Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seawards Journey (2003)

Seawards Journey (2003)
Director: Guillermo Casanova 
Country: Uruguay-Argentina

It's a Sunday morning 1963 in a bar in a town of Minas. Rataplan, the sweeper, Quintana, the undertaker, Seven and Three Ten, the seller of lottery Aquino and her dog, waiting for Rodriguez, who's going to take you to see the sea for the first time.The Basque, his foreman, reluctantly accompanies them. Fresh from the capital, an elegant Unknown joins the entourage at the last minute. Along the journey, the sun, in the ramshackle truck Rodriguez, the six characters will reveal his particular way of living and feeling surrounded by green landscapes of the mountains to the coast and the unknown sea ...
The trip to the Sea is based on the story of the same name of the author Juan José Morosoli Minuano, first published in 1952. Uruguayan director Guillermo Casanova (with the collaboration of Julio Cesar Castro "Juceca" in the dialogues) made this kind of "road movie" Creole on six characters starting from a small town in the interior to meet the sea.
For the filming, the team consisting of about 50 people, including technicians and actors, he moved to the city of Minas, the capital of the Department of Lavalleja to 122 km from Montevideo on Route 8.In the first four weeks were filmed scenes involving landscapes Lavalleja saws and locations in the cities of Mines and Aiguá Maldonado, 153 km from Montevideo with reconstruction of the Route 13 era (the film is set in 1963) . In the last week were shot in Atlantis Mdeo 45 km. Route Interbalnearia, Costa Azul and Parque del Plata, the scenes of the resort and the beach.
The journey to the sea was one of the awards in 1999 FONA also support Ibermedia Program in 2001. It is the first feature film by Guillermo Casanova, and it has won the top prize at the 29th Latin American Film Festival of Huelva and a special prize of the Official College of Architects of Huelva.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The First Grader (2010)

The First Grader (2010)
 Director: Justin Chadwick
 Country:  Kenya
Runtime: 103 min

In a small, remote, mountaintop primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his 80s, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance at the education so long denied—even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-old children.
Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris) supports his struggle to gain admission, and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don't want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.
Full of vitality and humor, the film explores the remarkable relationships Maruge builds with classmates some 80 years his junior. Through Maruge's journey, we are taken back to the shocking untold story of British colonial rule 50 years earlier, when Maruge fought for the freedom of his country and eventually ended up in the extreme and harsh conditions of the British detention camps.
The First Grader is a heartwarming and inspiring true story of one man's fight for what he believes is his right in order to overcome the burdens of his past. It is a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education.

Pumzi (2009)

Pumzi (2009)
Director:Wanuri Kahiu
Country: South Africa | Kenya
Runtime:21 min


Pumzi, Kenya’s first science fiction film, imagines a dystopian future 35 years after water wars have torn the world apart. East African survivors of the ecological devastation remain locked away in contained communities, but a young woman in possession of a germinating seed struggles against the governing council to bring the plant to Earth’s ruined surface.
Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu takes her sci-fi short <cite>Pumzi</cite> to Sundance this year.<br /><em>Photo: Chris King</em>
Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu takes her sci-fi short Pumzi to Sundance this year.
Photo: Chris King
The short film, which will compete in screen at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “started off as a small script about what kind of world we would have to be if we had to buy fresh air,” writer/director Wanuri Kahiu told Wired.com in a Skype interview.
Like recent standouts District 9 and Sleep Dealer, the short film taps into Third World realities and spins them forward for dramatic effect. But to produce Pumzi, Kahiu looked to the past, as well as the future.
She researched classic 1950s films to create her movie’s futuristic sets, comparing the processes of matte painting and rear-screen projection with indigenous African artwork.
“We already have a tradition of tapestries and functional art and things like that, that loan a backdrop for films,” Kahiu said.
Made with grant money from Focus Features’ Africa First short film program, the Goethe Institut and the Changamoto arts fund, Pumzi will share the screen with two other films as part of Sundance’s New African Cinema program.
Mentors from Focus Features introduced Kahiu to South African producers, including Simon Hansen, who worked with Neill Blomkamp on Alive in Joburg, the predecessor to last year’s sci-fi smash District 9. Kahiu said she hopes Blomkamp’s blockbuster will attract attention to other African films.

