importantly the event provides a unique and complete window to the best Latin cinema, compiling the best works from Spanish and Latin American filmmakers. This year Nisimazine “invaded” the Spanish coast for the first time only to find out this is much more than an obligatory stop for any film fanatic: simply a must.
Mother of George
by Andrew Dosunmu // USA
There’s this crucial aspect that filmmakers tend to leave aside in their cinematographic perspective: film as a visual language. Andrew Dosunmu, on the other hand, has it clearly present in his creative process and Mother of George, his anglo-nigerian’s second feature film, proves it undoubtedly.
realities. Both characters are eminently well performed, and their pursuit for pregnancy is incredibly felt and shared with the audience. Overall, the acting in Mother of George is in level with its direction, cinematography and score, making it a balanced melodramatic narrative.
An unforgettable cultural experience, full of poetic power, intensity, and resonantly enliven cinematography, displays ethical and moral concerns in a way that the audience will, beyond doubt, encase emotionally. The dazzling opening scene of the film, a wedding ceremony, immerses the viewer on what the film is embracing.
Clearly influenced by his years as a fashion assistant in Yves Saint Laurent, Dosunmu created a work where grace and fiction merge into something astounding. Having experienced the New York immigration firsthand, he transmits a sense of genuineness and emotional proximity not easily found. Visually rare, the jawdropping work of Bradford Young, who won the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, deserves to be considered as one of the major strengths of Mother of George.
This mesmerizing introduction emphasizes how the artistry is fundamental in the progression of its plot. Adenike Balogun is a very passionate and devoted wife that has Ayodele Balogun, a restaurant owner, as her only care and concern in life. At the closure of their marriage ceremony, Ayodele’s caustic mother names their yet-to-be-conceived child as George. Hardly dealing with it, and as brutal as it can be, Adenike still hasn’t given birth after 18 months. This situation forms a shocking brawl over cultural principles, which permanently questions the viewer about fragile
Understandably, the slow-paced tempo may look like it’s suffocating the story, but as it develops we realize that its objective is to encircle the audience in the film’s essence, which is achieved with distinction. With its vibrantly colourful shapes and patterns, this cultural specific narrative is a window to worldwide religious and tradition issues, resulting in an outstanding piece of human culture portrayal. review by Bernardo Lopes // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 81
by Ignas Jonynas // Lituania, Letonia
Vicentas loves gambling. Whether at dog races or with its colleagues at work, every moment is an opportunity for him to bet. Tired of making pointless bets as a way to surpass the debts he has with a bookie, he decides to create his own illegal game. As a paramedic he sees the chance to bet on the patients’ lives.
When we finally go back to Vicentas the plot thickens into rushed, predictable conclusions; ruining for good the films rhythm. If up to this point we were still engaged with the smooth change of the movie’s tone, we soon realize it was nothing but a huge misco ception.
Whoever plays a wager on the right way one dies, wins. While the game spreads like wildfire, Vicentas becomes fond of Leva, a co league that doesn’t approve the biddings. Hiding his involvment in it, sooner or later he will have to confront himself with the morality of his actions.
Constantly shifting from genre to genre, we get lost between the thriller and the drama, instead of roaming harmonically among them. Disconnected from sequence to sequence not even the music from The Bus can make the films core more coherent. With harsh and sharp beats, the reverberant and synthesized sounds manage to scrutinize ad infinitum the scenes momentums. Even with interesting editing decisions here and there the connection with the music is completely wasted due to its misplacing. Although with a superb narrative starting point, The Gambler leaves the audience wishing for a more risky outcome. While working around morality, the film lacks any comment on the morality of the acts.
Beginning and ending with two masterfully crafted shots, the film is full of these extraordinary moments. Yet most of them are not coherent with the narrative and appear to be nothing but an e ercise of style. Leaving the viewer with a confused feeling, the narrative materializes in an exaggerated segmented structure. Constantly losing the focus on Vicentas, we end up roaming around Ieva for several times. It is not that her problematic life isn’t interesting; it’s just that whatever motivates her and whatever she’s feeling is neither present nor clear for the audience. Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 82 // review by Vasco Esteves
Our attention is rapidly diverted to more technical aspects such as its magnificent imagery, but leaving the most challenging viewers with empty hands. In a broader sense, we risk to say that The Gambler did, in fact, gamble too much.
