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lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

01 November, 2010

27 Times Cinema at the European Parliament

Last Wednesday, myself and Thomas from the 27 were taken to Brussels to sit in on a public hearing on Cinema and European Identities. The guest of honour was Wim Wenders, who gave a presentation on the importance of educating young people in cinema literacy.

Mr Wenders kicked things off in the palatial European Parliament buildings with a plea for a cinema-lierate population. He hoped that by raising future European generations to value their cinema as much they value television or games, then we may become more protective, and more nurturing of our our home-grown product. In short, creating more demand with a view to 'auteured' cinema ultimately taking the place of Hollywood output in our multiplexes.

He iterated the importance of digitalisation of cinema theatres in furthering a sense of 'Europeanness'. Films in foreign languages are now able to be screened in many different languages because with digital, our subtitles exist as meta-data, erasing the old problem of having to physically move prints around the continent. Wim said that pre-digital, if 10 prints of his film were made, 5 would be subtitled and 5 would be without. Think of how much more difficult this makes print traffic from a distribution point of view. Compared to a secure ftp transfer to a cinema, the projectionist able to choose between 15 different languages, and then project in crystal-clear digital or even 3D!

Of course, technology - as with anything new - creates its own problems. The idea of brand new, pre-release date films whizzing through the airwaves must make intellectual property lawyers break out in a cold sweat. Piracy is a real threat, however WW appealed to the lawyers to allow more filmmakers tro quote each other more liberally, and to classify more film footage as 'copyleft', specifically culturally significant documentary films.

Ann Jackel, a visiting research fellow of the UWE, then gave a very valuable overview of the co-production industry across Europe. On the subject of co-productions, may I please give a quick plug for "The Hunter" by Rafi Pitts, a German-Iranian co-production on release through Artificial Eye right now.

Roman Gutek, a Polish distributor of European and US films, gave an interesting alternative vision of the future of European film. He saw Europe as having to break down its culture of elitism and embrace newer business models to increase income. He sees US imports as being important 'tentpoles' for European distributors, allowing us to be flexible enough to showcase our own world-renowned cinema.

Finally, one Giorgio Gosetti gave an impassioned plea to remember that film festivals as still the only place that many auteured films may be seen in their natural home, the big screen. A successful festival appearance is the catalyst for a filmmaker's career, just as much as a profit-making film. He asked us to not overestimate the importance of the red carpet at major festivals, and to always remember that they are foremost a place of discovery and passion.

07 October, 2010

Finally.....Machete

I've just seen Machete... it's already on the cinemas in Romania. And i 'm very happy to finally understand the jokes i heard throughout the festival related to the macho character of Dannny Trejo. So, even if i'm a month later, i feel a great excitement reproducing them: Machete doesn't text, Machete gets evidence and Machete doesn't text, Machete improvises! Unfortunately, i can't imitate the voice....
And...yes, you were right, i enjoyed it, it's a very amusing film from the point of view of the situation and the characters. It was extremely funny to see names such as Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal put in awkward situations, making fun of their previous macho 'invincible' roles, which made them popular and well-known.
The girls were stunning/very hot...that's what the boys said and i agree with them (especially Michelle Rodriguez). Their foxyness in combination with Machete/Danny Trejo and the other middle aged guys .. made the story even more hilarous!


P.S It's strange how i still feel the need to share some of my opinions with you...it became a 27 Times Cinema habit!

27 September, 2010

Cyprus International Film Festival

Dear all,

I just want to inform you about the Cyprus International Film festival which will take place in Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus from the 13th of October until the 18 th of October. The films that will be screened have been categorized in the following sectors: Golden Aphrodite 2010, Short Films 2010, Animations 2010, Antiquity, Panorama, CYIFF 2010 Premieres, Dance Films 2010,Nostimon Imar, Tribute to Polish Film as well as Sport films - Fair play. Please find attached the link of the Festival's web-site to acquire more information.

Regards from Cyprus,

Michalis

22 September, 2010

"Giornate Anniversari"


Audioviideo.

I will never forget the women reading instructions before the screenings. I have just been rolling things in my mind and thinking Lido.

My Italian did not improve, now it just consists of self-made english-french looking words. For instance, thanks to Conalls skills of creating words he almoust got Vytautas in to ”Sala Volpi” , because of Vytautas having his birthday and according to Conall, ”giornate is days or something likely” and well anniversari is quite obvious. Conall repeating with a slight american accent ”Giornate Anniversari”, pointing Vytautas and offering money (this happend before the music performance for the Parliament members) for the security guy . I think I will remember this quite a long time.

The other (or one of them) memorable moment happend due to hunger:

After waiting an hour to see ’La Comedia’, we left after ten minutes. The film didn´t have subtitles and it looked like pictures taken and shown in a disorganized way. Stuck for something to do we went for a gelato and to our surprise we met Michael Cera and some friend of his. We introduced ourselves and had a very interesting conversation with them. It was weird to accidentally run into some people with a bit higher social status than youself.

Trying to remember all the great people, films and events I thank every one of you!

As Thorben already said

Good Bye everyone!

P.s. Vytautas record with eight films per day is something to pick up, because I got tired after five!

14 September, 2010

Good Bye


So, that's us, the Happy Few, the 27. The Mostra left all of us slightly Scorched, almost as we've fallen into The Ditch. Now we are all scattered again, in Europe, Somewhere. The Last Movie I saw was the winner of the Golden Lion. Beyond that, I will always remember The Clink of Ice in our cups of Spritz, walking around the Lido, on The Road To Nowhere. The Black Ocean in the night made us Happy Poets, reflecting about how lucky we were, and what an honour it is to be in Venice. When we Leave, we go home to our countries, working with 13 Assassins, doing some Essential Killing, or maybe as a clown in Cirkus Columbia. Who knows. And of course, we want to meet each other again, but as nobody knows what life will expect us, these are all Promises Written in Water.


Venice was amazing. Thanks for this opportunity.