Kenya, frequently used for location shooting, boasts experienced crews but little funding. “You just hustle,” Kahiu said. “There is no set funding option. You borrow against banks, you do anything that you can to make your film.”
Distribution is another difficulty. While Kahiu hopes to offer Pumzi online, the Kenyan infrastructure is too underdeveloped to effectively distribute the film in her country. Meanwhile, directors in the country have been watching the prolific film community in neighboring Nigeria for inspiration.
Nollywood has its own distribution network and Kenya is slowly copying and picking up that very grass-roots distribution route,” Kahiu said.
Focus Features granted Kahiu complete control of her film. After producing commissions for African networks and retaining no rights, she helped create Dada Productions. Her first feature-length movie, From a Whisper, a dramatization built around the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, garnered five African Academy Movie Awards.
Kahiu’s future plans include expanding Pumzi to feature length as well as nurturing her local film community.
“I would like to work and build an industry, so that everyone walks away well-paid, with great hours,” Kahiu said. “Just a humane society, of sorts.”

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blood in the Mobile

Blood in the Mobile
 Director: Frank Piasechi Poulsen
country: Denmark
runtime: 82 minutes

A dramatic document about an impossible mission of the Danish documentary filmmaker, Frank Piasecki Poulsen, and his search for the carefully hidden dark secrets of the highly civilized Western society. A dynamic documentary style turns this film into a suspenseful thriller whose main character is the author himself. Extremely bravely, exposing himself to drastic risks and dangers, and with a surprising persistence, Frank Piasecki Poulsen follows the roads of the blood minerals that are the essential material for cell phone components. Unmasking hypocrisy of the leading European multinational companies, the author discovers a shocking mechanism of the contemporary society. Commercials, as representations of the ideal beauty, incessantly try to convince us that the modern hi-tech merchandise has been created in completely controlled processes that guarantee both environmental and our own safety. Aiming to awake our conscience and critical thinking, this film directly discovers that the situation is often drastically different. A magnificent example of complete devotion and commitment, this documentary takes us from one part of the world to another, from the most dangerous dark depths of Africa, to the highest pinnacles of the developed Europe.

Selector's word: I think about it every time I take my cell phone. It is a terrible thought. Provoked by this film that is such an achievement by the director. Courageous it is from the side of the director, to be admired, it is far beyond normal investigative journalism, it is made with a heart and a true indignation. Sometimes interviews, sometimes visually and emotionally stunning sequences when he goes down into hell.

Frank Piasecki Poulsen

Graduated at The National Film School of Denmark in 2001. Before entering the Film School he worked at a local TV network in Copenhagen. After graduation, he have been working as director, photographer and scriptwriter, primarily for DR TV. The themes of his work include youth, politics and third world issues. Therefore he has travelled all around the world – especially to Africa. Works on establishing a departmant for international documentary production in the production company “Koncern Film og TV A/S”.


DISOBEDIENCE.DK (Ulydighed.dk), 2002
SEDUCER'S FALL (Forforerens Fald), 2008
BLOOD IN THE MOBILE (Blod i Mobilen), 2010

Late Bloomers (2011)

Late Bloomers (2011)
 Director: Julie Gavras
 Country: France | Belgium 
Runtime:88 minutes

 This is the story of Adam and Mary, a man and a woman who are deeply in love whilst everything conspires to drive them apart. In spite of their feelings for one another, they are compelled to separate so that they can later come back together and form a harmonious couple. Contrary to what you might think, Adam and Mary are not your usual twenty or thirty somethings. They are pushing sixty and yet still have something to learn about life and love...

Friday, December 23, 2011

He Who Must Die (1957)

He Who Must Die (1957)
Dir: Jules Dassin
Country: France
Runtime: 122 min 

In the 1920s, with Greece is under Turkish occupation, the inhabitants of a small town are making preparations for the annual Passion play.  Manolios, a shepherd with a crippling stammer is cast as Jesus, whilst a prostitute is given the role of Mary Magdalene.  The town is visited by a convoy of refugees from a neighbouring village which was sacked by the Turks.  Fearing that any show of kindness towards these refugees will upset the delicate peace with the Turks, the town’s patriarch has them driven away.  The idealistic Manolios manages to convince some of the townspeople to have pity on the refugees, and one man, Michelis, allows them to stay on land inherited from his father.  Furious, the patriarch persuades his Turkish masters to deal with Manolios and his misguided followers…

 Celui qui doit mourir was the second film that director Jules Dassin made in France – after the influential noir masterpiece Du rififi chez les homes (1955).  At the time, Dassin was effectively forced into exile in Europe to escape anti-Communist persecution that was rampant across the United States in the 1950s.  Despite being one of his lesser known films, Celui qui doit mourir stands as one of Dassin’s most ambitious and humanist works – a powerful, intensely ironic retelling of the Gospel in 1920s Greece, based on novel “Christ Recrucified” by Nikos Kazantzakis.