by Mahmut Fazil Cosckun // Turkey
Google maps tells me going from Istanbul to Yozgat (a city of about 650.000 people in central Anatolia) is a 7.5 hours ride. This is the trip that, after a short introduction, opens the second feature of Mahmut Fazil Cosckun, thus setting a weird artistic couple in motion. Yet their pace is rather slow, almost unwilling. Somehow involuntarily, the two of them start a new life in this provincial city with remarkably different hopes. Yavuz is a middle- aged unpopular singer, who has just been fired from the shopping centre in Istanbul were he used to sing without much audience and, presumably swallowing some kind of family break, only longs for rest and oblivion. Nese, a woman in her thirties, pleas him for a job in his new destination: wherever Yozgat lies, whatever there might be for her. She seems to be looking for economical stability, or maybe even to climb the social ladder. One way or another, she ends up doing the choirs along Yavuz’s voice and they keep rehearsing one night after the other in a small music hall-bar with few clients, letting life just pass them by. Ercan Kesal’s lethargic acting, as Yavuz, is worth being mentioned and was recognized with the Best Actor award in the Istanbul International Film Festival. Though the film masterfully achieves to transmit an overall mood of low-spirited and miserable feelings words that one
would clearly link to the blues music style, of course–, it lacks a bit of an attracting factor as well, for too many of the questions the viewer may have about the characters never happen to be answered and hence appear to have been posed in vain. However, if patient enough, between one chai tea and another, hidden behind long silences and ordinary monosyllabic dialogues, time comes for a few exquisite humour jewels. These go along with the appearance of two other characters: a passionate barber in state of dormancy (perhaps instantly polluted by Yavuz and Nese’s insipidness) and an eccentric poet who arrives and leaves for good with the same abruptness. Nicely shot, chromatically coherent with the tone and excellently performed by the cast, Yozgat Blues makes clear that some things are wrong in this small Turkish universe that it portrays, but fails to transmit what would be better. The same part of a song replayed until it is insufferable (or even funny), a singer who whispers but never sings, a marriage bond merely because she has no other plan. The Blues oppresses Yozgat and its people, it leaves them cold, carelessly facing joys and grieves, and compulsorily crestfallen. Even so, it beautifully envelops this very singular idiosyncrasy. review by Júlia de Balle // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 83
HAMBURG Germany seems to be turning a page after years of near cinematic oblivion. With a new generation of fearless filmmakers that in 2013 achieved much success by making some of the most talked about productions of the year, the never ending Berlinale program seems to be scarce to gather everything being made in the country. No problem, there is another gigantic event in the country more than willing to take on whatever Germany´s brightest eyes and minds can create: the Hamburg Film Fest. With one of the most
clever and daring film programs of the year, Hamburg managed to find the right balance between art-house experimentation and more easily formats, with a particular emphasis on new German cinema. The success of this year´s edition was undeniable and as two of our reporters found out, there is a buzzing atmosphere and much energy to keep on showcasing Germany´s young talent.
82 Days in April
by Bart Van Den Bempt // Belgium
Calling Bart Van Den Bempt a late bloomer would be an understatement. After graduating from film school the Belgian director took almost 20 years to finish his first feature film, 82 Days in April. After a time span that lets Terrence Malick go green with envy, it comes only as a mild surprise that Van Den Bempt went for big existential topics and cinematic greatness supported by cinemascope-pictures which stress the word deep as opposed to focus. The writer/director found a captivating starting point for the screenplay which accompanies Marie and Herman, an elderly Belgian couple who travel to Istanbul to fetch the luggage of their deceased son.
makes the absence of an important person in the life of the protagonists almost touchable in a materialist sense. Point of View-Shots convey subjective feelings instead of plot information; the rhythm of Van Den Bempt screams “Loss” and the feeling transports so well that he easily could have left out the intense score that somehow ruins the calm pictures. Cinemascope is really used at its best here. The film fills the empty spaces the large screen offers with thoughts, memories and feelings without showing them or even verbalizing them. The only question remaining is why the camera shakes throughout the whole picture.
After finding a notebook with receipts and a travel journal the father desperately wants to follow the last traces his son. After the haunting and deeply touching opening the film never quite gets rid of the mourning-couple-road-movie genre-clichés. The father remains an interesting and erratic figure whereas the mother is just part of a screenplay written by a psychologist.
He tries for a Nuri Bilge Ceylan like relationship between Turkey and the characters with quiet pictures, an observation of a mourning couple filmed in a realist, a screenplay that holds everything together and works on a psychological level, and on top of all some metaphorical allusions that bring back the image of the son. It is a little bit sad that the film does not trust its strength and poetry and therefore drowns in its own ambition. However, the sensitivity and honesty of 82 Days in April make it a promising first feature.
