Režija: Orri Jónsson, Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir, Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir
Seven years of creating from her room
GRANDMA LO-FI is a sweet documentary about a seventy-year-old Sigrídur Níelsdóttir, who in her old age rediscovers music and happiness which its creation brings.
After seven years of creating from her room, this hearty grandma publishes 59 self-published music albums, for which she makes covers by herself, and soon attracts the attention of public art eye. Sincerity and naturalness, and boundless devotion and cheerfulness that characterize Sigrídur Níelsdóttir, seem to unburden the young artists, who gather around her, of potential vanity or ambition. Simple enjoyment of the music, the beauty of the song or even a clumsy verse, as opposed to the usual retirement routine which we recognize in actions like watching TV or monitoring the flow of people by the intercom, set Sigrídur Níelsdóttir on a pedestal of the art of living.
The film is unusually warm, covered with interesting stop-motion animations, photographs and memories from Sigrídur’s childhood and adolescence, beautiful and unpretentious lo-fi music and, just when you think that grandma had completed her creative tsunami, her new obsession - making collages – is born.
Needless to say that Sigrídur Níelsdóttir‘s collages achieve great success, and on her first solo exhibition all exhibits are sold in only seven minutes.
* * *
New Swedish Film
IZMEĐU DVE VATRE/ BETWEEN TWO FIRES
Režija: Agnieszka Lukasiak
SHOULD I SAY OR SHOULD I GO?
The so called refugee film – as any other thematic scope – offers different possibilities of creative achievement. Polish director and screenwriter Agnieszka Lukasiak (this is her first feature film) realized the story of a young Belarus woman Marta (Magdalena Popławska) who, in order to save her 10 year old daughter from her unscrupulous stepfather, who wants to use her for trafficking and prostitution, emigrates to Sweden, in a dramaturgically stretched way and directed it inconsistently. The film lasts for 130 minutes, but it could have been shorter by a third (the screenplay, though predictable, could have been a lot more useful. Marta’s “bond” with the attractive Algerian Ali (British actor Simon Kassianides, starred in THE QUANTUM OF SOLACE) is burdened with many and explicit sex scenes to the expense of their emotional relationship. Everything is fine, until Marta finds out that she won’t get a permission of residence.
Let’s just add that the acting is the better part of this too widespread film.
* * *
Parallels and Encounters
POSLEDNJE POGLAVLJE/ THE ASCENT
Režija: Nemanja Bečanović
IMPULSES AND BEATS
Ambiance like in the films VIRDŽINA or JOVANA LUKINA, rural surrounding, patriarchal environment, patriarchal view of the world... all of those things surpass the traditional limits in the Nemanja Bečanović’s film, and transcends into almost surreal. Displaced family and gender roles and distorted rules of emotional relations open up the questions of power, that is, the limitedness of the power roles which are chosen, and the ones which are imposed. A young man, a writer, brings his impulse and background into the context he got into. But, when the context changes, so do the rules. Desires get a new shape. Elements of the fictive, somewhere fantastic even, the sound of a typewriter, they all become permeated, and get a rhythm, they beat. In time, the actual contest changes the reality as well, but also the past of the one who came, and the life goes on the contours and margins of what is between: the real and the imaginary. The strange becomes a choice, the barriers are torn, new dimensions open up. And, a new community, a new ambiance and a new world. Or just an illusion.
* * *
ŽENA KOJA JE OBRISALA SUZE/ WOMAN WHO BRUSHED OFF HER TEARS
Macedonia / Germany / Slovenia / Belgium, 2012
Režija: Teona Strugar Mitevska
A WOMAN… BRUSHED OFF… TEARS
A film of two women, of loss, and the way to prolong life. A seemingly simple story, but actually very complex. After her first short film VETA, and feature films HOW I KILLED A SAINT and I AM FROM TITOV VELES, in this film Teona Mitevska raises the questions of humanity, life, suffering and hope; existential questions through a voice of a woman. Placing the emphasis on “the voices of women”, on a view that is different from the generally accepted: the patriarchal, the traditional, the male – brings in the personal and prioritizes it. The personal isn’t just personal, it is always political as well, and as the feminist approach, it is present on many levels. Even if it seems that the political dimension of the film isn’t primary, it is definitely relevant because it questions the decision on more levels than one. The decision to move on or to stay, to take a step or keep the eyes shut the decision to speak or hold the peace forever. The strength of this film is in all the questions it poses or only touches. Their universality surpasses the seemingly small, ordinary human stories. Every human story is big and unusual in its own way.