13 September, 2010

Akadimia Platonos and the Greek Nationalism


The core of the plot of Plato’s Academy is in fact the realization of Stavros, who is believed to be Greek, but it is found out that he is essentially Albanian after his mother acknowledges an Albanian man as her son. It is then revealed that this strange Albanian man is Stavros’ brother. A mysterious confusion inevitably occurs with regards to what the national identity of Stavros is. The film terrifically portrays the traditional long-term malicious Greco-Albanian relations that date back to 1991, after the fall of the Albanian communist regime whereby allegations of mistreatment by the Albanian authorities of the Greek ethnic minority in southern Albania and of the alleged Albanian minorities in northern Greece occurred. Albanian economic immigrants have penetrated the Greek state and their presence caused huge tension between the two parties. Therefore, Greeks have developed certain prejudices and biases against Albanians that is they consider them as evil, ugly, uncivilized and miasmatic entities which pollute their “civilized” and “cultured” social well being. As a result, Albanians by no means would be accepted to be integrated or tolerated within the Greek society, because these “savages” do not simply match with the Greek mentality of education and culture derived from the ancient Greek ideals (!). The Greek companions’ actions really reminded me of a typical Greek nationalistic quotation that dictates “Whoever is not Greek is Barbarian”. The companions’ objection to the idea of constructing a monument in the name of intercultural solidarity declares that in their “territory” (implying their quarter) no ‘foreign’ influence is possible to change their Greek habitual rituals and way of living (namely playing football and gathering around, drinking coffee, etc), hence tolerance, respect and compromise are bizarre words in their ordinary culture. In the meantime, at the moment of the football game between the Albanian and Greek National teams, we observed an intense social solidarity from the two sides, which separately gathered in a sort of a coffee shop to watch the match, using national symbols and passionately supporting their teams. Apparently, in such case football as a ritual, represents ethnic origins which are regarded emotionally, and this reality brings about collective consciousness which in turn binds people who share the same ideals and values. Stavros, as every compatriot of his, holds strong bonds with his Greek national identity and is not willing to accept the severe truth that he had to face up to because otherwise he would have lost his Greek companions who merely believe in the homogeneity of the Greek community, hence they wouldn’t easily accept an Albanian in their company. Nevertheless, the allegorical language and imagery used in the film (sheepdog called “Patriot”, Euro 2004 Greek National team photos posted on the wall, )signify the reality that was previously described. As Filippos Tsitos, the director and writer of the film said before its screening, the situations employed in the film are not be taken for granted that represent nowadays’ reality. However, Tsitos takes the issue of cultural absolutism, xenophobia and racial intolerance into a deeper level and through its problematic and complicated nature, the dramedy simply communicates a range of messages intended to those who suffer from cultural myopia and particularly ethnocentrism.

12 September, 2010

we’ll always have Venice


On the last day of the festival most of the “seven, twenty seven” left the queuing to others and went sightseeing. And at night in the villa we danced and didn’t dance, cried and didn’t cry, found and didn’t find love and said goodbye and didn't say goodbye.

11 September, 2010

Die Fremde – When we leave


Last morning, after voting for the winner of our special mention, we watched the movie When we leave for the Lux Prize competition, and I have to say that it was one of the best movies I saw in Venice Days. This is not a new theme, but is still common, and despite of being a long movie, Feo Aladag really managed to keep the audience focused on the story. I loved the main actors, specially the kid, they make the movie seem real. The movie was so dramatic but still so good! I had a knot on my throat almost all the time. In the end I thought the kid was going to shoot himself with the gun, and I felt so relieved when he droped it, but then the last scenes were so brutal that I couldn't avoid crying. “When we leave we always have to leave something behind”, but I'm pretty sure that no one will forget this movie.

Conall made my day


On the way home the other day Conall gave us an amazing performance as usual. Not satisfied with just applauds Conall took off his hat and started to beg for money from the surrounding people, trying to convince them that he actually is famous in Ireland. Conall never got any money but his reaction when realizing that he just begged the European Parliament members for money was indescribable!

Yesterday we met the members of the European Parliament again, although under more serious circumstances when discussing Europe and Cultural Identities. The moderator for this debate Nick James, editor of Sight and Sound, addressed interesting questions about cinema as a vehicle for transmigration, European transgression and the future of Europeans cinema in relation to the domination of American Cinema. I’m very interested in topics concerning cultural- and multicultural identities, partly because it’s something that I can relate to myself. One of the Lux Prize films, Plato's Academy by Filippos Tsitos, was talking about this subject in a humoristic way through the character Stavros who finds out that he is Albanian. Although he has spent most of his life in Greece, a conflict regarding whether he’s Albanian or Greek emerges, which is concerning both a personal conflict but also a conflict for his friends who openly show hatred for Albanians throughout the film.

As I wrote above this is something I can relate to myself; since coming to Venice several people told me that: “nooo, you’re not Swedish”, “you don’t look Swedish at all” or “where do you come from originally?”. Of course I can be Swedish! But what interests me about these comments is the question – what determines cultural identity today? Migration has created multicultural identities and lines are being blurred. For me it’s not important to define cultural identity but I believe that the blurred lines create a fear of “the new Europe” which creates a nationalistic political view.

I wish I would have more time to discuss this but now the Venice Days has come to an end, and I’m very grateful for being a part of the 27 Times Cinema! Being able to see as many movies as you can has been great and to discuss them with the rest of the 27 is fantastic. But before we leave I really hope we will see Conall perform the “Single ladies” choreography again.


I just wanted to tell you all - Im gonna miss you terribly, my lovely 27!!!! LOVE YOU xxx

My top five


I’m sad as The Bienalle is reaching the end. Everything is closing down and people are slowly leaving the Lido. The Giornate Degli Autori Villa is more or less empty and the atmosphere inside the Festival area seems dull. I guess everyone is exhausted after a long and busy festival.

Participating in the 27 Times Cinema initiative has really been a great experience and I’ve been enjoying every second of it. I will miss it all.

My top five favorite films of the festival (In no particular order):

Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín)

Essential Killing (Jerzy Skolimowski)

Silent Souls (Aleksei Fedorchenko)

Incendies (Denis Villeneuve)

Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)


Discussion 9: Europe and Cultural Identity


Juana Lahousse-Juárez – General director for Communication of the European Parliament – and Bertrand Peltier – responsible of LUX Prize – presented MEPs Doris Pach, Silvia Costa and Stavros Lambrinidis and the three film-makers contesting for the LUX Prize: Feo Aladag (When we leave), Oliver Masset-Depasse (Illegal) and Filippos Tsitos (Plato’s Academy). The debate on ‘Europe and Cultural Identities’, the latest and largest discussion within the framework of the 27 Times Cinema initiative, was moderated by British journalist Nick James. Giorgio Gosetti and Valerio Caruso, directors of Venice Days and Cineuropa.org respectively, were present too during this one-hour meeting, which ended with the young 27 European cinema lovers granting their Special Mention to Denis Villeneuve's feature Incendies.


