Nevertheless the cinematography is stunning. It is all about shadows, silhouettes and characters walking out of focus. The film
review by Patrick Holzapfel // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 85
by Louise Archambaulto // Canada
After Familia , director Louise Archambault now presents her second feature film Gabrielle at Filmfest Hamburg. This time Arachmabault tells the story of a young woman who is mentally handicapped because of a congenital developmental disorder. But even though Gabrielle might be a slow thinker sometimes, she is a brilliant musician. Her choir is soon to perform at a rather big music festival and everyone is getting really excited. During rehearsals Gabrielle gets to know Martin. They become friends and fall in love with each other. But Martin’s mother doesn’t like the idea of her son having a sexual relationship and therefore takes him out of the choir. Having no say in these matters, the lovers are separated and suffer separately from severe lovesickness. For Gabrielle things get even worse when her sister Sophie decides to leave the country in order to live with her boyfriend. Convinced that this will enable her to have the relationship she desires, Gabrielle tries to prove her independence at any price.
and which is not. In the end the movie makes you realizes that this distinction is superfluous anyways.
Main actress Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, who actually has a development disorder, does an amazing acting job. Being extremely pure and very strong, her on-screen emotions move the audience in states of joy and desperation. Theater actor Alexandre Landry, who plays Martin, is just as stunning. Without knowing from any external source one could never tell which of the actors actually is a handicapped person
Unfortunately Louise Archambault chooses a very simple ending for a complex story. All the questions about Gabrielle’s independence and her right to have a sexual relationship are boiled down to a cute love story. As a result, Gabrielle is very pretty to watch but it fails to challenge the audience to form an opinion.
Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 86 // review by Sophie Charlotte Rieger
Music and sound are recurring themes in the movie, not only in terms of content but also in terms of style. Louise Archambault uses environmental sounds to take the audience into the mind of the protagonists. Sometimes she intensifies noises, sometimes she takes them all away and presents a scene in absolute silence. Interestingly the silent scenes show moments of agitation, which usually are accompanied by dramatic music. The absence of acoustic stimuli has two effects : It takes our breath away and makes us feel – exactly like the protagonist – agitated and it also forces us to concentrate on the image instead of the sound. Archambault manages to control her viewers’ perception and directs it in such a way that they are able to understand the heroine’s experience.
Oh Yeah, She Performs! by Mirjam Unger // Austria Feminism on stage? Oh Yeah, says Austrian director Mirjam Unger who presents her second documentary feature at Filmfest Hamburg. In Oh Yeah, She Performs! Unger portraits four female musicians who are very aware of the feminist implications of their job as front-women. Fortunately Unger’s main aim is not to attack sexism in the music industry, even though it is a recurrent topic, but to introduce her protagonists, their music and their concepts of femininity. What concerns them on and off stage? How do they describe themselves and how do they define femininity? It is surprising that some of the frontwomen define the stage as a male space which they are conquering in their performances. Modern technology has a key function within that process because it allows artists to work independently from the male dominated music industry. The film points us to a lot of clichés of the music industry that we ourselves do not notice anymore because they seem so “normal”. For example, you can find quite a lot of female headed bands with male musicians but not the other way around. Certain instruments, especially drums, still seem to be reserved for men. The singers that Mirjam Unger’s documentary focuses on are all unconventional in their own way and so is their music. They are not mainstream
and they don’t want to be, even though they sometimes dream of the economic security that comes with success. It’s only logical in this context that Mirjam Unger doesn’t do a traditional documentary, filming interviews and stage performances as “real” as possible. Instead she makes use of inter titles still frames and tilted camera angles to capture the concerts of the four singers. In contrast to the style, Mirjam Unger employs a somewhat classical dramaturgy, structuring her movie chronologically along the four seasons but failing to fill these “chapters” with stories. Even though they are some developments going on in the individual biographies of the artists, the movie lacks some kind of narrative that binds the different elements together. As a result, Oh Yeah, She Performs! unfortunately loses its pace midway. Even though it does have some weaknesses, it is an interesting as well as an important film because it introduces the audience not only to a new generation of female musicians but also to a feminist view of today’s popular culture. Mirjam Unger takes a positive and life-affirming stance, not emphasizing the evils of sexism but the strength and power of her female protagonists. The movie title says it all: Oh Yeah, She Performs! review by Sophie Charlote Rieger // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 87
FILM FESTIVAL The UKÂ´s top film festival has been impressing audiences for over 50 years with its eclectic selection showcasing some of the best films of the year. In such a busy city, with an intense and unforgiving cultural agenda, the festival has been growing progressively, being nowadays a focal point for new local and international talent. It is one of those exceptions to the rule, contradicting the idea that major festivals cannot take place in major cities.
The London Film Festival is unafraid to break boundaries and in 2013 compiled an extraordinary program. Nisimazine could not let the festival go unnoticed in its corner of the film neighbourhood and provided quite a comprehensive coverage of this yearÂ´s edition, one of its most daring to date.
