30th Fribourg International Filmfestival

Switzerland, March 11 - March 19 2016

The jury

Eithne O'Neill (France), Djia Mambu (Belgium), Irene Genhart (Switzerland)

Awarded films

For its 30th time round, the International Film Festival in Fribourg in 2016 proves a fitting follow-up to International Women’s Day, March 8th. Thierry Jobin, the Festival’s artistic director who took over from Edouard Waintrop in 2012, has opted for the general theme of Women. Backed up by 25 years of experience as film critic, notably on Geneva’s prestigious Le Temps, Jobin’s taste informed the programme. Thanks also to the Festival’s administrative director, Giovanna Python, the aim has been achieved of broadening the cosmopolitan dimension of the Festival in the historic capital of the canton of Fribourg. By the same token, this celebration of cinema is an effective incentive for Swiss national film production and the participation of the young.

A dynamic Swiss female singing trio called the “Nords” gave the Festival an original send-off using a droll language of their invention, appropriate for this polyglot land. Geraldine Chaplin and Jane Campion, those stars of the 7th art, addressed the audience through video film. Among the personalities present was Alain Berset, of Federal Home Affairs, whose tongue-in-cheek wit heralded the Festival’s opening film, the 1921 classic, The Kid. Chaplin’s luscious melodramatic film score was lavishly executed by the Fribourg chamber orchestra.

Within easy walking distance, two film theatres, one a multiplex, are the pleasant venues for the screenings of 26 films from 62 different countries. Of the thirteen entries in the international feature films competition, nine of them first features, three were from Latin America, two from Asia and the others spread over the Ukraine, Nepal, Iran, with Dutch-Lebanese-Qatar co-productions. Seven overwhelmingly female juries deliberated. The Grand Prix of the Regard d’Or, together with 30000 CH, was awarded to Mountain by Yaelle Kayama, a woman-director, simultaneously the winner of the Don Quijote award of the International Federation of Cine-Clubs (FICC). The FIPRESCI prize went to Eva Neymann from the Ukrainefor her lovely Song of Songs. From Mexico, Alejandra Márquez Abella’s Semana Santa was singled out for the international jury’s special prize. Thus were the talents of the three young women directors recognized. Side cultural events included an exhibition honouring François Truffaut. A tribute to Ida Lupino gave film buffs the opportunity to catch up with some of this gifted woman’s lesser known work.

Beautifully located with stylish pedestrian areas, Fribourg provides an ideal framework for those attending an international film festival. The Museum of Fine Art and History with a mediaeval section affords an insight to the long-standing prosperity of the region is a stone’s throw from the Yves Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle Museum. Delights for all, especially those interested in women artists. A guided mini-tour of the monuments for the jurors ending with the splendid Gothic cathedral of St. Nicholas triggers cultural exchange. A Vietnamese lady juror is intrigued by the dramatic details of the Art Nouveau windows by the Polish artist Jozef Mehoffer. In his «Martyrdom of St.Maurice», a woman nestles up to comfort the man whose head is being severed. Such a graphic display of the closeness of Eros and Thanatos points  to the burgeoning 7th art. In the real life of the festival canteen, filmmakers; actors and actresses, producers and journalists and the large team of efficient volunteers, rub shoulders underneath a mobile made of film stills, photographed female portraits, dolls heads, and feminine artefacts: This work flashes on screen before each film as FIFF’s latest signature tune. What treasures will next year’s Festival bring to the film-goer? (Eithne O’Neill)

Fribourg International Filmfestival: www.fiff.ch