FRAGILE CINEMA


(PART 1)

I felt a sense of relief the moment i stepped outside the cinema hall - not only because i felt free of the pressure that the film itself caused me, but because, for my relief, i saw most of the 27 having the same look on their faces..And they left the screening with a slow pace like they didnt actually wanted to escape.
Umay’s – a young Turkish 25year old mother and wife – attemp to escape from the abusive family envirroment she is living in and start a new life begins an irreversable trip to violence, pain, anger and pure solitude for both sides.
A vicious circle of hatred and violence inside an uneducated society which foreigns its own children in the name of plastic morals. During the movie we watch Umay struugling with this unhealthy mechanish that has as a result her parent ‘s constant rejection,harsh restrictions and domestic violence.

Without slipping into the easy way of making a melodrama the direrctor Feo Aladag tells a strong story because as she said “only personal stories tell the actual truth”.

* * *

(PART 2 - Last thoughts)

A film is a journey to where your imagination imposes.It is a silent agreement between the film and the greedy audience that it is going be a pure orgasm of sences that tickles your soul and mind until the last cell of your body - until your fingertips. Otherwise it is not worth the lights it has been given.

Cinema is so fragile that you are not allowed to put any kind of boundaries .fragile as your soul is ,as your memories are ,as revolution is.So let it penetrate into your worst fears,into your fantasies ,let it shock you and provoke you in order to look clearer when you walk out of the dark screening room.

Can you even imagine what would happen if all the unconventional minds of the world put limits and forms in their creativity ,to all their reckless-at the time-operations and they did not confront the conservative other side? Even worse in our basic human -primitive sometimes- desire for freedom? What if Lars Von Trier had doubts about Dogma,what if Kinsey never talked about sex without taboos ,what If a pioneer as Martin Luther King would say: ”I have a dream… but I don’t really want to talk about (actually that one is stolen!)

So please leave behind you any restrictions and enter in such an experience as vulnerable you can be…

SCHEDULE, Saturday September 11th

11/09/2010

08:30
The LUX Prize: ILLÉGAL
Sala Volpi

10:30
The LUX Prize: AKADIMIA PLATONOS - PLATO‘S ACADEMY
Sala Volpi


Venice 67: Oh Venice Days, Oh Venice Days!


(apologies to Connall for the title of this post :) )

The Venice Film Festival is slowly, slowly drawing to a close and I'm sitting at my laptop trying to come up with an adequate way to describe this experience. It's been eleven days of non-stop running from one screening to another, of searching for our next caffeine fix in the hope that it will keep us awake for the next screening, of exchanging ideas with peers and professionals, of the occasional celebrity sighting, of getting to know 26 European Cinéphiles – with the Venice Film Festival serving as the perfect backdrop.

The idea that you are going to spend eleven days watching films can be a bit daunting at first and n all honesty, if anyone had to ask me which films I've seen, I wouldn't be able to mention them off the top of my head; of course, there are ones which stick out. What strikes me about the majority of the films I have seen is their social and political relevance, which I find immensely important. From François Ozon's 'Potiche' serving as a satire of the current political situation in France, Feo Aladag's 'Die Fremde' dealing with the problem of honour killings in Europe and domestic violence , Denis Villeneuve's 'Incendies' where the struggles Lebanon faced become an essential part of the narrative and Danis Tanovic's 'Cirkus Columbia' which is played out against the political situation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991. These films that I have mentioned are just a few of the films at the festival which in one way or another struck some political notes. In my opinion, films act as a mirror of reality, so it is quite impossible for a film to be void of social or political commentary. Art is political in itself, and cinema as a visual and auditory medium is very powerful in that it can clearly convey a message or an idea. Throughout the history of film (and politics) this has been used negatively - such as propaganda films as well as positively; making politics more accessible. The rise of Soft Power in today's world means that Film as a medium is extremely important, and we can see that even the European Union acknowledges the potential of cinema in this respect with the Lux Prize. The meeting we had yesterday with some members of the European Parliament showed us that the people who are representing us in Europe are aware of just how powerful film can be, and how it should be appreciated and supported.

Many thanks go to the European Parliament, Europa Cinemas, Giornate Degli Autori and Cineuropa for making this experience possible. Chapeau Bas!

10 September, 2010

The List


Since arriving in Venice, I’ve been having a hard time distinguishing one day from another. The routine makes the days flow together. It all seems a bit blurry and if it wasn´t for my little blue notebook, I would forget half the films I’m watching. To form a general view, I’ve written down a list of things that have made some kind of impression on me or just things I want to keep in mind. I’ve been wanting to do a list like this ever since I read Naive, Super by Erlend Loe. Here’s my list:

- Silent Souls by Aleksei Fedorchhenko.

- Very small coffee cups.

- A lot of nice people with different accents and dialects.

- Delicious coffee.

- A bathroom door that doesn’t close.

- Post Mortem by Pablo Larrain.

- The night I got told off by a waiter for ordering an espresso before the main course.

- Joaquin Phoenix from behind - Or at least someone who looks like him. He was wearing shades!

- Glitter dresses.

- The last scene in Post Mortem.

- The monotonous voice of the Happy Poet (Paul Gordon).

- Knowing that there was a possibility of accidentally bumping into Natalie Portman. Unfortunately it never happened.

- Hailstones the size of olives.

- The Lumiére sequence in the official trailer for The Venice Festival. So far I’ve seen it about 32 times.

- The Venice Days villa and its lovely garden.

- Pizza.

- The beautiful cinematography in Post Mortem.


TOP MOMENTS OF A DAY


I´ve just seen the first LUX PRIZE Picture selected to be screened in the Venice Film Fest Die Fremde (When we leave) by Feo Aladag. Oh,Venice, why do you have to make me cry so often? It was an incredibly emotional and honest “trip“ that gripped all the audience! We almost didn´t have enough handkerchiefs… This film deserves to be here. Thank you.