Hide Your Smiling Faces
by Daniel Patrick Carbonne // UK
Set in a picturesque rural area of the American countryside, the film narrates two brothers’ coming of age through a discomforting and unconventional tale. In the quiet “boredom” of their summer activities the two boys are suddenly confronted with the death or suicide of one of their friends and the auto-catastrophic nature of another one. Their view of life, selves, relationships with each other and perception of reality will change for good.
Another really interesting point in this film is the male dominance in this close circle of young friends, where no girl is ever seen, as well as the semiotics of their perception of “manhood”: Physical strength which is often depicted with their fighting each other as well as their infatuation with gun possession (even though the gun is never used, its presence alone causes insurmountable levels of thrill and excitement to the boys) set the tone.
Through the distorted lens of vivid imagination, false beliefs, dependence on friends, loneliness, unexplained fears, idea of adulthood and “war” against grown ups which is often associated with adolescents and children, the film unfolds a personal story of complicated characters and their actions. Their ambiguous motives, emotional reactions, confused ideas and cynicism that make them unpredictable to each other and themselves, make this film actually a case study for the impact of a child’s death to his friend and close environment.
Borrowing elements from the American indie language, the film is trying to find its balance between that and its attempt to present a low-key, coming of age drama. The stunning cinematography and extraordinary performances of the children actors though, make this film a very interesting and personal cinematic journey to adulthood.
review by Eirini Nikoloupou // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 89
by Rob Brown // UK
I am not good with words but I want to try”. Jumah has just moved to London but instead of encouraging he tackles the demands of his people for communication. And he chooses a nonverbal language to do that. His body seems to react to his adoptive mother’s, girlfriend’s and teacher’s attempts to exchange ideas and emotions in order to establish some kind of a relationship. Having been recruited as a boy soldier by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) in Congo, Jumah’s memories from his native country can only find place in a nightmare. The environment he grew up was one of the cruelest militant movements in history. They recruited children and trained them to perform all kinds of atrocities in various African countries, including Congo. Children soldiers actively participated in murders, mutilations, rapes, genocides. And while Jumah is desperately trying to prove that “once a soldier” doesn’t necessarily mean “always a soldier”, he has to adapt to a different dimension of an ongoing war. The brave new world of a modern urban environment, which demands too much of him: His feelings, his words, his commitment, the sweetness of his sixteen years. He responds by trying to “put out the fire with gasoline” by becoming isolated within himself. This will cause a series of events that will trigger an explosion. Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 90 // review by Erini Nikopoulou
A violent incident witnessed by Jumah and his best friend becomes the catalyst of a change which gradually unleashes a built up aggression and his decision on whether to succumb to it or not will determine the life he is going to have in the future. Roger Jean Nsengiyumva, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in real life, plays the tough, almost emotionless former soldier who is confronted with a tragic irony few days before his 16th birthday. All the violence and crime he has struggled to leave just in his childhood memories, is coming back to haunt him. London might seem like a safe, protected and lawful society but people still lose their lives for no reason at all. Jumah has to acknowledge that and decide how he carries it in his adult life. The director’s intention to create a world in his leading character’s image is a genuine effort but results in having everyone focused on their own personal mission and reduces the spontaneity and free will usually expected by teenagers. Between the latter a rather stylized than conventional relationship unfolds following a formulaic path which ends up showing snapshots and not the whole route of the characters’ development.
Ukraine is not a brothel This documentary that has dominated the international publicity game as much as its very theme presents us with an incisive deconstructing image of one of the most controversial activist groups of our time. With the human approach of FEMEN at its core, the film explores their personal take on the dynamics of Feminism, self-awareness, idealism, gender politics and failed state policies. Intending to present as clear and complete an image of the “femen” behind the FEMEN as possible, the film’s focus on these women’s personal stories and confessions is actually the strongest feminist element in it. Through a tight combination of personal interviews and original footage of the group’s protests, the film intrigues us into the story of the so-called feminist group from its formation in 2008 until today Green’s low-key, clever and respectable depiction of this tragic event uncompromisingly saves spectators’ shock for another crucial fact, which is revealed towards the end, maintaining an essentially mysterious and secretive aura. Narrations and interviews are more and more interrupted by fierce skype calls or footage material depicting Viktor, the man behind the FEMEN mask, whose controlling behavior over the girls reveals the greatest controversy within this group: That the male dominant-patriarchal model they are fighting against is ironically deep in the core of the group.