The film features some notable actors of the period, including Jean Servais, Maurice Ronet and Gert Fröbe, as well as Dassin’s wife-to-be, Melina Mercouri.  However, it is Pierre Vaneck who is most memorable, as the sympathetic hero destined for the (metaphorical) crucifix.  Dassin combines his own natural film noir style with some shades of neo-realism, making this a pretty hard-edged, unsentimental morality drama (with a few suggestions of black comedy along the way).   The moral of the film is that human beings never learn and are destined to repeat the errors of the past, but there is also more than a hint of anti-Church mockery.  The film’s central irony – which Dassin draws out so well – is that it is those who are most familiar with the teachings of Christ who end up rejecting and then executing a second Christ.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Monk (2011) Le moine

The Monk (2011) Le moine
Director: Dominik Moll
Country: Spain | France
Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes

 A well respected monk, Capucino Ambrosio compromises himself with his carnal lust for a pupil, a woman disguised as a monk, she tempts the monk to transgress and he is soon found desiring another, the innocent Antonia. Matilda uses magic spells to help the monk in his pursuit of Antonia, whom he later rapes and kills. It later emerges that Matilda is an instrument of Satan in female form. Focus also is also shone on Antonia's previous relationship with Lorenzo, whose sister is tortured by hyprocritical nuns for her own relationship. Returning to Ambrosio, he is delivered to the Inquisition; escaping only by selling his soul to the devil. The devil prevents Ambrosio's final repentance, and informs Ambrosio that Antonia is the monk's sister.

Black Butterflies (2011)

Black Butterflies (2011)
Director: Paula van der Oest
Country: Germany | Netherlands | South Africa
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Ingrid Jonker lived an impossible contradiction, writing heart-rending poetry about being a woman of privilege living under apartheid rule, all the while dealing with pressure from the head of the censorship board, a man who also happened to be her father. “Black Butterflies” is the story of how Jonker, a woman with unending sexual cravings and a noted mental imbalance, managed to cope with this dichotomy. In the opening, the least poetic of a number of unconvincing metaphors writ large, Jonker is saved from drowning by handsome publisher Jack Cope, an older gentleman who immediately falls for the leggy writer. What he doesn’t know is that her self-abuse, due to living under the rule of her oppressive, emotionally-abusive father, has fractured her personality. She is not the creator she becomes when she puts pen to paper, but rather a little girl seeking stimulation (which she chases in a number of unavailable men) and hoping for the approval of her father (an impossibility).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Life, Above All (2010)

Life, Above All
Director: Oliver Schmitz
Country: South Africa
Runtime: 100 min

"Life, Above All" is a emotional and universal drama about a young girl (stunningly performed by first-time-actress Khomotso Manyaka) who fights the fear and shame that have poisoned her community. The film captures the enduring strength of loyalty and a courage powered by the heart. Directed by South African filmmaker Oliver Schmitz ("Mapantsula", "Paris, je t'aime"), it is based on the international award winning novel "Chanda's Secrets" by Allan Stratton. Written by Bavaria International  

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Day I Was Not Born (2010)

The Day I Was Not Born (2010)
Director:Florian Micoud Cossen
Country: Germany | Argentina

During a stopover in Buenos Aires on her way to Chile, 31-year-old Maria recognizes a nursery rhyme. Maria doesn't speak a work of Spanish, but without understanding what she is singing, she remembers the Spanish lyrics. Disturbed and thrown off course, she decides to interrupt her journey and wander through the unfamiliar city. On the phone to Germany, she tells her father, Anton, about her experience and the peculiar fascination the unfamiliar city has had for her. Two days later, Anton suddenly turns up at Maria's hotel with something to confess: Maria spent the first three years of her life in Buenos Aires during the military dictatorship at the end of the 1970s. The people she had always thought were her parents had adopted her and brought her to Germany. Father and daughter begin a journey in search of Maria's biological parents. Anton does everything he can not to lose his daughter.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Skin I Live In (2011)

The Skin I Live In (2011)
 Director: Pedro Almodóvar
 Country: Spain
 Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes

 Pedro Almodóvar's macabre suspense thriller is about an obsession that, though not exactly magnificent, has a fanatical intensity. Antonio Banderas plays a Madrid plastic surgeon, wealthy, cultured and respected; he gives brilliant lectures and research papers on advances in face-transplant surgery. Daringly, heretically, he advocates transgenic treatments from animals to toughen the skin. In his palatial home, he has a private operating theatre where he carries out experimental work on Vera, a beautiful woman he keeps prisoner, who is dressed only in a clinging gauzy, flesh-toned material and whose skin has an unnaturally smooth, flawless look. She appears to submit ecstatically to her imprisonment, but this is finally to be the cause of madness and violence. ~ Guardian