* * *
U MAGLI/ IN THE FOG/ V TUMANE
Germany / Netherlands / Belarus / Russia / Latvia, 2012
Režija: Sergei Loznitsa
A stark and slow-burning parable
The Ukrainian director and former documentary-maker Sergei Loznitsa scored a succès d'éstime with his first fiction feature MY JOY, which was in competition in Cannes two years ago. Now he has returned with a mysterious, compelling and grim story from the Nazi-Occupied Soviet Union in 1942, shrouded in the fog of war, the fog of fear and the fathomless fog of European history – comparable, perhaps, to Elem Klimov's 1985 film COME AND SEE.
It is a Second world war story about something with which few war movies concern themselves: the banal and poisonous disgrace of collaboration that the Nazis visited on every corner of the Reich. Here former Soviet commanders put themselves eagerly at the disposal of the Nazi invader, assuming administrative duties and enforcing the new order with the usual cruelty, and Russian police strut around wearing armbands reading: "In the service of the German armed forces." Meanwhile, the partisans hide out in the forest, waiting to hit back.
* * *
ISTANBULE, NE ZABORAVI ME/ UNUTMA BENI ISTANBUL/ DO NOT FORGET ME ISTANBUL
(VAN KONKURENCIJE/ OUT OF COMPETITION)
Turkey / 2011
Režija: Aida Begić, Eric Nazarian, Hany Abu-Assad, Josefina Markarian, Omar Shargawi, Stefan Arsenijević, Stergios Niziris
By midnight, and maybe even earlier, the Big Night will come
The dramatic rise of the Turkish Empire simultaneous with the financial regression of its neighboring countries has got another film marker. While the rest of the Balkans is conquested by the Turkish TV series and their films are in their golden age, the collection of short films DO NOT FORGET ME ISTANBUL can be also read as a cultural and advertising reminder of where the biggest (and, obviously, most beautiful) Balkan metropolis really is. And everything else that status implies.
Nevertheless, none of the six 15-minute stories has that propaganda character, especially the two stories coming from our region. Stefan Arsenijević, in MIRKO, tells through the character played by fascinating Mira Furlan the story how sometimes it seems that the Balkan history goes in circles, and the exit is, apparently, in going shopping. Although Aida Begić in OTHELLO deals with the frequently seen tests of the ''big art'' in front of ''small people'', she presented to us the talent of Alma Terzić, maybe the most convincing actress in this omnibus. HALF MOON STRANGERS by Stergios Niziris and BOLIS by Eric Nazarian are visually fascinating and stylistically consequent, but at certain moments they lack the motivation of their key characters. THE JEWISH GIRL by Omar Shargawi and ALMOST by Hany Abu-Assad talk about Istanbul like the modern age America – the place where every refugee from the Old World, wheter a Jew or a Palestinian, will find their piece of dream.
* * *
DES JEUNES GENS MÖDERNES/ THE KIDS OF TODAY
Režija: Jérôme de Missolz
THE KIDS OF TODAY
In this unusual rock documentary, which actually isn't a documentary, a group of young Parisienne hipsters discovers the texts of a long ago new wave/ electro/ post punk scene star Yves Adrien aka 69-X-69 and they start a journey through clubs all over the world (from Montreal and New York to Beijing), restlessly questioning the modern in today's postmodernism.
Adrien, a Warholian figure, inspires youth with his dundee philosophy to take a look at the artism and camp of the 80's, through his one liners expresses his anxiety for the range of contemporary involvement in networks of all sorts, but at the same time admits that the pop culture couldn't have gone in any other direction. „Brian Jones is modern. He started it first“, he makes a precise point, while the director Jérôme de Missolz – his junior by just a few years – hectically perfuses a crazy mix of retro 8mm shots and modern HD shots. Everything is here, from the 9/11 demolition of twin towers in New York, the dazzle of the communist miracle in Beijing, to semi-private underground clubs in Paris where the survived stars of the 80's hang around.