by Kitty Green // UK
Introducing himself as the “father of neo-feminism”, from which he earns a living, Viktor appears to be the person who designs the form and ideological basis of all protests, ordering the girls what to do and how to do it as “they don’t have a strong character and lack many things needed to become political activists. We have to teach them those skills” he confesses on camera. Weather he achieved this goal or not, we are not to find out through this film. However the fact that those girls have to be of a specific appearance and body shape to become part of FEMEN proves that at least one of his goals has been implemented. Or maybe more than one as the activists remain trapped in this relationship they describe as “Stockholm Syndrome”. The film strips its cinematic approach to the bare minimum allowing the stories to drive the narrative in a powerful way. Its realistic feel and personal encounters attribute an essential intimate value so as to resemble to personal confessions which show the level of trust developed between the girls and the filmmaker through the 14 months they spent together. The end is offered ideally open to the spectators’ view of the group’s nature, motives and future. review by Eirini Nikopoulou // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 91
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Lithuania may be light years away from the glamour of the French Riviera or the breathtaking views of the Venetian Lido, yet that seems to be no reason to shy down their ambition, making it an obligatory stop. Located in the Lithuanian student capital, the Kaunas Film Festival is a charming event that has been managing great coups throughout the years, collecting the greatest and most talked about films of the year and unveiling them in its timeless Romuva theatre.
This is an extraordinary achievement that has put Lithuania in the international film map with all merit. The event is also a privileged window to the creative local film scene in the Baltic, showcasing films from Estonia and Latvia like few others do. After a successful experience in 2012, where Nisimazine had the chance to organize a comprehensive film criticism workshop, our team of reporters was present once again discovering its many gems along the way.
In the Name Of by Margorzata Szumowska // Poland Some stories are good only if you are taken by surprise, the preknowledge takes away the pleasure of raising ones eyebrows. This film is exactly one of those cases – the best way to watch it is by coming with as little prejudice as possible – as such case are guaranteed the ‘Oh…!’ moment at the end. Let’s go to Poland, a summer time in a tiny village, the fly buzzing around in the room, the sound of dogs barking outside. There are boys playing football, wearing second-hand t-shirts marked with random phrases. They also drink beer and swear like devils – there isn’t much else to do. There is a grown up man too. After the game he puts his white collar back on – a priest, you see. He is the cool one, running around with his iPod. He even resists the charms of the local beauty. A man loved by his community. You can go and confess your sins round the corner – no formalities required. Father Adam, the protagonist, successfully manages the school for difficult teenagers. “Do the priests do that..?” boys wonder, but no one dares to ask. Father Adam regardless of his behaviour succeeds in being respected and approachable. At least until a new boy arrives. Suicide, humiliation, awful accusations and the main “thing” is still in the closet. This film is a beautiful demystification of priesthood, introducing the
man in the glory of his simple life. Frying potatoes, bathing, getting drunk and getting confused is also a part of being a priest. The intimate relationship with the character, created by both skilful cinematography and the plot, helps to emphasise his inner conflicts, but the most precious gift the viewer receives is spontaneous wilderness, stunningly performed in the fields of corn. Margorzata Szumowska, well known for directing Elles, in her sixth film will surprise you twice: once when you‘ll think it‘s the end, and finally by the upshot itself – only if you didn‘t watch the trailer before. The director, previously concerned with feminists themes, now proves her talent of being capable to reflect a masculine world view too. At first you feel sorry, then anger takes over, then you wonder why people are so narrow minded. Yet, when you think you know the answer, the actual answer knocks at the door, destroying everything you believed in before, possibly even leaving you a bit irritated with the film: so what? The final message will definitely trigger some afterthoughts. “There is a point in each of us, the great emptiness belonging to God. Our lives begin from this point” father Adam says, reminding that human nature is more common than dogmas. review by Vaiva Rykštaitė // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 93
by Cate Shortland // Germany
“Heil Hitler!” - a girl greets her fellow country man. She doesn‘t know yet that this gesture is now condemned for ever. Hitler is dead. The ending of WWII is shown from a perspective of a Nazi family. Lack of feeling guilt is not a way to escape - parents disappear in jail, leaving five little kids on their own. Their oldest teenage daughter, Lore, now has to take her four little siblings to her grandma in Hamburg. But the trains are no longer running and people are not keen to share their food. Trading family’s treasures for poor bites of bread, the children begin a dangerous 900 km long trip where they meet both frightened and cruel characters. One of them, a mysterious young Jew, Thomas, decides to follow the kids. When Lore meets Thomas she is flooded with ambiguous feelings: fear is mixed with lust, and lust is overtaken by shame, because all of her life the girl was taught to hate Jews. There are films that can be watched carelessly, simultaneously having a casual chat or doing some other activity. Lore is another kind – the exposure of separate frames is so powerful that the spectator has no other choice but to do his or her main job – watch. There is not much talking, and characters seem to speak in a language of hints. The scenes are very much impressionistic: a cigarette burning, a messed up bed, a piece found in a forest green – little details and Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 94 // review by Vaiva Rykstaite
intensively rich, organic frames become the main tools of the storytelling. The camera-eye often looks at the most intimate or repugnant parts. However, extremely enlarged images are used not to shock, but to create an immediate impression of intimacy instead. Two dirty hands shyly caressing each other – they tell it all. The film is erotically charged, intense and innocent at the same time. Its subtleness dictated by the protagonists – knowing they are still kids, there is no space for vulgar perspectives. On the contrary – the overall film is stunningly beautiful, sometimes even when it is supposed to be horrid, whereas music is one of the key elements creating the impression of a horror movie. Yet even the most awful events are shown through the eyes of children, who do not know and are not able to understand “why?” This uncertainty makes the movie to appear as a creepy fairy-tale too. Some things remain unclear – the relationships, motives, some “whys?” left to be answered. But here the most important is the story of an unconditional love for life - people want to keep it. Because the grass is still green and the children still want to play.
