Discoveries from Moscow By Rui Pedro Tendinha

in 27th Moscow International Film Festival

by Rui Tendinha

Sure we all want to discover filmmakers, sure we all want to have that great feeling of discovering something new, but it’s becoming really hard to see something fresh from newcomers. More than ever, it’s complicated to see new cinema. So, when this happens we always like to cherish it and start believing that there is a new important filmmaker. When I saw for the first time Reservoir Dogs and Bottle Rocket, I almost immediately knew that Tarantino and Wes Anderson were filmmakers bound to have a new creative vision. Therefore, it is always with a mixture of anxiety and doubt that we relate to debutant filmmakers. In these days the importance of making a first film is something that should be debated more and thought through. The struggle to do something new should be taken more seriously, not only by the filmmaker but also by the producer. It seems to me that nowadays young filmmakers are settling for just doing. They should rethink better their own degrees of ambition and try to aim for greatness and – why not – that old romantic idea of making the best film ever. With that kind of utopia, it’s easier to flourish new kinds of cinema language, avoiding the old clichés and mannerisms of experimental provocation (which is sometimes ever so annoying).

In this year’s Moscow Film Festival there were a few first features, and because some of those movies were not modest films, I have selected three new filmmakers. None of them have made masterpieces, but also none of them attempted conformity, repetition of formulas or aesthetic indifference. These are three films from Moscow that we should be aware of.

The Guitar Mongoloid, directed by Ruben Östlund.
A young director has created a monster with his first foray into fiction after some experiences on documentary. Ruben Östlund displays originality in creating a voyage into realism in a very concrete social scenario in the urban landscape of Sweden in 2004. Of course Lukas Moodysson and some other filmmakers were also able to get intense results with the same daring cinema-vérité style, but in this case there is also a strange humorous satisfaction in showing the shattered pieces of the so called Swedish conformity. The best thing is that we predict Östlund’s punk camera can go even deeper on this examination. Let’s just wait for his second film, which is already made.

The Chumscrabber, directed by Arnie Posin.
Between the satire of American Beauty and the weirdness of Donnie Darko, comes The Chumscrabber , an examination of the medicated suburbia of today’s America. The film shows that Posin is able to depict the world through the eye of a contemporary teenager. Certainly his main message contains some mistakes, typical in a hasty new filmmaker eager to show something, but, overall, there is a fascination in this mosaic of characters and subplots. Arnie Posin succeeds also in his interaction with the actors, especially the young ones. Jamie Bell and Lou Taylor Pucci’s performances are most of the time quite perfect, thanks to the director’s guidance.

Hassan Smile, directed by Frédéric Goupil.
The story of a French smuggler saved on the Middle Eastern mountains by a group of Christian monks is a pretext for a subtle study on religious idealism. French director Frédéric Goupil clearly goes for the naturalistic style, giving us plenty of atmosphere and spiritual balance. The main surprise is that he never wants to elude the strength of the narrative progression. In doing that, the film presents various levels of perceptions, though it never falls for a specific approach. Everything is crafted with a beautiful sense of simplicity and the tension levels are extremely high. Goupil’s camera pays a lot of attention to details. Such details can only be captured by a sensitive cinema.