* * *
New Swedish Film
IZA PLAVOG NEBA/ HIMLEN ÄR OSKYLDIGT BLÅ/ BEHIND BLUE SKIES
Sweden, 2010, 112
Režija: Hannes Holm
The experienced Swedish director and screenwriter Hannes Holm, in this family-related, social and personal drama, tries to present a unique ego-trip of a young man named Martin (played by Bill Skarsgård, the son of the famous Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård), who is dissatisfied with the situation in his family (consisting of him, his arrogant father and weak mother) and thus finds a job in a yachting club owned by his friend's father. The manager of the club is a local playboy, a highly suspicious guy. In that rigmarole Martin deals with some strange business, connected with drugs and criminal, and avoids being imprisoned by a narrow margin. Eventually, he goes back to his girlfriend in a pathetic manner.
The film has too much ''tedious'' material. Holm lost his way a bit, by trying, with too much ambition, to connect more levels, and to give a satirical – though not coherent – view of the Swedish society of that time (the mid-70's). There is a lot of ''idling'' spread over the long 110 minutes. Nevertheless, the homage to the '70s is impressive (and to Boris Becker, who appears in the opening credits).
* * *
Paralele i sudari/ Parallels and Encounters
SAKUPLJAČ METAKA/ SOBIRATEL PUL/ BULLET COLLECTOR
Režija: Alexander Vartanov
WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES
Between mild melancholy and the world beyond reality, the atmosphere of this film converts from dreams to reality, from life to dreams. With an inner rhythm which speeds up at moments and then stops again, Alexander Vartanov manages to maintain the ambience of doubt about the choice of identity and about the mechanisms of repetitions and intersections which write down the coordinates we move along. The language of this film, at moments between the infantile and the anxious, leads us through the world of a young man who chooses to wander and not to belong. At moments, his nonalignment borders with distress. The psychological imperative, strengthened with the sociopolitical context, often does not give the choice: somewhere in between. The aspiration towards the one and unique, integrated, quivers above every wish, and every decision. Having monolithic identity has almost become a must. Thus every act of not agreeing to it represents revolt, somewhere even a universal form of resistance, in the sphere of the real and beyond all spheres.
* * *
NESTAJUĆI TALASI/ VANISHING WAVES
Lithuania / France, 2012
Režija: Kristina Buožytė
ALL COLOURS OF THE SOUL THROUGH THE TECHNO EXPERIMENT
Like the music of Wim Mertens, completely in tense repetitions, simple but strong, or like plays by Philip Glass, completely overflowing and turning into the strange, the atmosphere of this film goes out of almost all logical frames and goes into the surreal, unreal, different. The elements of fantasy introduce us into the world where anything is possible, where the usual and fixed rules are no longer valid, into the world of elusiveness. Colours become intensive and then disappear, pictures become blurred and then they diffuse and create some new forms; all of a sudden there are some smears, then lines, and then clear outlines – and then everything disappears. VANISHING WAVES is also a story about the connection between the mind and the body, it takes us from the Cartesian dualism (the idea that the mind and the body are completely separated and each functions for itself) to almost esoteric pictures of how indistinguishably the universe pervades the human soul. We have finally overcome Cartesian dualism, the universe is closer to us than we think. Only colours and quivering remain. And the music, elusive, beyond the real, fantastic. And stories about identity… everybody talks about that anyway.
* * *
Young Spirit of Europe
ATOMSKO DOBA/ ATOMIC AGE/ LE AGE ATOMIQUE
France, 2012, 67'
Režija: Héléna Klotz
ATOMIC AGE by a French director Helene Klotz was shown yesterday at 21:30 in the Young Spirit of Europe Programme. The film follows two young men who travel from the edge of a megalopolis looking for party and girls. Their friendship, which is instantly recognized as a deep, and at the same time, an alienating experience, is emphasised in scenes of lonely rides in city tram, while the “all seeing eye” of the big city oversees the lives of the mortals from the Eiffel tower.