Sick Birds Die Easy
by Nicholas Fackler // USA
The first documentary of the American writer and film director Nicholas Fackler (known for his 2008 debut feature Lovely, Still) invites the viewer to an unusual journey, taking place in the so-called Eden, located in Africa. Here, deep in the wilderness grows this mythical psychotropic plant, called “iboga”. It can take a person on a psychotic trip, lasting up to three days. But, more importantly, it is believed to be a cure from any addiction. The filmmaker decides to find out if the myths are true and sets off with a party of people that no one would take on an adventure like this: paranoid drug dealer Ross, depressed poet Sam (tasked with creating the soundtrack), his girlfriend Emily and the camera group. As the party wanders in the thick tropical forest searching for the God in the shape of a plant, they get into the oddest situations. The further they go, the more questions arise. The viewer gets lost in the jungle with them, reconsidering the conception of God, consciousness and even reality. The filmmaker creates the illusion of hallucination invoking the cinematographic, rich colours and ornaments of the wild African nature in order to help the viewer to see the world through the eyes of the travellers. However, the true purpose of their journey
remains unknown. The travellers keep it a secret and, once they finally reach their destination, it is obvious that they will not give away the answers, at least not directly. This synthetic hallucinogenic fog, which surrounds everyone during the film, slowly forms the figures of the main characters. Their personalities are really vivid, which is quite uncommon for documentary films. The thought of “what is going to happen next” stays in mind as the viewer follows these drug addicts just like Alice followed the white rabbit into the Wonderland. The viewer becomes the witness of the rise and fall of those addicts, sick birds, wandering through the forest, so desperately trying to find the way to feel the freedom of the flight. The film itself reminds of a dream, from time to time interrupted by the live sounds of the Eden. Fluorescent colours and bizarre shapes revolve like a weird kaleidoscope and the conscious mind keeps asking if everything is real. But does that actually matter? It is hard to find the truth when it is so well hidden between the lines of their drunken talks, somewhere in between the reality and the myth. After all, everything is real just as long as we believe it is. review by Rūta Pužaitė // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 95
BLACK NIGHTS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Nights twice as long as day, cold, rain- or maybe even snow and frost. Doesn’t really sound like the most delightful of times. But in Estonia cinema seems to be the most effective treatment for the winter blues. Can’t blame them: the cinemas are warm, the event includes various sub-sections amounting to an offer that can cater to even the pickiest of tastes. But this is seldom the case for the locals- the screening rooms are often quite full, and they are lucky to
receive not only a selection of premieres, but also a number of films that have set themselves ahead of the pack in the year-long festival circuit. But PÖFF is more than a cultural event, also being an important hub for the film industry in Estonia and in the Baltic region in general. Every year the festival increases the impact of their industry events, thus making sure that more movies are produce, while also ‘bringing up’ the audience for them.
Above Dark Waters
by Peter Franzen // Finland
Although Aki Kaurismäki remains the reference point for Finnish cinema, there have been a handful of next generation filmmakers coming through, whose works bear comparison to their more famous Swedish and Norwegian counterparts. For example, Klaus Häro with his deeply moving dramas- Mother of Mine and Letters to Father Jaakob- and Jalmari Helander with the utterly ridiculous, and, in equal measures, viciously funny Rare Exports. Peter Franzen, a well known actor recognizable for roles in movies such as Aleksi Mäkela’s Bad Boys and Mika Kaurismäki’s Road North, now seeks to make his mark with a directorial debut.
ly remains warmhearted and shows much of the enviro ment in an idyllic way. Of course, this also makes the darker moments, the doubts and the fears, hit even harder, since through the eyes of a child they seem even more out of place. This is probably easy to connect with for most audiences. It’s a nice enough, if not unremarkable, premise which makes the film likeable pretty much on its own. But there’s not much else to catch the eye or fascinate the mind. Neither the camera work, not the storytelling nor the characters stand out - it’s all okay, but just okay is also too close to a little dull.
