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European Film Awards 2007

The Discovery Award Nominees

As part of the European Film Awards, the category "European Discovery" is presented to a young and upcoming director for a first full-length feature film. The nominations were determined by a committee comprised of FIPRESCI (the International Federation of Film Critics) members Jacob Neiiendam (Denmark), Marco Lombardi (Italy) and Dana Linssen (the Netherlands), and EFA Board members Pierre-Henri Deleau (France) and Stefan Laudyn (Poland).

Introduction arrow.
The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-tizmoret) by Eran Kolirin, Israel arrow.
Control by Anton Corbijn, UK arrow.
Counterparts (Gegenüber) by Ja Bonny, Germany arrow.
Takva — A Man's Fear of God by Özer Kiziltan, Turkey/Germany arrow.


The New Lies in the Past

Some years ago, selecting first feature films meant watching experimental works, looking for something completely new able to revolutionize languages and techniques. Now, selecting first feature films means rediscovering the very past of the cinema, that is genres and classics. Especially in Europe.
    The four films we've chosen give evidence of that: they play going back to the beginning, telling simple stories, filmmaking without special effects, trying to get into real contact with the audience. We could say that only the best lies in the past, but it'd be untrue: the great majority of the films we've seen for EFA Discovery, as well the great majority of European films I've seen making the Critic's Week selection for the Venice Film Festival, try to find the new looking at the past. It seems as young directors felt that cinema has reached its end of the line, and that the only way to find something really new is going back to cinema sources, making up again genres and classics.
    Drama, comedy and surrealism, that are in fact our three films main ingredients. Nothing new, but ... each of them is revised, so that the final result is the old with some fresh flavors inside. Will they be the seeds for a permanent cinema renaissance? Perhaps yes, as looking for extreme language limits has often got cinema to produce sterile results. — Marco Lombardi


The Band's Visit.The Band's Visit
Eran Kolirin, Israel

Luckily, humor can be an appropriate way of dealing with a subject as serious as the relationship between Arabs and Israelis. And, as Eran Kolirin demonstrates in his charming and underplayed feature debut, humor is maybe exactly what is needed. When Alexandria's Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives in Israel, with its musicians dressed in eye-catching blue uniforms, nobody comes to pick them up at the airport. The rule-abiding and melancholic orchestra leader Tawfiq (Sasson Gabai) won't let himself be defeated, and soon they are aboard a bus heading for the town they are meant to play in. But the town they end up in is not much of a town. Nor is it the right one. Without any money or any other buses to catch, the orchestra is stranded, and the disagreements between Tawfiq and the young Khaled (Saleh Bakri) are threatening to flare up. Khaled, a violinist, would prefer to play jazz rather than classical music. Luckily, the town's café-owner Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), a liberal and enterprising woman, quickly finds accommodation for the musicians throughout the town. It ends up being a memorable night for both the Egyptians and the Israelis, who end up knowing more about each other and about themselves. The screenplay strikes a wonderful balance between wit and seriousness, and Kolirin's humor bears comparison with Jim Jarmusch's films. Visually, the film is inventive and confident, but it is the actors in particular who make the film a memorable viewing experience. — Jacob Neiiendam


Control.Control
Anton Corbijn, UK

'She's Lost Control' was always one of the more meaningful songs of the Manchester eighties indie post-punk new wave band Joy Division who only made two albums and a handful of singles before 23-year-old lead singer Ian Curtis took his life in 1980, on the eve of a US tour. It's a haunting tune, particularly the mesmerizing chanting of the chorus "She's lost control again". The way the tarnished drum sound emphasizes the "again" again and again as to tragically underline the Sisyphus-life the song's protagonist was caught in and the painful certainty that the 'she' was actually a 'he': songwriter Ian Curtis himself, trapped in a life of doom.
    By choosing Control as the title of his first feature photographer and music video director Anton Corbijn (born in Strijen, The Netherlands, in 1955) explores and expands the meaning of the way we keep control of our lives and our memories. Corbijn was an avid fan when he went to England to photograph Joy Division and all of a sudden found himself responsible for the band's iconography. The picture he took of the musicians in a London tube tunnel, all of them seen on the back, with Ian Curtis stealthy looking over his shoulder, became an emblem for the No Future-generation, and, as history is always cynical, the launch of his own career as a photographer. Corbijn pictures his recollections of the band in the same saturated black and white as this famous photograph.
    Lead actor Sam Riley bears an uncanny resemblance to Ian Curtis and, although the script is based on the memoirs of Curtis' wife Debbie (an enchanting Samantha Morton), Control succeeds in transcending the personal petit histoire of marital pain and infidelity. As to be expected from Corbijn's work, the film, which had its world premiere as the opening film of the Quinzaine des réalisateurs at this year's Cannes Film Festival and will be released theatrically in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, the UK and the US later this fall, is hugely stylized. Every picture tells a story. Despite the emotional impact of the film and the painful depiction of a life that burned out untimely, one could only wonder what would have happened if director Anton Corbijn had dared to lose control, if only just a little, and release his memories in a less strained manner. The moments he indeed loosens up, and has the movie camera simply observe and be prepared as he the photographer once did, is proof that the mere passage of time bears enough sadness to engage the spectator in a tale that is equally tragic and beautiful. — Dana Linssen


Counterparts.Counterparts
Jan Bonny, Germany

Georg, a policeman and Anne, a teacher, are seen as the closest thing you can get to being the perfect couple. However, the beautiful facade conceals a troubled relationship, which is marked by both physical and psychological violence. One moment, Anne can be loving and caring, the next she is a self-pitying psychopath who regards her husband as a loser who should be put in his place. Jan Bonny's drama portrays the turbulent marriage through black, yet witty sequences of Georg and Anne's battles. But it also shows the pitfalls of wanting to live up to other people's definitions of a successful life. Waiting in the wings are two grown-up children, whose upbringing has been marked by their parents' marital battles. Counterparts is an exciting feature debut with a flair for psychological drama, and Victoria Trautmansdorff delivers an impressive performance as the disturbing wife. — Jacob Neiiendam


Takva.Takva — A Man's Fear of God
Özer Kiziltan, Turkey/Germany

It is no coincidence that Takva has been the darling of many festivals and reviewers since its premiere in Toronto last year. Özer Kiziltan's authentic portrait of Takva, a religious Muslim who is tempted by base mammon and worldly prestige, is a fascinating and subtle masterpiece. As an added bonus, the film offers a close-up look at everyday Islamic life. The simple-minded but religious Takva has disturbing dreams about women, and his desires get even more inflamed when he is promoted to treasurer at the Koran school. He suddenly rises through the ranks of local society and becomes an important man, even though he is little more than a pawn in the Imam's game. But pride comes before a fall, and Takva is thrown into the worst spiritual crisis of his life. Takva is not so much about religion and fanaticism as it is about a man and his faith. Fatih Akin (director of Head On) is co-producer of the film. — Jacob Neiiendam

All texts © FIPRESCI 2007

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