After a tram ride followed by an “opiate preparation” for a crazy night, and a conversation characteristic of the “lost generation”, two hipsters from the suburb arrive to the club. However, their search for girls and fun won’t be successful. After failing to „pick up chicks“, fighting the city boys, exchanges like “If I was gay, I’d be a sailor and would never make shore” or “I feel empty, I don’t care about anything” or “I feel like a sinking ship”, the two friends return to the train that would take them out of the city.
Their long journey into the night will end in a forest, and in its darkness and silence will Victor and Rainer find a new depth and meaning to their friendship. Just like the film itself, which out from the unease of the city slowly sinks into the beautiful forest at night (kudos for the director of photography Helena Louvart), so do the feelings the two friends hide inside themselves slowly come out in the open in the freedom of the wilderness. As the title itself implies, the poetics of this film is post modernistic, and as such, it is sentenced to go back to its roots, that is, to the feeling devout of sinister sounds of the modern world.
* * *
New Swedish Film
Sweden / Finland, 2010
Režija: Babak Najafi
RENEGADE AT THE JUNK YARD
The film of Babak Najafi, a Swedish director of Iranian origin, was awarded as the best debutant work at Berlinale 2010, and its subject is adolescent social groundlessness syndrome. Sebastian is 15, rejected and bullied at school. He lives with his alcoholic mother in the suburb of Goteborg. He “feels at home” only at the nearby junk yard (he realizes his creativity there, redesigning the objects he finds). This metaphor of a junk yard is by no means arbitrary (Sebbe is a renegade at the junk yard); it enhances the feeling of detachment which keeps growing until it culminates with his mother throwing him out from their house. Everything pointed out to a “suicidal” finale, but the director skillfully maneuvered away from it.
The script is very simple, but that was the way it was supposed to be since the film was directed in a minimalist, so to speak, documentary manner. Najafi did a great job guiding the characters (not exactly impressively impersonated by their players, yet there is no need for brilliant performance in a film of such structure). Apart from Sebbe, the character of the mother is relevant too – even though she seemed cruel (especially verbally) – she still cared for her child.
* * *
Parallels and Encounters
Režija: Maja Miloš
THROUGH THE DOORS OF THE CLIP
Even though it is in focus of polemics whether it is on the edge of tolerance for the politically correct eye – or it slipped into the disgusting and overdosed, Maja Miloš's film actually raises the following question: where are the limits of our choices? How much influence the context itself has on our decisions, and to what extent we influence them? Shots and scenes filmed by a mobile phone deviate from the aesthetics of the “pure”, the suave, the bearable. They carry us to a world of the fast, the loud, the sweaty, into the space of the marginally allowed. An entire story of identity, an entire socio-political picture of the actual moment of the transitional reality is placed into the limited space of the display. Has the reality been moved or have we moved away from the reality? The intense atmosphere of this film, a constant and permanent suspense create an impression of the untempered. There is no refinement, no make up, no learned phrases and flosculations. Even though it sometimes seems that the director could have downgraded some of the scenes, to disintegrate the clutter, the door of the clip has opened, and it is upon us to see what’s on the other side or shut our eyes.
* * *
ČELIČNO NEBO/ IRON SKY
Finland / Germany / Australia, 2012
Režija: Timo Vuorensola
IRON SKY by Timo Vuorensola
''Sweetie, where do you get these crazy ideas?'' a tall obengruppenführer Klaus asks his attractive fiancée Renate after she insists that he should take her to the Earth with him. And her answer is: ''Mostly from books. And films, too''.
That is the key sentence of IRON SKY. Even when some dialogues are unconvincing, and the plots quite naive, Timo Vuorensola bribes the viewers with sentimental quotations from the classics like THE GREAT DICTATOR, JAWS, STAR WARS, CROCODILE DUNDEE or THX 1138. Which film lover would not widely smile when he sees the Führer Kortzfleisch in 2018 on the dark side of the moon waving his stiff arm like the frenzied dictator, doctor Strangelove, in Kubrick’s paranoia of the same name; or the invasion of the Nazi spaceships on the Earth accompanied by Wagner’s Valkyrie which is the same as the napalm surf in Coppola’s APOCALYPSE; or their night landing in the hills above some American metropolis in the same way as e.t.’s spaceship in Spielberg’s moving blockbuster from 1982?
