Directed by: Philippe Lesage Cast: Edouard Tremblay-Grenier, Pier-Luc Funk, Yannick Gobeil-Dugas, Vassili Schneider
Canada, 2015, 118min.Ten-year-old Felix is growing up in a peaceful environment and you might say his childhood is ideal. The movie looks at events through his eyes, thereby revealing little by little how much fear and anxiety even a so-called normal child experiences at every turn. Thanks to his heightened sensitivity, the boy seems to feel when actual danger is lurking nearby.
Fevered imagination and nightmarish reality brush shoulders to disconcerting effect in Quebecois filmmaker Philippe Lesage’s extraordinary examination of childhood fears festering in broad suburban daylight.Putting his documentary training to disciplined use as he teases out the largely internalized insecurities – sexual, social and practical – of his 10-year-old protagonist, Lesage initially balances good-humored humanism with a formal sangfroid suggestive of a summer-brightened Haneke. A provocative shift in perspective at the midway point, however, calls the irrationality of those young neuroses into question: As word spreads through the community of a series of child kidnappings, the boy’s fears are concentrated on a threat that cannot easily be explained away, left ambiguous until, an hour into the film, Lesage abruptly breaks away from his experience to trace the adjacent arc of an insidious (but likewise insecure) authority.
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Danny Glover
USA, 2016, 90 min.
It’s Tom’s birthday and the guests invited to celebrate at his cozy New York apartment include colleague Clyde, accompanied by a new acquaintance named Alice. The attractive woman immediately dazzles the group with her wit and brilliance, although Tom looks on quietly, trying to remember something. This intriguing drama pursues the topic of individual identity and its transformations while stars Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon acquit themselves with true aplomb.
In the cozy New York apartment that reserved government official Tom shares with his wife Rehema, a jewelry designer, a celebration is being prepared for the man of the house with a close-knit group of friends and coworkers.
Tom’s colleague Clyde arrives with the charming Alice, a new acquaintance he’s been going on about for weeks. The attractive woman immediately dazzles the company with her wit and brilliance, but Tom merely looks on in silence. The suspicion in his face might be read as the effort to remember, perhaps an event that happened long ago. Joshua Marston has come out with an intriguing drama that seeks a nuanced elaboration of the topic of individual identity. The masterful director, who makes skillful use of the tools of film expression to strengthen the psychological effect on the viewer, challenges us to contemplate a tempting escape from reality and the consequences that impact unsuspecting loved ones with fatal force.
Cast:Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George Mackay, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Ann Dowd
USA, 2016, 119 min.
Ben and his six children live deep in the woods according to the rules he’s established. When tragedy strikes the family, they all head back to civilization. This original, witty, visually engaging, and emotional movie starring the charismatic Viggo Mortensen was screened to acclaim at this year’s Cannes IFF.
Ben and his six children live deep in a quiet and majestic northwestern forest. Ben determines the rules governing everyday life and education, and he devotes all his time and attention to the kids, trying to teach them to be self-sufficient and to really understand their subjects of study rather than just cram it in via rote memory.
While enjoying the almost perfect harmony of their fabricated paradise, however, the family is struck by tragedy and decides to head back to the city where their chosen way of life and Ben’s role as father are challenged. The charismatic Viggo Mortensen undertakes the lead as head of the likable seven-member clan, his flair for the role underpinned by his involvement in the script from the very outset. In this witty, unconventional, and touching picture, the gifted director holds a mirror up to our values and consumer lifestyle. His high-energy, visually absorbing film was a success at this year’s Cannes festival where Un Certain Regard honored Ross with Best Director.
Directed by: Sven Taddicken Cast: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Tukur, Johannes Krisch
Germany, 2016, 101 min.
Helene Brindel’s childless marriage bears no traces of happiness, and the somber woman has also lost her faith in God. Liberation from the emotional trap of gloomy thoughts and insomnia has its price, however, when it one day appears in the person of charismatic psychologist Eduard Gluck. Martina Gedeck (The Lives of Others), Ulrich Tukur (The White Ribbon), and Johannes Krisch (Revanche) star in an uncommon psychological romance based on the novel of the same name by renowned Scottish author A. L. Kennedy.