As in many of his films, family secrets are revealed through lengthy flashbacks – something forbidden to contemporary Hollywood screenwriters. There is the doppelganger motif, and the younger guy who likes partying and drugs; there are staircase scenes and scenes in which a middle-aged man watches the object of his desire, enraptured, on a large screen. And perhaps most startling, and most characteristic of all, there is Almodóvar's great theme of transsexual identity, which speaks of passion, fantasy and escape. The director himself, in various masks and guises, is present in all of this. ~ Guardian

Viva Riva! (2010)

Viva Riva! (2010)
Director: Djo Munga
Country:Democratic Republic of the Congo
Runtime: 98 min

 Riva is an operator, a man with charm and ambition in equal measure. Kinshasa is an inviting place. With petrol in short supply in DRC's capital, he and his sidekick pursue a plot to get hold of a secret cache - barrels of fuel they can sell for a huge profit. Of course they're not the only ones who want the stuff. Cesar is a ruthless, sharply dressed foreigner thriving in Kinshasa's lawless streets. A female military officer joins the fray. Even the church will betray its tenets for a piece of the action. But Riva's main nemesis is Azor, a crime boss in the classic style: big, decadent and brutal. He's not a man to mess with, but his girlfriend, Nora, may just be the most seductive woman in all of DRC. Riva catches sight of her dancing at a nightclub and it's not long before Nora matches the fuel cache as a coveted object of his lust. IMDB

Violeta (2011)

Violeta (2011)
Director: Andrés Wood
Country: Chile
Runtime:110 min

From the tent up in Regina, Violeta Parra is visited by dreams, experiences and dreams. It is alive, but perhaps she is dead, that opens up a great expectation in which we will gradually Informing their secrets, fears, frustrations and joys. Not only is this his various works, but, their lovers, their memories, their hopes, their achievements are suspended in a passionate journey through the life of Violeta Parra, with the characters that made her mourn, laugh and dream.

The Salt of Life (2011)

The Salt of Life (2011)
Director: Gianni Di Gregorio
Runtime:90 min

Gianni is sixty. He is retired but has not become lazy for all that. In fact he is a helpful fellow who gives a hand to all those who need one: shopping for his wife, walking the pretty neighbor's dog, and so on. Everybody likes Gianni, but is it for the right reasons? Doesn't his wife profit by the situation (she still works so it is only logical that Gianni do all the chores)? Isn't he subject to the excruciating whims of his rich mother?... Sure, everybody LIKES Gianni, but who LOVES him? Agreed, being kind to them, he is the ladies pet, but he does not attract them anymore. That is why, when his macho lawyer friend Alfonso blames him for not having young mistresses "like every other senior Italian male", Gianni, who is beginning to ask himself questions about what it is like to become old, starts chasing dames... Written by Guy Bellinger  

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Joanna (2010)

Joanna (2010)
Director: Feliks Falk
Country: Poland
Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Feliks Falk’s latest movie “Joanna” is a story set in the time of World War II. The main heroine’s husband had been sent to an Oflag. One day Joanna encounters a little Jewish girl in a church. Despite the risk, she decides to take care of her.

"Joanna" is an example of a true story as it reflects the behavior of thousands of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Feliks movie has enchanted the audience of 35. Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. Tadeusz Sobolewski, a film critic, gave the movie a very positive review. That is what he wrote for Gazeta Wyborcza:

Falks “Joanna” distinguishes itself with a classic structure of the plot, the main idea of which is a trap set for the main character by the fate. This movie, which takes place in Cracow, brings an uncommon element into the Polish cinema — it shows a “make-believe” life during the occupation, a life which is outwardly normal. All the positions in the General Government are filled with Poles. The main character Joanna (Urszula Grabowska), waiting in vain for a letter from her husband who is in an Oflag, gives a shelter to a little Jewish girl whose mother was caught during a round-up. Thus she becomes burdened with a secret she cannot reveal to anyone, even to her relatives. Forced by necessity, she has to cooperate with her enemies, becoming a traitor in the eyes of “her people” — just like the heroine of Has’s memorable movie “How to Be Loved”. The final, symbolic image is suggestive — in a tearful and religious manner — of the fact that sheltering little Róża was Joanna’s personal torture referring to Golgotha. However, the deeper meaning of that story is perverse and bitter: hiding the child was even more dangerous because of Joanna’s “own people”, mutually controlling the patriotic decency.