15th Cinéma Tous Ecrans
Switzerland, November 2 - November 8 2009
In mid autumn – a day after All Saints’ Day and still spreading the pumpkin odor of Halloween – Geneva seduced me to a festival. Smiling ambiguously behind the carnival mask, luring to its pathological, passionate selections, beginning with the French La Tueuse and ending with Belgian Menteur. Tom Geens’ debut, Menteur, is about a young man, frustrated by his father’s authority, which manages to redeem his complexities in the most Freudian manner, but also a most unfortunately boring one as well. And La Teuese is just a virtual pseudonym – “Lady Killer” – hiding behind a gambling-obsessed young mother who surprisingly quits her obsession, double crosses her own double-crossing partner and manages to fly away with her child by train.
The best thing about those two films is something not belonging to them. They were among the few films in the selection that did not include murder in their plot – never mind their teaser titles. Otherwise the selection was uniformly orientated around “death at the end”, usually with children as killer protagonists; even more thrilling when killing their parents. This brand of family tragedy was in most of the films and even festival director Leo Kaneman specifically stressed that this was not the intention in the selection criteria. The audiences loved the films, with all the six festival venues thronged at all screenings. Even while at the same time across Geneva other theaters were showing some of the current world blockbusters, the festival firmly established itself as the hit of the season.
The film buffs were granted their gusto by the Serbian/American/German co-production Here and There (Tamo i Ovde). The film pleased the audience, the connoisseurs, and the FIPRESCI jury. The simple, but fetching story of a fictitious marriage turning into a passionate love affair made a resounding impact with the audience, feeling the romance of the vibrations between the two shores of the Atlantic. In the silver screen emotions game “there” can turn up “here” or everywhere in case there are people sharing passions. Here and There was unanimously awarded the FIPRESCI prize. The Grand Jury awarded the Best Director prize to the film’s director, Darko Lungulov. The third and final prize for Here and There was the stimulus package for distribution. Here and There received more prize money than the film that received the Grand Prix of the festival, Lost Persons Area, directed by Caroline Strubbe – a Belgium/Netherlands/-Hungary/Germany/France co-production.
Those two films collected most of the festival awards for the feature film selection. And for good reason – they were fresh, emotional and unpredictable, unlike most of the other films in the selection. The monotonously repeating finales of nearly a dozen of the presented movies turned the predictability into as obsession. The imposing of blood soaked finales juxtaposed as happy endings for the juvenile delinquents was morally crippling and abusive. The ambitious Swiss entry Déchaînées, directed by Raymond Vouillamoz, and with Irène Jacob as one of three generations of female parts, was predictably awarded for female lead performance played by a young debutant, Adèle Haenel.
The positive side of the festival selection is that it reflects the actual trials and tribulations of the contemporary humans shown vividly through the most vibrant of the human relations – the family. In this respect it is but natural that the festival is so popular with young moviegoers and gives them the opportunity to discover new dimensions of sense, sensibility and, perhaps, reason. (Edited by Glenn Dunks)