Helene Brindel’s childless marriage shows no signs of harmony, and the somber woman has also lost her faith in God. “Where are You?” she asks from behind a veil of melancholy that separates her from the real world of relative luxury in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Liberation from the emotional trap of gloomy thoughts and insomnia appears one day in the person of charismatic psychologist Eduard Gluck, a self-assured and charming speaker for “new cybernetics,” which claims the ability to control reality with the mind and the possibility of “reprogramming oneself.” But a surprising secret hides behind his elegantly formulated guidelines for a lifestyle, whose self-centeredness Gluck tries to conceal with mild irony.
Directed by: Kirill Serebrennikov Cast: Petr Skvortsov, Victoria Isakova, Julia Aug
Russia, 2016, 118 min.
Schoolboy Veniamin is convinced that the world is stuck fast in a mire of lies and depravity and that he alone knows how to make things right. Armed with quotations from the Bible and an awareness of his role as the Chosen One, he sets out to discipline a humanity that has gone astray. Created by a distinguished theatre and film director, this Russian picture examining the birth of ideological extremism was shown at Cannes.
Schoolboy Veniamin has a strong feeling that the world is heading for destruction. Armed with quotations from the Bible and the unassailable conviction that he is the Chosen One, he sets out to correct at least those in his midst: his mother, his classmates and his teachers.His dogmatic behaviour gives some the pretext to vent their xenophobia; for others it’s a test of tolerance. Veniamin is prepared to use all available resources in the name of ideology. Thirty years after Vadim Abdrashitov’s Plumbum, or The Dangerous Game (Plyumbum, ili opasnaya igra, 1986), Kirill Serebrennikov has also come up with a film examining the seeds of belief-driven extremism, choosing to set the work in contemporary Russia, a country that craves a new ideology. The director previously created a successful stage production of the original story by German playwright and dramaturge Marius von Mayenburg. Screened in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, the film received the François Chalais Award as a work that best conveys the urgency of the present.
Cast: Sergio Hernández, Andrew Bargsted, Jaime Leiva, Edgardo Bruna
Chile, 2016, 81 min.
While a resigned father works in the same job he’s had for the past 25 years, his adolescent son is completely immersed in his own world, exploring his gay identity. The boy’s fragility and eccentricities, however, provoke a gang of local youths who won’t tolerate people who are different in their neighbourhood. A powerful debut which reflects on the values of human freedom and justice.
After 25 years in the same job, unaspiring introvert Juan is hoping for promotion. Not only would he finally receive some recognition for his work, but he’d also be able to devote more time to his 18-year-old son Pablo, whom he is raising on his own.
Like every teenager, Pablo needs his independence but Juan doesn’t mind – the boy dresses as a woman, spends time with his neighbourhood lover and goes off to indulge his love of dancing. When Pablo is the victim of a homophobic attack, Juan suddenly has to deal with problems he had blocked out for so long, pushing him to stand up to the intolerance in his midst. This bleak drama about the courage to defy constricting norms and conventions points a cautionary finger at the blindness of Chilean society and highlights the need to fight for truth and justice. Social criticism is, however, only one of the film’s many layers. It is primarily a courageous work which, in its quest for its own expression, succeeds in combining an atmospheric style with unnerving realism.
Directed by: Jan Hřebejk Cast: Zuzana Mauréry, Csongor Kassai, Zuzana Konečná, Tamara Fischer, Martin Havelka
Slovak Republic / Czech Republic, 2016, 102 min.
The principal of an elementary school calls a special parents meeting after it’s alleged that the seemingly empathetic and kindly-looking teacher Mrs. Drazděchová uses her students to manipulate their parents. Although this confidently-directed drama is set in the era of late Czechoslovak Normalization, the multifaceted study of pathological manipulation has universal applicability.
The early 1980s, Czechoslovakia. The principal of an elementary school calls a special parents meeting. Allegations have been made against a seemingly empathetic, kind, and amiable-looking teacher named Mrs. Drazděchová, claiming that she uses her students to manipulate their parents into providing her with minor handyman assistance, unearned material comforts, and even a love affair. Will any of the families oppose the unscrupulous teacher or will her unwritten system continue to hold sway? Featuring a snappy script, masterful performances, and assured direction, the drama presents a multifaceted study of pathological manipulation. The picture can be read as a bold contribution to the debate about the monstrosities that warped Czechoslovak society in the Normalization era, or about the post-revolution period, tainted by communism, that allowed the mechanisms of the past to take firm root. But the story, of course, has a universal application – the corrosive force of power, corruption, and human calculation hardly respects the limitations of time and space.
Directed by: Tobias Nölle Cast: Georg Friedrich, Tilde von Overbeck
Switzerland / France, 2016, 91 min.
