Stratos Tzitzis – 45m2 (2010)

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Christina is a good looking 23 year-old girl from a working-class family. She works as a sales assistant in a classy hand-bag emporium, and belongs to what the Greeks call “the 700 euros generation” – the young people who work for the minimum wage and live with their parents, because they can’t afford to move out. But Christina has enough of that. She decides to rent a place of her own where she can find herself away from her mother’s watchful gaze. Overstretching herself financially, she moves into a 45m2 flat: the rent’s a bargain because the area’s full of foreigners. A foreigner in their midst, she takes her first steps towards freedom. Continue reading

Donatello Dubini – Die Reise Nach Kafiristan AKA The Journey to Kafiristan (2001)

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In 1939, the author Annemarie Schwarzenbach and ethnologist Ella Maillart travel together by car to Kabul, but each is in pursuit of her own project. Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who was among Erika and Klaus Mann’s circle of friends in the 30’s, is searching for a place of refuge in the Near East to discover her own self. Ella Maillart justifies her restlessness, her need for movement and travel, with a scientific pretext: she would like to explore the mysterious Kafiristan Valley and “make a name” for herself with publications on the archaic life of the nomads living there. Both women are on the run, but political developments and their own biographies catch up with them again and again. Their mutual journey through the outside world, which runs from Geneva via the Balkans and Turkey to Persia, is compounded by the inner world of emotions with a tender love story. As both women arrive in Kabul, the Second World War breaks out and puts an end to their plans.
Une Suisse rebelle, Annemarie Schwarzenbach 1908-1942 Continue reading

Oliver Schmitz – Life, Above All (2010)

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Strong narrative drive and a lived-in sense of community distinguish “Life, Above All,” helmer Oliver Schmitz’s traditional but emotionally rich adaptation of Allan Stratton’s novel “Chanda’s Secrets.” A forceful account of a courageous 12-year-old fighting small-minded prejudice in her South African village, well-made pic maintains a tight enough focus on its heroine to avoid becoming a topical tract on the issues it grapples with, namely the AIDS epidemic, infant mortality and child prostitution. Positive critical response should give this Un Certain Regard hit a strong shot at offshore play. Continue reading

Mircea Daneliuc – Legiunea straina aka The Foreign Legion (2008)

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Plot / Synopsis

For many years, three Romanian village boys, Stelica, Aurel and Mitu, have remained the closest of friends. In their youths, they planned to pursue careers as shepherds, but in time their individual paths diverged – leading Mitu into the military, Stelica into the local police force and Aurel into the employ of Maricel, a wealthy resident of the community. The men’s worlds change forever when a newcomer arrives in the hamlet – a young woman named Lilica, accompanied by Maricel. She’s toting two trucks full of Dutch chickens with her, which inadvertently spreads the bird flu to much of the local populace. The boys, however, soon realize how they can ingeniously turn this potential crisis into a solid profit-making venture for themselves. Continue reading

Götz Spielmann – Antares (2004) (DVD)

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Quote:
A housing development on the outskirts of a big city, common, ubiquitous – high-rise apartment complexes, lots of concrete, sparse plots of perfunctory green. Graffiti-scrawled entryways, intercoms, long stairwells, thousands of faceless windows. From out of this uniform coexistence three couples emerge whose lives intersect over the course of three days and will never be the same again. Continue reading

Jordi Cadena & Judith Colell – Elisa K (2010)

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At eleven, everything in Elisa’s life will lose its innocence. One day whilst her father is asleep and her brother is on a swing outside, her father’s friend will rape her, as she cries he tells her if she stops he’ll give her a silver bracelet. It’s from that moment on she will forget what happened to her for a very long time.

Fourteen years and four months later she remembers. Scared, she calls her mum, “Help me, I’ve remembered something terrible.” Breaking many rules of cinema and featuring unconventional narration throughout, Eliza K is a heartbreaking story that asks the question of how this young woman will carry on with her life. Continue reading

Antoinette Beumer – De gelukkige huisvrouw AKA The Happy Housewife (2010)

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ferdyonfilms.com wrote:
CIFF 2010: The Happy Housewife (De gelukkige huisvrouw, 2010)

Director: Antoinette Beumer

2010 Chicago International Film Festival

By Marilyn Ferdinand

“I hate actors,” the cinephile said to me after a screening of a personal essay film that had no actors in it at all. I vaguely understood what he was saying, that actors are tricksters whose presence can take away from the sincerity of a film. As someone who treasures the films of Robert Bresson, the Neorealists, the Nouvelle Vague directors, as well as a slew of more contemporary films that use nonprofessionals, I find the unstudied spontaneity of the performances helps me appreciate the film as a whole rather than focusing on the accomplishments of a single performer. Continue reading