Festival Seminci 2018: Our 10 favorites
The Grand Prize of the Jury as well as the Audience Award at the last Sundance Festival, the Best Film of the recent Locarno Festival, the winner of Un Certain Regard at the last Cannes Festival, the most likely next Goya for Best Documentary or the new by Matteo Garrone and Denys Arcand . This is how well the 63rd edition of Seminci is already beginning. The Valladolid Festival opens tomorrow, Saturday, October 20, its doors. We open our mouths with our 10 favorites , we live it at a distance with our exclusive channel dedicated to the pucelano contest. Thereto.
1. BORDER by Ali Abbasi
The head of “Shelley” adapts a novel by the author of “Let me in”, John Ajvide Lindqvist, under the script of the director of “Holiday”, Isabella Ëklof. Final result, Best Film in Un Certain Regard of the last Cannes Festival. It is the irrefutable letter of introduction of the imposing “Border”, a sinister fairy tale that transits multiple parallel universes in which disturbingly converge social chronicle, grotesque comedy, criminal thriller, horror, folklore and even an unclassifiable love-story of which leads to what could well be the best sex sequence of the year. And the most surprising of all is that despite playing so many different clubs, he has the difficult task of making everything fit, that everything fits. Much covers, and much squeezes. It’s the exception that confirms the rule. Nothing of what happens in “Border” is capricious or gratuitous for more than with so many twists and fusion of different themes and concepts could well run the risk of ending up being so. His is a complex gear whose destiny is none other than to embark the spectator to the confines of the human, where the monstrosity collides frontally with existence. Little more I want to reveal about a work of which, the less information I have of it, the better. The surprise will be even greater.
2. THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST by Desiree Akhavan
In short, the best film of the last Sundance Festival. Desiree Akhavan was put on the map with her brazen debut “Appropiate Bahaviour,” an autobiographical comedy that dealt with the identity crisis and pivoted on a bisexual young American-American woman in a disconnected hipster setting in Brooklyn. An acid and sexually sincere portrait of the disintegration of a relationship that brought with it the names Lena Dunham, Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach or Judd Apatow as suggestive references and which will now continue with “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”, adaptation of the novel by Emily M. Danforth starring Chloë Grace Moretz that tells the story of a young girl who is forced to attend a therapy center to convert homosexuals.
3. THE SILENCE OF OTHERS by Almudena Carrecedo and Robert Bahar
“The silence of others” reflects the first attempt in 77 years to prosecute the crimes of the 40 years of Spanish dictatorship under the regime of General Franco (1939-1975). A journey in time propelled by the forced search to recover our historical memory. An atrocious past marked by the devastating and inhuman dictatorship of Franco, but also by the hopeful aura of light that illuminated those who staged that supposedly key stage for the democracy of our country that supposed the Transition. And we say ‘supposedly’ because the light with which this historical stage illuminated us is still tinged with shadows. Memory versus oblivion. Half a century later, this is still the great social conflict of a country, ours, whose deep wounds are far from healed, however much they try to ignore and ignore.
The amnesty law introduced in 1977 in Spain included the pardon of political prisoners, as well as a broad spectrum of crimes that included political acts, rebellion, sedition and denial of aid committed before December 15, 1976. Implementation in the midst of transition to democracy, its objective was not intended to be other than to open the way for regeneration. Big mistake. 35 years later, as is perfectly understandable, the relatives of the victims whose remains were never found, the mothers whose children were stolen by the regime as soon as they were born, or the direct victims who were deprived of their freedom to suffer all kinds of torture and humiliation, far from being able to forget. Basically because their executioners are still free and unpunished, because many of the streets they travel (or even where they live) continue to pay tribute to the names of those vile murderers and criminals. The same goes for a large part of the monuments that we find throughout Spain, taking its ineffable summit in the Valley of the Fallen.
And it is precisely in this process of delayed search for justice that embarks on this moving documentary that in turn is painful, which focuses on the international lawsuit filed by the survivors of the Francoist crimes through a conscientious assembly of archive images and overwhelming interviews of several of its involuntary protagonists, in this case victims whose trauma they are far from reconciling thanks to the ambiguities of a country whose conservative and fascist idiosyncrasy is still in full force, however sly it may pretend to be. It is true that nothing new discover us “The Silence of Others” for those who live in Spain. It is not the case, however, if we look at the rest of Europe, because what Almudena Carrecedo and Robert Bahar decisively uncover is the true face of a country far from being that progressive nation with which it is intended to show the rest of the world . It is Spain without a mask, the Spain that hides its head under the wing far from facing the problem. Basically because it does not matter. Let all Europe see it and above all, let it know.
4. A LAND IMAGINED by Siew Hua Yeo
Among industrial areas of Singapore, Lok, a police detective, is tasked with finding Wang, a missing immigrant worker who has suffered a work-related accident and is worried about his repatriation. Winner of the Golden Leopard in the past Locarno Festival, “A Land Imagined” is defined as an exotic show of Asian noir, an excellent detective thriller about the existence of parallel realities and identities that takes the form of a Lynchian nightmare and that in a certain way evokes the cinema of Nicolas Winding Refn.
5. THE GUILTY
Phenomenon in sight. Winner of the Audience Award at the last Sundance Festival and selected by Denmark as representative in the Oscar race, “The Guilty” has been compared with “Buried” by Rodrigo Cortés, and has also become the summer revelation film on the French card, getting to stay throughout the summer season in the highest positions of the Box office. Confined to practically a single space, Gustav Möller’s film follows a night shift by Asger Holm, a former police officer who has been suspended from his duties and relegated to an emergency service operator. A call from a woman who has been abducted leads her to face not only the rush of events related to the crime, but also her own personal demons.