Even during the preparations, IRON SKY was offered to social networks: so that numerous users could invest in it, and later get the profit, and they could also create the contents of the film. Thus it is no wonder that there are so many geek references: obviously everyone wanted to build in part of their personal mythology, and the director did not have the ambition to leave stronger personal marks.
* * *
Parallels and Encounters
ADALBEROV SAN/ VISUL LUI ADALBERT/ ADALBERT’S DREAM
Režija: Gabriel Achim
A SLICE OF THE BITTER WITH A SMILE
It seems difficult, almost impossible, to deal with Romania during the reign of Ceausescu, to play with the ideas of prohibition, surveillance, punishment – after Hertha Müller has done that in her books. The closed, unventilated, suffocating atmosphere in this writer's texts introduces the Romania of the second half of the 20 century into our kitchens and rooms. And it leaves a bitter taste in our mouths and brings a big lump to our throats. Nevertheless, Gabriel Achim also offers to us, with his film, a slice of the life from the last episode of the 1980s Romania, but in a twisted and humorous way. His way may be different from what we expect, at moments completely relaxed, but definitely incorporated into the layered topic which he deals with and which can, but does not necessarily have to, be connected with its own context. Humour as a choice, as a decision, is a good point in the methodological sense, because it is acceptable and, so to say, in a light manner affects various levels of interpretation. This interesting film encourages new and different reexaminations of topics and phenomena. With a laughter or without it.
Czech Republic / Germany, 2011
Režija: Tomás Lunák
WHERE IS THIS TRAIN GOING TO, WHERE IS IT TAKING THE PEOPLE
ALOIS NEBEL might remind of certain achievements of domestic cinema, films situated in rural parts of former Yugoslavia, where the only sign of life flowing is – a railway. In these films the train is in the background, sometimes it makes an appearance, sometimes not, but on a symbolic level, rails signify the fact that from one point to the other – it is possible to reach. Surreal dimension of the film ALOIS NEBEL, is all in the hallucinations, fears. Psychology of the ambient, twinkling of the rail-men, images and memories that make nonsensical rational imperative of everyday life, are a universal story of human weakness, of conquest, persecution, suffering. Whether it is an issue of a small village on the border with Poland, or some other village on some other border, in each case, images and scenarios repeat themselves, the stories repeat themselves. This film touches us in a convincing way in the places where we are most vulnerable, in the borderline areas, in the questions of our roles and our responsibilities: as witnesses, perpetrators or silent observers. And the trains are inevitably delayed.
* * *
New Swedish Film
MIS KIKI/ MISS KICKI
Sweden / Taiwan, 2009
Režija: Håkon Liu
ZBOG NOĆI/ BECAUSE THE NIGHT
Režija: Alexandra Dahlström
TRAVELLING AS A DESTINY
This film which had noticeable attention and received awards in Sweden (but not only there), successfully tells the tale of a middle aged woman with an interesting past Kicki (played by Pernilla August, a Swedish actress with an international reputation), who “treats” her 17 year old son with a trip to Taiwan for his birthday. But, in the background, it can be anticipated that she actually wants to see her online friend from nearby Taipei, Cheng (played by a famous Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang). Their meeting doesn’t go all that well, but a drama begins to stir up with Kicki’s son, Viktor, who starts to get close to a Taiwanese boy his age.
A subtle friendship develops between them, on the very edge of homosexuality, but it doesn’t go all the way. Despite significant difficulties, Kicki manages to establish a good relationship with her son, so that the journey (which will decide on the future destiny of the family) “paid off”.
Hakon Liu’s directing process demands a viewer prone to perception of the alluded, who will not have a problem with understanding the implied in the story. The correlation between directing, screenplay, editing and excellent photography gives the film extremely positive references.
On Monday was also screened a ten-minute-long Alexandra Dahlström’s film BECAUSE THE NIGHT. The fact that the director succeeded to integrate several destinies, torn apart by lights and loud music and disintegrated by summer morning sunlight, fascinates.