Above Dark Waters is based on Franzen’s own semi-autobiographical novel. It tells the story of a boy growing up in Northern- Finland. While mostly immersed in what can be called a typical childhood under the guidance of a loving mother and grandpa ents, he faces the increasingly violent behaviour of his paranoid father. While the opening shots of the picturesque Finnish nature already establish a likeable Nordic setting, the negative tende cies often associated with Finnish men creep in - alcoholism and depression never seem far away from everyday life.
The film is full of bright colours and sentimental scenes. It’s not very subtle. It’s not very original either. It probably doesn’t even mean to be, since it’s still a very human story easy to empathize with. The thing that bored me most is that it never establishes an identity of its own, often playing out as a long episode from a TVseries.
Although there’s quite a few serious topics involved, the film most-
This is even more frustrating in the context of a film festival where there are dozens of brilliant films around. A decent and easily relatable film, but far from exceptional. review by Andrei Liimet // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 96
by Frauke Finsterwalder // Germany
A solitary man who loves nature more than people; a quirky ped curist visiting an elderly lady; students marching in to tour a co centration camp; a police officer with his egocentrical girlfriend; and a rich Germany-hating German couple. They all have their eccentricities ranging from just plain weird to “batshit” crazy. And all their stories interconnect in this highly enjoyable ride through Finsterworld – a feature debut imagined, co-written and directed by Frauke Finsterwalder. A recluse picks up and carries a wounded raven back to his solitary shed where he gently splashes the bird with water. This gives an excuse to indicate the fuzzy warmness felt inside with an aww,almost immediately overwhelmed by a prolonged mmm as you reach the heights of esthetical pleasure thanks to the ci ematography of Markus Förderer. Lots of beautiful scenes that last long enough to be enjoyed: the alluring landscapes, the attractive close ups, the beautiful lighting and warm colours. And all of this accompanied by the equally ear pleasing soundtrack But before you get a chance to answer the puzzled looks of other viewers withan explanation for all the sounds of enjoyment, the film moves on to telling another strand of the story, introducing us to the Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 98 // review by Saulius Kovalskas
middle-aged wife (Corinna Harfouch, star of Downfall) and her overprotective husband. While the skilful editing connects the colourful array of stories well, leaving no time for any meaningless scenes, though some of them do feel a bit dragged out in the second half of the film. The pedicurist and a lonely client sharing cookies together are both hilarious and absurd. But the laughter fades and absurdity is replaced by sadness, as the young student verbally expresses the director’s criticism of modern Germany. The point is emphasized not only by the constant visual reminders of the old Germany, but also by the last two Finster-characters. The relationship between the policeman and his girlfriend shows us that it’s not the bats in the belfry, but utter lon liness and inability to communicate that drives them to their eccentricities. This is the Finsterworld where precisely crafted coincidence co nects its lonely inhabitants in an ambitious but very much needed wake-up call. In our days, when more and more people are left unsure how and where to look for love and acceptance, this film does make a strong point, shouting through every scene that even if it’s German, fury has claws and needs to be loved.
by Michael Noer // Denmark
You can really get a feel of Michael Noer’s background in doc mentary filmmaking, as he is not a rookie in catching and decomposing a real life situation without brushing it clean, although a lot of the compelling energy of his new film comes from the two non-profe sional actors, brothers in real life, Gustav and Oscar Dyekjaer Giese. Unsatisfied petty 18-year-old petty burglar, Caspar, from the infmous Northwest suburb of Copenhagen, upgrades to more serious crime, dragging his 17-year-old brother Andy alongside him. The more possibly nerve racking violence scenes happen off-camera, which makes this gangster drama fit even for the more squeamish viewers, but it’s not necessarily in support of the genre, that calls for a more healthy balance between the realistic portrait of violence as part of life and the suggestion of it. The focus is mostly on Caspar, a deadpan presence, but phot genic nonetheless, justifying the predominant close-ups that help build up the film’s silent tension and natural feel, capturing with the most professional acuity this unfolding social drama intertwining with complex aspects of coming- of-age.