But to lighten up the atmosphere, while voting for the best picture this morning (cannot tell yet, top secret), I saw half naked Giorgio leaning over the window… Venice rocks!!! J (or Giorgio?)

And so far the most amusing thing was Conall´s enthusiastic shouting during lining up for a film yesterday night. He hopped towards us like a 12 years old school girl with a piece of candy, crying out loud: “I´ve seen Tilda Swinton!!! I´ve seen Tilda Swinton!!! I´m in love with Tilda Swinton!!!” He was hilarious. And not only us were laughing…

Cogunluc – The dimension of gender in modern Turkish society


Yuce’s Cogunluc provided us with a clear snapshot picture of contemporary Turkish society in many aspects. Through its vigorous narrative mechanisms as well as actors’ roles, it helped us come to several conclusions in terms of the gender position, relations and roles within the Turkish society, a society which currently fights to instill the democratic and egalitarian sort of consciousness in its people. First of all, it is not astonishing that masculinity is normally associated with the power, be it political, economical, social and so forth. This is a universally commonplace notion. What is surprising though to observe, is that even young male teenagers have a sort of dependence on their austere patriarchal rule, to whom they must show obedience. Therefore, males have a substantial autonomy which is essentially governed by their fathers’ masculine perceptions and expectations. The ‘man’ in the Turkish society is socialized to be hegemonic and dominant in many respects, from his sexual intercourse with women to his place in the house and wider society. The man is mirrored in the film to essentially be the one who legitimately takes the initiative to chase after and flirt with women and who has the appetite to have sex with them (remember the scenes in the club and also the scenes of Mertkan’s friends pushing him to chase after girls instead of going a drive with the car). Other manifestations of this attitude could be the scene that Mertkan’s mother complaints to him while ascending the stairs and holding shopping bags, that he should have hold more bags and not only two, besides, there is also an element of gender segregation in the everyday interaction of a family, since it was admitted that men watch soccer programmes in a separate room and women watch their preferable programmes in the another room. Masculinity is extremely associated with nationalism (man must have an excellent military command and patriotic devotion, hence it is imperative that he joins the army as soon as possible), business and profit (man must have economical independence in order to prove his social power that will force him to thrive on both a micro and macro level). We’ve also noticed that endogamy, namely the intermarriage of people from the same socioeconomic status is the ideal form of marriage for upper social classes. Mertkan is frequently urged from his father to behave like a normal Turkish man. He kept on saying: “Boys are dying for their country”, “Get a haircut like real men do” etc. From this attitude, we understand that social norms as well as the preservation of a family’s reputation and dignity is of fundamental importance. Moreover, the army is a dynamic social institution whereas education is especially undermined by men. Women who deviate from the autocracy of their masculine-oriented culture and by themselves choose to follow the “humanized” path for the sake of their salvation are unavoidably regarded as “European whores” as it is a blasphemy for their Muslim regime to do so. Umay, the Turkish young woman of the film Die Fremde but also Mertkan of “Cogunluc” will constantly symbolize the intense struggle of people from Anatolia to humanize their sociopolitical status quo and establish an egalitarian system, whereby every kind of freedom, rights, opportunities and free will be enjoyed by all humans, women and men.

09 September, 2010

SCHEDULE - Friday, September 10th


10/09/2010

9.00
Villa degli Autori
Final Meeting (Mention to the Best Film)

10:30
The LUX Prize: DIE FREMDE - WHEN WE LEAVE
Sala Volpi

13:30
27 Times Cinema
Lunch
Villa degli Autori

16:30
27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
Europe and Cultural Identities

23:00
Final toast
Villa degli Autori


Discussion 8: The second time around: debut films and second films


Directing duo Matteo Botrugno and Daniele Coluccini and Turkish film-maker Seren Yüce talked about their debut features – Et in terra pax and Majority, respectively – with the 27 European cinema lovers within the framework of the discussion on debut films and second films’. The debate was moderated by Giorgio Gosetti, head of the Giornate degli autori, alongside Valerio Caruso, director of Cineuropa.org.















Last-minute Post (Day 8)


I am really ashamed to admit, but apparently this is my very first post on our blog, so I have to start with the basics. We have had some serious problems connecting the web which at first made me somewhat annoyed as I really wanted to read the ideas shared here. Having done so this afternoon, I am really disappointed that I couldn’t read al the posts immediately after they got posted because I find most of them very exciting and thought-provoking. But also, I am somewhat glad not to have internet here in Venice, because that might allows me to enjoy the Festival and the wonderful 26 more intensely. I am more than happy to share this fantastic experience of the Venice Days with the other members of the project and I wish that these 10 days lasted longer. Yes, we actually are the ones who find the 24 hours of the days here way too short.

What has probably been the best part of this last eight days here is the morning discussions we had in the wonderful garden of the Villa (or, in case of awful weather – which, quite unexpectedly, very often occurred – inside). The most unforgettable person was of course the amazingly arrogant Danis Tanovic, whose latest film, Cirkus Columbia is in the Giornate Degli Autori selection. Although he is not a particularly original or exciting speaker, his producer, Cédomir Kolar shared some very exciting thoughts with us. Personally, I found the discussions with the Variety critics more interesting and more organized than the ones with the directors and producers, probably because sometimes I feel that even the most talented filmmakers are incapable of sharing anything unusual about the writing-creating-financing-post-production phases. Anyway, I was really honoured to meet all these people, especially, I must say, Denis Villeneuve, whose wonderful Incendies will certainly get my special mention at tomorrow’s final meeting.

Altogether, I found the Venice Days selection very much worth seeing, although I agree with those who were starving for some laughing and humour – instead of more mafia, revenge and raping – at times. Paul Gordon’s The Happy Poet was therefore definitely one refreshing experience, and I wish I could say the same about Cirkus Columbia, which I unfortunately found way too lengthy and classical, even though I loved the scenes with Bonnie, the cat. As for the official selection of the Festival, I was especially happy about the new film of Sofia Coppola, who is one of my favourites at the moment. What I found really amazing about Somewhere is this amazingly sensitive, yet brave and strong young female-character played by the fantastic Elle Fanning, who, for me, equals the young Sofia. My favourite thing about cinema has always been the peeking-into-other-people’s-lives thing – yes, I am a cliché-voyeur-cinéphile – and on many levels, Somewhere offers a perfect platform for that. Also, I felt perfectly excited to sneak into other people’s lives – to be precise, to other people’s bedrooms – when I saw the Happy Few by Antony Cordier.