Der Privatdetektiv Aloys (Georg Friedrich) wird vom berufsmäßigen Voyeur selbst zu einem Beobachteten und Getriebenen, als ihm eines Nachts ein Koffer mit seinen Überaschungsbändern geklaut wird und sich am Tag darauf eine mysteriöse Frauenstimme bei ihm meldet. Doch anstatt in Panik zu verfallen, beginnt sich Aloys für die fremde Unbekannte zu interessieren und beginnt, das erste Mal in seinem Leben, aus seiner Isolation zu entkommen…
Aloys has just buried his father with whom he ran a detective agency. A life filled with routine seems to help him come to terms with his loss, that is until someone steals his prized collection of video tapes and cameras, equipment he has amassed for both professional and private use. He begins to lose control of his life and will be forced to leave his carefully constructed microworld. His cassettes are returned to him, but the game has to carry on. Aloys discovers a secret realm of fantasy when he starts to receive phone calls from a young woman called Vera. The conversations between the two take on the surreal shades of a guarded courtship. But, sooner or later, Aloys needs to find the courage to seek out the real Vera, who may well be more complicated than her dream version. Nölle’s carefully composed melancholic images, partaking of both reality and illusion, are complemented with subtle performances from the two leads (Georg Friedrich, Tilde von Overbeck). Despite being a debut feature, the work manifests experience and a clear vision.
Directed by: Isaki Lacuesta, Isa Campo Cast: Àlex Monner, Emma Suárez, Sergi López, Bruno Todeschini
Spain / Switzerland, 2016, 103 min.
For many years no one knew what happened to nine-year-old Gabriel after a mysterious accident in the mountains. Years later the now teenage boy suddenly appears pleading a case of amnesia. Are we witnessing the return of a real son searching for his identity or the strategic manipulations of an imposter?
Gabriel, 17, returns to his small-town home at the foot of the Spanish Pyrenees where most of the inhabitants, including his own mother, have long thought he was dead. Eight years previously he mysteriously disappeared from the scene of a tragic accident that killed his father, and nobody has seen him since. Regardless, back home the boy suffers from extensive amnesia, only retaining the barest snippets of the past. But his quest for identity and for the lost connection binding him to his mother provokes suspicion, leading the locals to wonder: Is he really who he professes to be or is he an imposter making it all up? This brilliantly constructed picture is more than the kind of thriller that would answer this question alone: it also offers an exceptionally precise probe into the lives of the small town’s individual inhabitants as Gabriel’s return becomes an unexpected catalyst for their web of destiny.
Directed by: Jiří Sádek Cast: Aňa Geislerová, Karolína Lipowská, Daniela Kolářová, Jiří Štrébl, Zdeněk Mucha, Marie Ludvíková
Czech Republic, 2016, 90 min.
Eliška moves back with her daughter Anetka to her husband’s native village. But something strange is going on and, as the temperature rises, Eliška becomes increasingly jittery. Fear is all-pervading and spectres move freely between dream and reality. The Noonday Witch is both an atmospheric horror film and a psychological drama, deftly toying with the viewer’s senses.
In the middle of an unusually hot summer, Eliška moves back to her husband’s native village with her young daughter Anetka. Their return is associated with a mystery that everyone seems to be aware of except the girl. The heat starts to become unbearable, the tension mounts and Karolínka begins to sense that something isn’t right. But her mother is increasingly cagey about answering her questions and is also getting increasingly wound up. The phantoms launch their attack and it makes no difference if they’re real or not. Fighting them is arduous and it’s not clear how things will turn out. Jiří Sádek’s feature debut is both an atmospheric horror film and psychological drama. He deftly toys with the mere suggestion of the evil that lingers at the very edge of our field of vision. The film’s borderline between nightmare and everyday reality shimmers like the air above a tarmac road. Anna Geislerová excels in one of the lead roles, as does Daniela Kolářová, whose village eccentric Anežka vividly embodies everything we fear when reading Karel Jaromír Erben’s ballad “The Noonday Witch.”
Cast: Robrecht Vanden Thoren, Gilles De Schryver, Tom Audenaert, Isabelle de Hertogh
Belgium, 2011, 115 min.