Noer creates a healthy balance between Caspar’s family life and his work, just enough to stereotype him as the good guy that wants to look after his family and doesn’t really realize what he’s getting himself into, in contrast to his younger brother that seems more aware. This is definitely a downside for the story, because it doesn’t help raise it above a good execution of a genre, making it lack fleshiness- a line of coke now and then and some club dance scenes won’t necessarily make Caspar different than the other guy waiting in line for a hit. What does make a difference is Adam Nielsen’s electro-techno sharp editing and Kasper Janus Rasmussen carefully dozed sound design, also known for A Soap and Easy Money. In a very action-reaction thesis- like demonstration, the two most important moments are established by sound, a chocking stiffing gun shot. The final demonstration, that Noer was not so subtly building up to, really gives that special sense that was needed, treating the tragic fate of Caspar like the most harmonious, natural and balance-establishing action. And that is where the film’s power really lies. review by Andra Gheorghiu // Nisimazine Yearbook 2013 // 99
nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 15
Editor in Chief: Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) Assistant Editors: Mirona Nicola (Romania), Lucia Ros Serra (Spain) Location Managers: Merli Antsmaa (Estonia), Emilie Toomela (Estonia), Viviana Carlet (Italy), Luisa Riviere (Colombia) Image Editor: Liis Mehine (Estonia) Editorial Advisor: Matthieu Darras (France) Original design: Maartje Alders (Netherlands) Layout and photo edition: Lucía Ros Serra (Spain), Tatjana Vukelic (Serbia)
Writers: Aleksandar Radovanović (Croatia), Eirini Nikopoulou (Greece), Lilla Puskás (Hungary), Lydia Castellano (France), Martin Kudláč (Slovakia), Andrei Șendrea (Romania), Zowi Vermiere (The Netherlands), Mario Kozina (Croatia), Laura Van Zuylen (the Netherlands), Fabian Melchers (the Netherlands), Kris Derks (the Netherlands), Patrick Holzapfel (Germany), Sophie Charlotte Rieger (Germany), Filippo Spreafico (Germany/Italy), Cécile Tollu-Polonowski (Germany), Leila Hamour(France), Melanie de Groot van Embden (France), Piers McCarthy (UK), Robyn Davies (UK), Tom Cottey (UK), Yuri Lavecchia (Italy), Jorė Janavičiūtė (Lithuania), Nino Kovačić (Croatia), Ioana Florescu (Romania), Raluca Petre (Romania), Viviana Carlet (Italy), Amy Thompshon (UK), Diogo Figueira (Portugal), Vasco Esteves (Portugal), Bernardo Lopes (Portugal), Sara Martínez Ruíz (Spain), Ana Martínez (Spain), Júlia de Balle (Spain), Andra Gheorghiu (Romania), Andrei Kartashov (Russia), Andrei Liimets (Estonia), Matthias Van Hijfte (Belgium), Saulius Kovalskas (Lithuania), Ugne Česnavičiūtė (Lithuania), Vaiva Rykštaitė (Lithuania), Ewa Wildner (Poland), Fernando Vasquez (Portugal), Mirona Nicola (Romania), Lucia Ròs (Spain) and Jude Lister (UK)
Photographers and Videographers: Tina Remiz (Latvia), Elisabeth Renault-Geslin (France), Damien Rayuela (France), Valentina Calà (Italy), Marta Lučić (Croatia), Eftihia Stefanidi (UK / Greece), Anastasia Kovalchuk (Ukraine), Agnieszka Pokrywka (Poland) Very special thanks to: Viviana Carlet, Michaela Pnacekova, Wim Vanacker , Hannaleena Hauru, Severine Beaudot, Maartje Alders, Catherine Poueyto, Jorge Rodrigues, Guillaume Cage, Peter Van Hoof, Lisa Gribling, Lee Marshall, Dana Linssen, Ingunn Sjoen, Jay Weissberg, Mareen Gerisch, Melike Kuru, Elif Obdan, Dany de Seille, Christine Aimé, Jean-Charles Canu, Catherine Giraud, Ingrid Bihel, Yiline Zhao, Tereza Perinova, Vítězslav Chovanec, Domenico La Porta, Ana Stanic, Nikolas Samalekos, Alberto Barbera, Michela Lazzarin, Carlo Migotto, Elisa Bernardi, Matthieu Darras, José Luis Rebordinos, Gemma Beltrán, Bert Lesaffer, Jens Geiger, Caroline Schmidt-Gross, Tudor Giurgiu, Mihai Chirilov, Nuria Arauna, Lidia Castellano, Marina Queralto, Paula Pöll, Tiina Lokk, Javier Puerto, Maris Hellrand, Helmut Jänes, Heidi Koppel, Kuninga Apartments, NISI MASA Estonia, EESTI KULTUURKAPITAL and everyone who directly and indirectly helped and supported us throughout the year. In 2013 Nisimazine was present in the following festivals: Rotterdam International Film Festival Diagonale Film Festival Berlinale Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival Cartoon d´Or Cinelatino Fantasporto Transylvania Film Festival Istanbul Film Festival Cannes Film Festival Karlovy Vary Film Festival Venice Film Festival Sitges Film Festival Tribeca Film Festival San Sebastian Film Festival Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival
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