It is the film that marks the return to the origins of Matteo Garrone, “El Taxidermista” (2002) and “Primo Amore” . “Dogman” takes us to the periphery of Rome in the late 80s, where the law of the jungle prevails, where honor and money are the only things that count and where drugs and violence are the only problems. And he does it to move the real case of Pietro De Negri a dog hairdresser who murdered an ex-amateur boxer named Giancarlo Ricci, a petty criminal Under the influence of cocaine, De Negri tortured Ricci for seven hours until take his life, becoming one of the most atrocious murders in the history of Italy after the war. A real fact that Matteo Garrone takes to his very personal terrain, to the harsh hyperrealism, to the outstanding photographic and scenic work by which his gloomy original cinema is distinguished. “Dogman” could well be interpreted as a black social chronicle of Italy, a moral tale, a kind of suburban western that among other things tells us about the loss of innocence or rather, the impossibility of maintaining it. A real fable that comes to suggest that Italy today is not a country for loyalists. In fact, it is the figure of the dog, the unconditional loyalty that he professes towards his master and owner, the metaphorical essence that governs the toxic relationship between Marcello and Simone. In spite of the constant problems and conflicts that Simone causes Marcello, he follows him and protects him. There is something that pushes him to always stay by his side no matter how much it hurts him. A strange bond of attraction and friendship that ends up exploding in a brutal revenge, although the use of violence in this case is more contained and suggested than explicit as one might expect. The nobility is broken, the fidelity dilapidated. Precisely as it happens with the common bond that should unite politics with society. That’s how it goes.
7. THE WOMAN OF THE MOUNTAIN (WOMAN AT WAR) by Benedikt Erlingsson
The Icelandic Benedikt Erlingsson won the New Directors Award in San Sebastian with “Of Horses and Men” , an incalsificablemente Martian western, as absurd as singular and unique, whose place should not be a parallel section as much as Official Section. We speak of a deliriously choral comedy, of a character as autochthonous as cinematographically particular, that draws us a landscape so outlandish as a town full of horses, portraying to its wild and irreverent way the relationship between trotters and humans. And it does galloping to the rhythm of a hilarious deadpan humor, of abrupt blows of violence, of a bizarre romanticism and wrapped in an imposing and sensorial form device. In short, one of those looks that by themselves alone reason our presence in a festival. With his second film, “A woman at war,” he tells us the story of Halla, who, in his nearly fifty years, declares war on the local aluminum industry, which is disfiguring his country. A war that brings us topics of raging news, such as environmentalism, and other universal and timeless, such as motherhood or the power of large corporations. “The woman of the mountain (Woman At War)” is a vibrant film in a spectacular natural environment, full of action and with a strong and charismatic main character.
8. THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE of Denys Arcand
Thematic successor of the films of his predecessors “The decline of the American Empire” and “The Barbarian Invasions” , “The Fall of the American Empire” focuses on a young man whose life changes when he finds two bags of cash after an armed robbery. The new film by Denys Arcand acquires an ingenious and at the same time moving look, as only he is capable of doing, in a society where money is the most important thing and where the rest of the values seem to have collapsed.
9. GÈNESE by Philippe Lèsage
Who we do Filmin we surrendered to the Canadian filmmaker Philippe Lesage since the Festival of San Sebastian 2015 broke with “The Demons” , one of the most disturbing films of recent times. Brave and exquisite study on child psychology and the demons that haunt him that leaves no puppet with his head. In the case of “Gènese”, Lesage returns to incur an autobiographical story that concerns the youth, in which Guillaume, his stepsister Charlotte and Felix experience the turbulence of the first love. Exciting and heartbreaking in equal parts, it was one of the star titles of the past Locarno Festival.
10. UTOYA, JULY 22 , Erik Poppe
After his nomination for the 2017 Oscar for “The King’s Decision” , the Norwegian director Erik Poppe tackles with “Utoya, July 22” one of the most fatal episodes in the recent history of Europe: the massacre perpetrated at the hands of the young man of extreme right Anders Behring Breivik on the island of Utøya on July 22, 2011 that caused 77 victims and more than a hundred injured, both psychological and physical. We travel to the bottom of a massacre. “Utoya, July 22” is shot in a single shot sequence and in real time. The camera follows minute by minute the young Kaja in her eagerness to survive, also embarking on the search for her sister while crossing with other young people with different strategies to survive. Some do it, others do not. The presence of the perpetrator is perceived by the constant sound of the shots, distant at first, but then closer and closer, while the attacks that cause the deaths never occupy the plane. That is, the presence of the person responsible for the killing is constantly outside the field and we only see its appearance in the background of the painting in some scene. Laudable and accurate decisions that clearly reflect what Poppe really cares about. His leitmotiv is not so much to penetrate the reasons that led a 34-year-old to perpetrate this massacre, as to make us share in the panic and confusion to which these young people were exposed during the critical 72 minutes of the terrorist attack. A state of shock and a situation of extreme vulnerability that is excessively lethargic due to the police and government inoperativeness of a country that at that time was tied up and blocked by the attacks that took place hours earlier in the government buildings. And it is precisely here where the director of “The King’s decision” puts his finger on the wound.
The one that “Utoya, July 22” moves us is a risky staging as coherent cinematographically speaking, morally and ethically pertinent, which, however, also synthesizes some stria that could well be open to debate. As it is the case of attending in the very first close-up to the agonizing death of a teenager. Necessary or avoidable? A possible mole that does not prevent us from being faced with a proposal as risky as necessary that embarks the viewer in a distressing experience at all levels. The past returns. Let no one forget it.