Die Freunde Lars, Philip und Jozef verbindet eine gemeinsame Sehnsucht. Obwohl bereits in ihren Zwanzigern, hatten sie noch niemals Sex – und das soll sich schnellstens ändern. Doch dieses Vorhaben in die Tat umzusetzen, ist gar nicht so einfach. Lars sitzt aufgrund einer fortschreitenden Krankheit im Rollstuhl, Philip ist vom Hals abwärts gelähmt und Jozef ist fast komplett blind. Und ihre überfürsorglichen Eltern verbieten ihnen eine sorgfältig als Wein-Tour getarnte Reise in ein Bordell, das auf ihre besonderen Bedürfnisse eingestellt ist. So organisieren sie sich heimlich den nächstbesten Fahrer namens Claude, der sich bald als die Fahrerin Claude herausstellt, und begeben sich auf eigene Faust in einem Kleinbus auf eine Tour, die sie aus ihrer wohlbehüteten belgischen Heimat an die spanische Küste und damit direkt an das Ziel ihrer Träume führen soll…
Ausgangspunkt für den Film war die BBC-Dokumentation For One Night Only, die Asta Philpot und zwei andere Behinderte auf der Reise zu einem derartigen Bordell nach Spanien begleitete. Philpot, der von Geburt an an Arthrogryposis, einer Form der Gelenksteife, leidet, kann den Großteil seines Körpers nicht bewegen. Sein eigenes Leben wurde verändert, als er seine Unschuld auf diese Weise verlor und er wollte diese Erfahrung mit anderen Männern teilen, die nie sexuelle Intimität gekannt hatten. „Dieser Typ ist so positiv,“ erinnert sich Enthoven. „Die Dokumentation machte auf uns gewaltigen Eindruck.“ Mariano Vanhoof, Enthovens Partner in der Produktionsfirma, Fobic Films, hatte die Idee, daraus einen Film zu entwickeln.Hasta La Vista wurde im Sommer 2011 auf dem Montreal World Film Festival mit drei Preisen (Gran Prix des Amériques; People’s Choice Award; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention) ausgezeichnet und war Publikumsgewinner am KVIFF.
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar Cast: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Rossy de Palma, Michelle Jenner
Spain, 2016, 99 min.
After a chance encounter with the best friend of her daughter Antía, Julieta decides not to leave Madrid, hoping that, after many years, she will see Antía again. While she waits for some kind of contact from her daughter, she writes her a letter in an attempt to clarify a mystery from the past, and to shed light on her own mistakes. Almodóvar’s melodrama features two actresses playing Julieta – Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte – representing two periods in the character’s life.
Julieta is about to leave Madrid for good when she bumps into her daughter’s best friend. When Bea tells her that she recently spoke to Antía, Julieta decides to stay in the city, hoping that she will see her daughter again after her distressing disappearance years earlier.
She decides to write to Antía, telling her all the things she had hidden from her and what happened to push them apart. She speaks of fate, of her remorse, and her struggle with her own personality, thus allowing the viewer to witness the reawakening of this complex character’s past existence. The director entrusted the part of Julieta to two actresses: Emma Suárez as a mother who now longs to reconnect with her daughter, and Adriana Ugarte, who takes the role of the younger Julieta. The Spanish filmmaker found inspiration for his return to passionate women and erring mothers in the short stories of Canadian writer Alice Munro, yet the literary model in Almodóvar’s treatment acquires a measure of affection in the lightly ironic melodrama that characterises his best work.
Directed by: Xavier Dolan Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, Nathalie Baye
Canada / France, 2016, 97 min.Einfach das Ende der Welt,so der deutsche Titel, ist ein kanadisch-französisches Filmdrama von Xavier Dolan, das auf dem gleichnamigen Theaterstück von Jean-Luc Lagarce aus dem Jahr 1990 basiert. Der Film feierte am 19. Mai 2016 im Rahmen der Internationalen Filmfestspiele von Cannes seine Premiere und wurde dort mit dem Großen Preis der Jury ausgezeichnet.
Die tragische Schönheit der Kameliendame ist ihr bevorstehender Tod. Beim schwulen jungen Schriftsteller Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) ist das nun auch so. Louis hat sich entschieden, seine Mutter und seine Geschwister zu besuchen, die er jahrelang nicht gesehen hat.