So this is all for now, as I really would like to go outside and enjoy the last rays of today’s wonderful sunshine in the beach. I can’t wait to hear what the other 26 will suggest for our special mention at tomorrow’s meeting and I hope we will have an incredible last two days here.

Surviving Life


I've had the pleasure of watching Jan Svankmajer's new feature, Surviving Life while here in Venice, and I am thrilled to have come across a film influenced by surrealism. Although not active in the peak years of the movement, the films of JS have always had a healthy nod of the head to its poetic lack of logic and its respect and fear of the subconscious world. You can see an early short of his next to give you an idea of his particular take on surreal film:



An animated JS introduces his film in its first few minutes. He announces that: "What genre is the film? Surviving Life is a psychoanaltical comedy. This is because one of the characters is a psychoanalyst." In Venice this drew a big laugh from the audience. But it isn't technically a joke! This is certainly because the audience were literate in JS's particular style of dead-pan comedy. He then added: "I really wanted to make a feature film. But I didn't have any money. So we took pictures of the actors and animated their photographs. This was much cheaper because photographs don't eat."

The film portrays a man who becomes addicted to his own dreams. He chases them to the detriment of his marriage and his career. Going deeper into these dreams, he discovers repressed memories - aided by his psychiatrist - that spark a full-blown investigation into his own past. The content of these dreams is highly surrealistic: lust for the female form, fear of the unnamed male aggressor, automatic image associations - all under the pretext of Freudian and Jungian psychology. The film drips with surrealistic connections, and for a fan of the genre, made for a thrilling ride of a film.

The style of animation that JS has used for this film reminds me of South Park or a children's TV programme. This gives the very real existential and exterior problems for the film's protagonist a naive, dream-like quality that for me, creates a thrilling unity of form and content. Of the many depictions of dreams in cinema, this is one of the most convincing. The characters' movements are stilted and wooden like Magritte's everyman, their facial expressions like kabuki masks creating a mad, distancing and somehow prosaic world for this film. These passages are cut seamlessly into close-ups for detail shot on film, reminding me of the 1960s series Thunderbirds, notorious for its abandonment of its shiny wooden puppets in favour of a veiny, hairy, real hand reaching for the gun in the holster.

Apologies for throwing so many disparate references around just then.

I fully threw myself into the experience of watching this film, and feel like a I know JS far more after watching this film than I do after a lot of other auteurs' work. It's all there up on screen!

SO FAR SO GOOD

I finally got onto the internet...the short sneaking-into-the-always-overcrowded-office-for-an-internet-access time didn’t really give me enough time to write anything sophisticated on the blog apart from some cheeky facebook statements that were supposed to provoke and tease my cinema loving friends of courseJ. Since I live in the furthest house and the reception is something which comes and goes even you are sticking your head and hands out of the window, it´s been almost impossible to keep in touch. Moreover, seeing four or five films a day don´t really leave you full of energy at the end of a day.


Anyway, from some mysterious reasons I am finally able to be on-line and have some time off to share my incredibly interesting thoughtsJ. My bed is sooo comfy, HARIBO and cup of coffee keep me company, so let´s do this and stop complaining!


Since this is my very first blog comment, I would like to express my deep gratitude for being a part of this great project, I feel much honored to be one of the 27 Young Jury Members of the Venice International Film Festival. This is an unforgettable experience for us all. And so far so good!



I´ll underline the main things that have happened so far, the films I have seen and remembered and the discussions going on. So please, take your seats and switch off your mobile phones...



DAY 1 (Thursday):


This day started perfectly. After the previous and very tiring day, Kata and I decided to get up early and try to get into the queue for Aronofsky´s Black Swan at 8.30 and guess what, we got in! Darren´s feature blew me away and left me speechless...just what I´d expected. Excellent dramaturgy, great music, capturing cinematography and outstanding Natalie Portman. This psychological thriller makes you think, spooks you and mesmerize you at the same time. Black Swan definitely made my day!


Dark Love by Antonio Capuano unfortunately couldn´t keep up with Aronofsky and didn´t leave any special impression.


The next pictures, The Accordion (Jafar Panahi) and The clink of ice (Bertrand Blier), I didn´t get to see due to a fully loaded screening room.


Today´s discussion covered freedom of expression and censorship, mostly from the political point of view throughout the history.



DAY 2 (Friday):


This day was passing in a melancholic and dramatic mood. Morning film Miral (Julian Schnabel) lead me into the war time in the Middle East. Nice cinematography and dramatic story but nothing apart from that has stuck in my memory.


The green blood, an Andrea Segre´s documentary about African immigrants to Italy, was an ordinary film that didn´t let me down but didn´t enchant me either.


On the other hand, Norwegian wood by Tran Anh Hung made me cry. This lyric and beautiful picture totally got me by its purity, simplicity and honesty. The music underlined emotions behind the love story, the mis-en-scene and cinematography became truly irreplaceable parts of the film.


Also Incendies (Scorched) by Denis Villeneuve definitely counts as one of my favourites. This moving story nails you to the chair. In order to search the old roots, the twins are about to find out unexpected… a shocking revelation.


The today´s discussion followed a dramatic topic: Public and private violence.



DAY 3 (Saturday):


I saw Sofia Coppola´s Somewhere which along with Marion Hansel´s Ocean black I would rate as nice but ordinary TV films that don´t insult or fascinate.


On the contrary, the controversial feature about the foursome trying to cope with their love, sexual needs and jealousy, Happy few (Antony Cordier), I found really interesting and powerful.


Today´s topic: The soul of cinema: memory and roots.



DAY 4 (Sunday):


Finally I got to see something that enhanced my mood: a very clever and engaging French comedy about defeating patriarchy in the late 70´ - Potiche (Francois Ozon).


Martin Scorsese´s and Kent Jones´s documentary about a film director Elia Kazan named A letter to Elia pleasantly described the biggest Scorsese´s influence on his work.