* * *
AND THE NIGHT STILL LASTS
In an unpretentious, but clear and unambiguous way, this film reexamines possibilities and borderlines of the innocent, at the transition from childhood to sudden adulthood. Like on a video tape, with fast forwarding we suddenly come to the world of unexpected but wanted. Thanks to the interesting film expression of the director Olmo Omerzu, these two intertwining worlds have actually never been separated at all. Although very simple, sometimes even common, the atmosphere of this film at one moment becomes surprising, but then again, almost imperceptibly the surprise element turns into the everyday life. Situations on the borderline, spaces moved out of the regular course of events, soberness and dazedness intertwined, they all profoundly move the apparent harmony and logical order we have and believe in. Numerous small worlds arise and die every day, and, together with them, our attempts as well, the small ones and a bit bigger ones. And we can never be sure what the day or the night brings. And how much the latter will last.
* * *
IDIOT AS THE MINIMUM OF HUMANITY
Those who have not read ''The Idiot'' by Dostoevsky should not only watch this Estonian film – they should watch the film and read the book as well. What makes this film stand out above the category of decent and average are the complexity of the topic, the approach to the selection of the material to make up the perfect Idiot, the selection of elements which will turn his surrounding into the ambience of constant and permanent curiosity about the indistinguishable confusion of human life. Dostoevsky achieved the clear and profound reexamination of numerous questions about the Man's character by using his impeccable literary style. The director Rainer Sarnet achieves the same with small visual details. He manages to translate the whole story into a simple and subtle language of contemporariness, by constantly led dialogue ''with'' and ''at'' more levels. In the time of the triumph of deeply conservative identity politics, this kind of a film talks about the common denominator – both in the past and present – the Idiot and the vulnerability as the minimum of humanity: that is what connects us and what surpasses all the essentialities we are immersed in.
* * *
Serbia/ Slovenia/ Croatia/ Montenegro/ Republic of Macedonia, 2011
Challenge to Balkan homophobia
Director: Srdjan Dragojevic
A rude and raunchy challenge to Balkan homophobia, THE PARADE may be the most un-PC of films around, but it smartly celebrates those very un-PC qualities as it turns transgression into comedy, detailing the very real battlefield between machismo and gay pride.
Written and directed by Srdjan Dragojevic, THE PARADE has proved to be a surprise success in the Balkans, and Serbia in particular where it has achieved more than 500,000 admissions. And this in a country where 5,000 police had to guard the 1,000 people who made up the 2010 Pride march. The film may intrigue buyers aware of its comedy success, though whether gay and lesbian festivals will embrace it remains to be seen
It is broad comedy fare that revels in its stereotyping and takes no prisoners with its deliberately scattershot approach. Dragojevic directs with a good deal of intelligence, and is very much aware that his unsubtle characters offer an entertaining look at the culture clash between brutal Balkan machismo and a gay community that suffers violent attacks with little support or assistance from the authorities.
Screen Daily / Screen International
* * *
THE NEW SWEDISH FILM
Director: Axel Petersen
The layered familyThe debut work by Axel Petersen, presented successfully at Toronto and Berlin festivals, is a unique mood thriller. AVALON develops a story about Janne (60), a man who came out of a prison and who, together with his mate Klas, opens the night club ''Avalon'' in the Swedish summer resort Bastad, just before a two-week tennis tournament. Unintentional murder that Janne committed initializes the character study of his personality. At first sight, Janne is unscrupulous (he keeps the crime secret and does not feel the empathy towards the victim), but, led by Petersen's excellent narration, he nonetheless induces positive reactions of the viewers as a man who has kept the image of a ''mischievous boy'' despite his corrupt life and lack of moral principles. (Un)expected redemption occurs in the final sequence when Janne, in a grotesque manner, becomes aware of his bleak life.
Filmed under natural light, without any music (except the one that is heard form a car radio, as well as the extraordinary scene of homage to the group ''Roxy Music''), AVALON, with its layered structure, worthily presents the modern Swedish cinema.
And in LAS PALMAS by Johannes Nyholm, a puppet film lasting for only 14 minutes, a one-year-old girl excels playing a middle-aged lady determined to have a good time. The scene worth remembering is the one in which the baby ''trashes'' the bar.