Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd – Le cercle des noyés (2007)


The word protected, the words embodied

Essay from the booklet:
This film was born out of the encounter with a man, Fara Bâ. He wanted to testify in order not to forget those who were political prisoners at the fort of Ouatala ten years before, for having opposed the racial segregation they suffered as black people. Many of his companions died there. It is the testimonies of these former prisoners, those who survived prison, which Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd is going to collect over a ten-year period, without any camera. When it became necessary to make a film out of this, upon the request of Fara Bâ, only the words mattered. The film was to be constructed on the narrative of these years of detention, a narrative co-written with the film-maker on the basis of the testimonies of the group of survivors. Fara Ba is their spokesperson. His voice is the one which tells and it overshadows that of the film-maker whose presence vanishes for the duration of a film. The starting point is this encounter and not an intention or vision of the film-maker. The necessity of tt1e film does not come from him at first. The images are claimed by the narrative, told by the man’s voice, “spokesvoice” for his companions. Read More »

Waldemar Januszczak – The Happy Dictator (2007)

Deep in the heart of Central Asia lies one of the world’s most secretive countries – Turkmenistan. Run by a crazy dictator whose megalomania has spawned a personality cult to rival that of Chairman Mao, this unlikely desert republic has earned itself a grim reputation as “the North Korea of Central Asia.” But since no one is usually allowed in or out, the truth about Turkmenistan is impossible to separate from the rumours and the legends. Until now.

Posing as a tourist who has come to Turkmenistan for a stag weekend, Waldemar Januszczak goes undercover in this bizarre and sinister country to separate the facts from the fiction. And he’s taken his camera with him… Read More »

Nacer Khemir – Bab’Aziz (2005)


Bab’Aziz, AKA The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul, is the story of a blind dervish named Bab’Aziz and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every thirty years. With faith as their only guide, the two journey for days through the expansive, barren landscape. To keep Ishtar entertained, Bab’Aziz relays the ancient tale of a prince who relinquished his realm in order to remain next to a small pool in the desert, staring into its depths while contemplating his soul. As the tale of the prince unfolds, the two encounter other travelers with stories of their own, including Osman, who longs for the beautiful woman he met at the bottom of a well, and Zaid, who searches for the ravishing young woman who fled from him after being seduced by his songs. A fairytale-like story of longing and belonging, filmed in the enchanting and ever-shifting sandscapes of Tunisia and Iran. Read More »

Daniele Luchetti – La nostra vita AKA Our Life (2010)


Claudio is a blue-collar builder, almost blissfully happy with his ordinary family life, with his wife and two children. Then, tragedy strikes and Claudio sets off on an obsessive quest to become rich and successful by taking on an almost impossible-to-complete contract to construct an apartment block in record time. Claudio uses all his own, his friend’s and his family’s resources to try and succeed, while in fact coming closer and closer to disaster and ruin. Anchored by an intense and very impressive performance by Elio Germano (Romanze Criminale, Quo Vadis Baby) as Claudio, Our Life is a gritty, yet warm and human story. Almost like an Italian Ken Loach, director Daniele Luchetti depicts authentically working class life in Italy and the struggles of one man to rise above the corruption and compromises that beset him. Following on from Luchetti’s acclaimed previous film My Brother is an Only Child (premiered at LFF 2007) this is another arresting film; powerfully emotive, cinematic and satisfying. —BFI

Cannes Film Festival 2010: Best Actor (Elio Germano, ex-aequo)
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Koji Wakamatsu – 17-sai no fukei – shonen wa nani o mita no ka AKA Cycling Chronicles: Landscapes the Boy saw (2004)


Kôji Wakamatsu’s Cycling Chronicles: Landscapes the Boy Saw (17-sai no fûkei – shônen wa nani o mita no ka) – a.k.a. “Cycle Chronicles – Landscapes the Boy Saw” and “17 and Life” – is scheduled to have its U.S. première at the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) on April 27th at 8:45 p.m., and to subsequently be screened there on May 2nd at 6:00 p.m.. As was previously reported here and there on Twitch, the movie was screened at Regional Film Festival (Rîjonaru Firumu Fesutibaru) – “RiFF” for short – on October 31, 2004, and at the 26th PIA Film Festival in Sendai (Dai-26-kai Pia Firumu Fesutibaru in Sendai) – “PFF Sendai” for short – on November 23, 2004. It was released theatrically in Japan by Toshiki Shima’s Shima Films on July 30th of last year. Read More »

Dominik Graf – Die Freunde der Freunde aka The Friend of Friends (2002)


stefflbw wrote:
Set in the boarding school milieu, the film depicts the meeting of shy Gregor and mysterious Billie. Billie has a son, her husband is in jail. Arthur, Gregor’s friend, is a serial Lothario, forever unfaithful to his girlfriend Pia. Both Arthur and Billie have had a similar mystical experience related to someone’s death. While Gregor believes that an elective affinity between two people preordains their lives, Arthur does not even subscribe to romantic feelings between the sexes.
Arthur is a failure at school and becomes mixed up with criminal elements, Gregor goes on to attend university, and remains in pursuit of Billie who passes in and out of his life on several occasions. Read More »

Byambasuren Davaa – Die Höhle des gelben Hundes AKA The Cave of the Yellow Dog [+Extras] (2005)



Movie Plot:
The little nomad girl Nansal finds a baby dog in the mongolian veld, who becomes her best friend – against all rejections of her parents. Only as the little dog, Zocher, saves the life of the youngest son, father and mother finally see his good soul. A story about a mongolian family of nomads – their traditional way of life and the rising call of the City.
From the director of The Story of the Weeping Camel comes another captivatingly beautiful story of nomadic family life in the endless expanse of the Mongolian landscape. Read More »