39th Molodist International Film Festival

Ukraine, October 24 - October 31 2009

The jury

Bálint Szalóky (Hungary), Arthur Werner (Germany), Oleksandr Shpilyk (Ukraine)

Awarded films

The Kyiv movie theatre has a solemn past: the construction was started before the Second World War but was not finished until 1952. The recently renovated theater hosts the illustrious Molodist film festival which concentrates mostly on young filmmakers.        

Despite the fact that the festival will soon celebrate its upcoming jubilee, it had to manage with a truncated budget. However, this did not affect the film selection at all, only the palatial side of the festival suffered minor cutbacks.              

Shining international stars still attract attention from the festival’s lustrous historical background: Catherine Deneuve and the local celebrity Olga Kurylenko made an appearance at the grand opening, Jean-Claude Van Damme was the guest at the closing ceremony. However this is not a true disadvantage in the case of a festival which focuses on student films and short films.            

The 13 movies that competed in the feature film category presented a wide mixture of origins and standards. The only Ukrainian contender was included in the program because someone had to represent the country. Nothing else could explain the zombie-drama titled The Rejection (Ottorzhenie). The movie’s first screening was cancelled due to technical difficulties but was scheduled later on.                

The Russian entries were much more gripping. The mockumentary Russia 88 is a harsh portrait of anti-Semitism shown trough the eyes of a neo-Nazi organization in the style of Romper Stomper (referred to in the film). The multi-award winner Wolfy is a “can’t live with or without you” mother and daughter story in a typical Russian environment. The winner of the festival’s best film prize Little Girl (La Pivellina) is also close to documentaries: excellent acting dominates the film which is virtually without any story but very joyful despite the theme – the inhabitants of a trailer park raise a little girl who was left alone in a playground. 

Machan also turned out to be one of the more entries: the heroes of the film try to escape from the deep poverty of Sri Lanka by pretending to be a professional handball team and departing for a competition in Germany. Taking into consideration the two above mentioned films, it is really surprising that the audience choice award went to the Danish movie Love and Rage (Vanvittig forelsket) – the story of a pianist who becomes mad because of his ingrained jealousy – which is not up to the standards we expect from a contemporary Danish movie.            

There was a separate block for Ukrainian, French, German, Russian, Israeli and Argentine films and also categories for gay themed movies and for documentaries. The strongest and most popular section of the festival is of course the Festival of Festivals which presents movies that were previously successful in other festivals: Lars Von Trier’s divisive and shocking Antichrist was screened to a full house as were Cold Souls and A Prophet. (Bálint Szalóky, edited by Yael Shuv)

Molodist International Film Festival: www.molodist.com