Seine kleine Schwester Suzanne (Léa Seydoux) kennt den Bruder kaum. Für sie ist er längst eine Art romantische Legende. Antoine, gespielt von Vincent Cassel, ist der Älteste. Ein Bündel unterdrückter Wut, das spottet und giftelt. Er hat es nie verwunden, dass sein Bruder einfach aus seinem Leben verschwunden ist. Antoines Frau Catherine (Marion Cotillard) kennt und erduldet seine Wut; sie scheint sie zu kennen und zu akzeptieren und liebt ihren Mann wie ein krankes Kind. Die Mutter schliesslich, schön übertrieben gespielt von Nathalie Baye, versteht viel mehr, als sie sich anmerken lässt. Was sie allerdings alle nicht wissen: Louis ist gekommen, um sich zu verabschieden, sie auf seinen Tod vorzubereiten.
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
USA, 2016, 113 min.
Paterson is both a bus driver and a poet. He lives with his wife in the town of Paterson, once celebrated, now forgotten. The seven days, during which Jarmusch’s poetic film follows the rhythms of the couple’s life, unfold simply through the director’s gentle humor and his observation of the minute details that make up Paterson’s internal world.
Bus driver Paterson lives with his wife Laura in Paterson, a one-time city of poets now in decline. In his 30s, Paterson leads a well-ordered life alongside his wife who loves him and has a head full of ideas for augmenting their limited budget. They own an English bulldog named Marvin whom Paterson takes on evening walks, during which they always stop at a local bar. He wakes up early every morning in order to be on time at his bus, the snack Laura has prepared for him gripped in his hand. But Paterson is also a poet, and everyday he writes his poems in the notebook he always carries with him. The film observes two inconspicuous people and the daily rhythm of their lives: nothing remarkable occurs, the appeal of the story generated by the poetry of tiny details. “We were trying to make a film that was intentionally slight, without drama, conflict, or action. It was kind of an antidote to victimized females and action and violence and drama and everyone’s personal conflict with each other and their lovers – Jim Jarmusch.”
Cast: Jesse Camacho, Joey Klein, Brielle Robillard, Eve Harlow
Canada, 2016, 82 min.
Chris can’t go on. His classmates bully him, the girls don’t know he’s alive, and his mother doesn’t understand him. Attacked by a gang of boys, he unexpectedly finds an ally in a young stranger and thinks maybe they could take off together. After having completely new experiences Chris finds out that Bobby may be more needy than he thought.
Teenager Chris wouldn’t hurt a fly, but he’s got problems with the world anyway: his classmates laugh at him, the girls think he’s fat, and at home his mother doesn’t really understand him. On top of that, a gang of boys attacks him on the street one evening, but he finds help from an unknown guy who jumps out of his car to intervene – and Chris can’t hide his amazement. Even more so because he and the stranger get to talking, and the boy’s embarrassed vulnerability prompts Bobby to invite Chris on a nighttime drive through the town. During stops at various parties and in assorted establishments where they seem to know his guide well, Chris is captivated by Bobby’s confidence and directness toward everyone they meet. Among them is the somewhat unusual Olivia, and Chris senses that his protector is concealing something about her behavior. When he figures it out he realizes that Bobby has been making a somewhat false impression. The roles gradually reverse and Chris begins to understand himself better without ceasing to understand Bobby or liking him.
Directed by: Jean-François Richet Cast: Mel Gibson, Elisabeth Röhm, Erin Moriarty, William H. Macy, Diego Luna, Thomas Mann
France, 2016, 88 min.
Mel Gibson’s career is linked to movie characters who generally suffer like dogs. This holds true for his role in the thriller recently featured out of competition at a Cannes midnight screening. But this time around things are more painful for the drug dealers who threaten the life of a young woman, the daughter of a former motorcycle gang member who has a rap sheet as long as his tattooed forearm (played with gusto and characteristic self-deprecation by Mel Gibson, a recent KVIFF guest).
Mel Gibson’s career is linked to movie characters who generally suffer like dogs. The same holds true for his role in the action extravaganza recently featured out of competition at a Cannes’ midnight screening. But as a former Hells Angels biker gang member who’s got a rap sheet as long as his own tattooed forearm, this time around he puts even more hurt on the drug dealers that stand in his way. With gusto and typical self-deprecation, Gibson takes on the role of John Link, who lives in the middle of the California desert where his trailer also serves as a tattoo parlor. His sincere effort to behave himself (cutting out violence and addictive substances) goes out the window the moment his missing daughter Lydia suddenly turns up, pursued by the above-mentioned baddies. But there’s no time now for sermonizing recriminations. Blood Father is a charming dime-novel thriller elevated by Gibson’s absolute immersion in the part – a creation whose energy is, at the very least, solidly rousing.