The last late night movie was Post mortem by Pablo Larrain. Very slow-paced but original experimental picture that goes deep into the protagonists´ psyche and the storyline is revealed just sketchily. Although, I must admit I fell asleep watching this movie…


Today´s topic: Whatever happened to independent American cinema, where we discussed no more relevant differentiation between studio films, indies and commercial pictures. “All that matters is film and no one cares where you got the money from if the film is good…”



DAY 5 (Monday):


I remember this long line in front of Sala Darsena for a feature named Beyond (Pernilla August). Didn´t know much about it beforehand and I was just nicely surprised by its depths and sincereness. This story about home violence, abuse and alcoholism was indeed convincing and well captured.


The Oscar winning director Danis Tanovic introduced his new epic piece – Circus Columbia. I was relieved that such a harsh topic as a war or its threat was treated with a little bit of fun and easiness.


In the discussion we talked about the future form of cinema. About the difficulty which the new media bring along, how they affect film production and so on. Will the future lays in short films? Or are they going to be video game/comic book movies that will take over?



DAY 6 (Tuesday):


There was almost nothing interesting to watch. The place in between/ Notre etrangere (Sarah Bouyain), The happy poet (Paul Gordon) and Scena del crimine (Walter Stokman)…all very ordinary pieces.


At last, Jan Švankmajer finally took this film festival seriously and presented film art experiment, Surviving life, which played with feature and animations and mixed reality with dream. Funny and smart picture it is. I am giving my personal recommendation.


Today´s topic: What purpose do festivals serve nowadays? The relevant answer is to exhibit and promote authors´ new work.



DAY 7 (Wednesday):


All I have seen today was Vincent Gallo´s experimental feature Promises written in water. Apparently, this film was completely knocked out by the critics and even my fellows didn´t like it. But I really don´t see why. It was clearly an art and audiovisual experiment. The lack of a story did not matter at all. The epic fragments were used only as a background for the psychological and physical exploration of human relationship, man´s mind and body. I especially loved the detailed shots and the framing which almost always separated one person from another during dialogue scenes. So for me, Mr. Gallo, thumbs up!


The documentary format: is this the real cinema? That was the topic of a day. It is really hard to answer this question. This kind of debates has been going on for ages. Some film makers say that the documentaries are definitely more objective than the other media or films. But on the other hand, there are few things we must take into the consideration because they change reality anyway. For instance, staging scenes for reconstructions, using actors, music, the presence of a camera eye itself and above all, editing as a result coming from the director´s choice. Reality is hard to capture and sometimes it is necessary to use art in order to preserve the truth.




So, yeah, so far so good.

natural born Tarantino hunters


The "catch Tarantino game" has become a bit of an obsession among us. Getting in to Sala Grande to a competition film screening is not enough anymore, because that means you can only see him. But none of the 27 is lacking of ambition, which means more is needed and the aims now are the following:
1. sit close to him
2. get his autograph
3. get his autograph on something Tarantino related (meaning it has greater value)
4. to hit the motherload- get him to accept a DVD of your film

Now if only it wouldn't be so hard to get into Sala Grande..

"Don't call my name, don't call my name, Sala Grande!" Conall

Venice Film Festival - a great, exhausting cinema marathon

September 2010
- III-

Danis Tanović was invited at the debate in the morning to discuss about the role of festivals nowadays and the film that he presented at Venice Days, Circus Colombia. He is a nice arrogant person, if I am allowed to say that! And his film, Circus Colombia, is one of my favorite, together with Incendies / Scorched (by Denis Villeneuve); but what actually bothers me is that I cannot compare the two, so as to decide which one I like more. Circus Colombia is different! It says the story of Divko (Miki Manojlović) who returns to his hometown after 20 years of exile, but on a totally inappropriate time as the war was about to start. However, Danis Tanović did not make it a war drama, the film is very complex and stirs different emotions, reactions, impressions. I asked him today what was his intention at the beginning: to make a love story in a war context, a story about war softened by love, a coming-to-the-roots story … because Circus Colombia is a combination of all of these. And he answered that the film is a mirror of himself, and that usually films present the naked nature of the producer, his experience and dreams. So, the film is mostly about him, inspired by what he went through since the war started. He identifies himself with the young Martin (Boris Ler), a boy, chasing girls, having no ideas what the future has reserved for him. Then, with the rich Divko, the happy “possessor” of a trophy wife, who returns home a successful, rich man. Moreover, all his characters are alienated by communism, fascism, fear of war, but in a very comic way. Circus Colombia, is a pleasant comedy, it has lots of tasty funny moments, telling the joke of a regime, of the people in it and the drama of the ones affected by it. As I got it, it is a nicely love story in a very expressive historical background, garnished with a comedy of situation, of language, or character. It is lovely!

If you want to see a film that became an „animation” just becouse „pictures don’t need food” (therefore no money), then choose Surviving Life / Přežít svůj život! Jan Švankmajer needs no presentation...his new film, Surviving Life / Přežít svůj život is absolutely crazy , with a hilariously comic introduction. Variety presents him as the guru of the stop motion, and such a famous name brings in great expectations! Well, this movie was another attempt of playing with our minds and eyes. At the border between dream and reality, Surviving Life / Přežít svůj život is a collage full of symbols and inside jokes for those who have read Sigmund Freud’s works. It presents Eugene (Václav Helsus), an ordinary person, who has some weird dreams of another woman. In an attempt to understand himself, he sees a psychoanalyst who gives him the news that he has just married his „anima”. From then on he starts living more in his dream than in his marriage life reality. But, the movie is more than a story, it is a visual experience, „an orgasm” (as Zoi would say!), an elegant, intrigant, weird mixture of humans, animals, dreams and reality. What makes the film even lovelier is that Jan Švankmajer could combine all these in a very comic way, with delicous dialogs, and suggestive images, making it a surrealist work of art, not an experimental kitsch!

Those who are afraid of clowns should not watch Balade Triste de Trompeta (by Alex de la Iglesia). But i am not afraid, so i enjoyed it, though 8:30 in the morning is not the perfect time to see such a movie. Why? Oh well, the film starts promising saying the story of a boy who wants to become a funny clown as his imprisoned father. But, everything goes crazy after he finds a job in a circus and fells in love with the boss’s girlfriend. This sad boy turns out to be... a bloody murderer!. So, yeah, it is a perfect film for those who love to see a lot of blood, exagerated drama, grotesque images and protagonists. For all the others, it may be too much. For me, it was funny, except for the mutilation scenes, when i had to cover my eyes. But, all these in combination with too much blood, a criminal crazy clown in love with a horny Barby girl make a combination that stirs laughts ... and i found it amusing!

08 September, 2010

SCHEDULE - Thursday, September 9th


09/09/2010

08:45
LA VIDA DE LOS PECES - THE LIFE OF FISH
Sala Volpi

11:00
27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
The second time around: Debut films and second films

18:30
COGUNLUK - MAJORITY
Sala Darsena
Followed by Q&A

22:00
LA VITA AL TEMPO DELLA MORTE
Sala Volpi
Followed by Q&A

Discussion 7: The documentary format: is this the real cinema?


Giorgio Gosetti chaired again the 7th debate – on the fictional model and the different forms of documentary – with the 27 young cinema lovers. Special guests included Italian film-maker Andrea Caccia (La vita al tempo della morte) and Dutch director Walter Stokman (Scena del crimine).












Morricone & Hellbenders (Sergio Corbucci, 1967)


while waiting for one of the movies to be screened I was thinking about intro of Venice days and music playing in it. it sounded familiar especially because my friend and I had a movie night of classics from Spaghetti Westerns before I left for Venice. if you watch western movies (especially Spaghetti ones), you are most likely to hear THE musician for sub-genre mentioned - Ennio Morricone. I love his work not only for his legendary contribution to the whole feeling/concept of westerns but also his later works which includes many film scores and works with Orchestras so I think a brilliant choice was made by the artists making this intro. I think that the music was taken from a movie called The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) which is well known as one of the most powerful ones about war between Algerians against French colonial authorities (it’s really cruel, it doesn’t bring us heroes but the humanity in its darkest forms and I like it because it’s indifferent, you feel like an observer, it doesn’t take sides but it’s just showing us the events following one another) but I won’t write about this one too much because I just wanted to mention it for the music’s sake. today (00:30) I saw Hellbenders (I Crudeli, Sergio Corbucci, 1967) and I enjoyed it so much I will try to describe it without exajerating things. after the civil war an ex-confederate leads his people (family) to New Mexico where he wants to reorganize Confederate troops and revive the Confederation. he has a huge amount of stolen money in a coffin (to finance reorganization), alcoholic woman (which is no good and no good takes you nowhere in westerns), sons (3 different ones) and they are being hunted/they are wanted (just that everyone confronting them doesn’t know that). it did feel like a road movie as I’ve read in one review because the group is travelling towards south/southwest, they are constantly moving from one point to another and we get to know the characters on the road. it is a proper Spaghetti - Morricone sealing it like one with his music and it has loads of guns, shooting, alcohol, moral lessons, death, horses and a good point.

SCHEDULE - Wednesday, September 8th

08/09/2010

11:00
27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
The documentary format: is this the real cinema?

19:15
ET IN TERRA PAX - AND PEACE ON EARTH
Sala Darsena
Followed by Q&A

22:00
SCENA DEL CRIMINE [out of competition]
Sala Volpi
Followed by Q&A


all together now!


"Ladies and gentlemen. Please take your seats, the screening is about to begin. Please switch off your mobile phones. We remind you that during the screening taking pictures in any form of audio video is strictly forbidden. Thank you for your collaboration."

Discussion 6: What purposes do festivals serve nowadays?


The 27 European movie-goers had the chance to talk about the purpose festivals serve nowadays with Bosnian director Danis Tanović and his Slovenian producer Čedomir Kolar (Cirkus Columbia), alongside Giorgio Gosetti, who participated in the debate as director of Venice Days and RomeFilmFest.


















Circus Columbia


Tanovic’s Circus Columbia has a multidimensional semiotic importance that is throughout its flow many motifs, patterns and mise-en-scene are incorporated in order to underlie cultural expressions such as language, local customs and way of thinking but also the given sociopolitical conditions that existed in that era in Bosnia-Herzegovina. As it was stated it the discussion today, the film indeed encompasses a variety of thematic features, therefore it does not deserve a single labeling with regards to its main topic that it addresses. Nevertheless, apart from the political aspect, namely the fall of Communism and the welcoming of a new era, that is Nationalism and its emerging state of affairs, the film includes many other elements of socially anthropological merit. To begin with, the arrival of Divko, after his 20 year exile in Germany, signifies the nouveau rich mentality of those returning back to their homeland. Suffering from nostalgia to repatriate, having undergone distress and subsequently worked many years in order to survive and eventually having made a lot of money, they return to their basis with another social status, that immensely changes them as humans. Similarly Divko becomes literally ruthless, totally apathetic, measures everything on the basis of money and has a materialistic attitude; also, his patriarchal norms oblige him to behave in a hegemonic, inhuman and superior way that undermines those in lower social strata. In an era which welcomes a new state of affairs in political regards, the phenomenon of imperialism is also implied in the film. Remember the scene whereby the main protagonist provokingly buys the hair-saloon which was the main economic source of his previous wife, and generally his appetite of changing the indigenous character of the things he acquires (the scene where he gets rid of the photographs of his ex-wife and some alterations he makes in the house is typical of this attitude). All these occurrences take place during a phase of political instability and preparation for war turmoil. Nevertheless, although this spirit highly prevails throughout the film, Tanovic marks his original Balkan signature, by incorporating an interplay of sense of humor, and that is what simply renders the film with a great deal of distinctiveness, stimulation and authenticity. All in all, it was an exceptional film to watch, not because it had a happy ending, but primarily because of its polysemic nature and its meaningful sociopolitical implications as well the means of representing these implications.

07 September, 2010

Venice Film Festival – a great, exhausting cinema marathon

September 2010

- I -


I’ve just come back from a 10 pm movie. The 10 pm movie is the one that regardless if you like it or nor, it will still make you fall asleep, at least for one moment. I find this extremely funny, because I’ve been here only for six days, and everybody feels already tired…I’m just curious how it’s going to be on the last few days! Yesterday, most of us went to see the 10 pm Post Mortem (by Pablo Larrain), which was screened in the impressive Sala Grande. After staying in a horribly long line and praying to get in, we finally succeeded and… 30 minutes through the movie, most of the people around me were sound asleep (I’m curious if Tarantino fell asleep too!).

The cinema marathon started 6 days ago, and since then I’ve seen as many films I could in a day. Some of them I liked, some of them I loved, some of them I’ve just forgot as soon as I left the cinema. That’s how it is! You keep in mind only the extremely good or bad screenings, the “normal” ones just go as “normal” as they came. And it is actually impossible not to find something you really like, in 12 days of screenings. But, taste is personal! For example, the best scored movie according to Variety is Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame (by Tsui Hark). It is hilarious! For me, this movie was a combination of Matrix special effects with Lord of the Rings' fantasy, in a Detective Colombo context. I do not mean that it was a kitsch, but it wasn’t the best either. The idea was not original, and it also seemed very commercial, the kind of movie screened in Multiplex Cinemas. So how could this kind of Japanese fantasy movie, which had some typical Asian scenes extremely comic for the audience (though they were supposed to be serious), be stared better than Ovsyanki/Silent Souls (by Aleksei Fedorchenko), Miral (by Julian Schnabel), or Potiche (by François Ozon), and the list goes on…

So, yeah, taste is personal, but there were some movies we all agreed that were great. And I’m referring especially to Incendies/Scorched (by Denis Villeneuve, the winner of Best Canadian Film Award in 2009 for Politechnique), the best movie I’ve seen so far! It was extraordinary, speechless! No one actually expected this to be so “different”. When I entered the cinema, all I could remember were Adrian’s words “He’s a nice guy, and nice guys have great movies. Let’s hope this one will be good”, and it was. It is the only one that put me in the uncomfortable situation of not being able to anticipate, which makes it brilliant. Nobody made a sound throughout the movie, so that at the end the room just burst into applause. Moreover, Sala Darsena remained almost full for the Q&A, which brought in front of us “normal” people, so different from the protagonists; a fact which strengthened, once again, my thoughts that it was a very good film. What it is about? This is even a more difficult question to answer, I was thinking today about the storyline, and I realized that it is a movie that you have to see to like it, the simple reveal of the plot may make it seem “banal”. So, a banal idea is turned by Dennis Villeneuve into a very complex movie, the product of a teamwork that it is extremely unpredictable. Nawal Marwan (Lubna) – the winner of The Most Promising Actress at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2004, for Strangers - was extraordinary in this role, she was so convincing and she transmitted so much emotion, that it was shocking to see her other than Lubna. So, the film was shot somewhere in the north of Jordan, and has as a starting point and source of the drama a political conflict in the Middle East. The only drawback may be that at the end it seems a little far-fetched, however the idea is “saved” by the excellent acting of the protagonists. All in all, Incendies/Scorched is a captivating drama, in the context of returning-to-the roots story on Radiohead’s songs.

I also enjoyed Circus Columbia (by Denis Tanovic), but I will let this for a special mention. The animation movie from the Venice Days' competition, Pequeñas Voces / Little Voices (by Jairo Eduardo Carrill and Oscar Andrade) was ok, but controversial at the same time. It stirred many discussions due to the lack of drama this kind of movie should have had. The idea is one with great impact, delicate I would say, an animated documentary based on children’s stories about the violence in Colombia. However, the film is not such dramatic. But after discussing this point, I found out that it was supposed to be a kind of family movie that even children can watch and discuss it with their parents. So, yes, after all it was a nice film for those interested in different techniques of animation, comic and dramatic at the same time, for all ages!


- II -


Every movie gives us a different state of spirit, and we take it very personally. That’s why depending on how much you identify yourself with the situation, or on what feelings it transmits, you may want to see it again in different moments of your live. I, for one, would like to see Ovsyanki/Silent Souls (by Aleksei Fedorchenko) again. Thought the translation was not so good as it didn't mirror the very poetical language it used, it is a very intense movie. At the end of it, I tended not to like it, but now, thinking it over I realize that I would watch it again just for the sake of the story - the passionate love of a man for his dead wife - in the context of Merja funeral customs. Yes, it may be a little boring sometimes, but it is still a touching movie with a strong message.

Today, it was my lucky day. I saw only good movies, and I tend to forget now the infernal time spent in the infinite lines. I have stayed almost two hours in a line to see I’m still here (by Casey Affleck) at Sala Grande, the kind of movie that makes you feel better about yourself. And it was worth it! As it usually happens, the opinions are different, however this would be one of the movies I would like to see again on a Sunday evening with my friends. The film follows Joaquin Phoenix’s drama of not finding his place in this world (he gives up acting dreaming of a hip-hop career, and becomes a joke for the Hollywood industry), but in a very sarcastic way that it actually made the audience laugh all the time. So yes, it is an entertaining movie, funny and dramatic at the same time, which reveals once more that being a star doesn’t solve your problems. But unlike Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere, which has mainly the same idea, this one is more dynamic. Sophia Coppola takes the dramatic part too serious, she wants to make a touching movie, which actually was boring. Of course, the movie has it’s good moments too, funny ones too, but it has no climax, no moment of maximum intensity (as I believe an existential drama like this should be), it does not transmits the complex emotions Johnny experiences… we can just guess them… and it’s just too slow.

P.S. The one thing I enjoy the most in festivals is going to the cinema as a group. I mean, the discussions after the movie are absolutely delicious, everybody has his own opinions and arguments and is very willing to share them. I absolutely love discussing what we’ve just seen, as it makes the film even more interesting!

SCHEDULE - Tuesday, September 7th

07/09/2010

11:00
27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
What purpose do festivals serve nowadays?

19:00
NOTRE ÉTRANGÈRE - THE PLACE IN BETWEEN
Sala Darsena
Followed by Q&A

22:00
THE HAPPY POET
Sala Volpi


06 September, 2010

Discussion 5: Which form will tomorrow’s cinema take?


Directing duos Jairo Eduardo Carrillo and Oscar Andrade (Pequeñas voces) and Giovanni Maderna and Sara Pozzoli (Cielo senza terra) shared their views on the forms tomorrow’s cinema might take with the 27 young cinema goers in a debate moderated by Giorgio Gosetti, director of Venice Days, and Variety editor Timothy M. Gray.