Films from the South

in 18th Oslo Films from the South Festival

by Hubert Niogret

Film Fra Sor or Films From South Festival has existed in Oslo, Norway, for 18 years and is a kind of replica of Festival des 3 continents (which has played for 30 years in Nantes, France, for 30 years) but in a very different context. See the World From a Different Angle is the slogan of this Films From South Festival (not to be confused with the International Film Festival of Oslo, also in the last trimester of the year), which shows films from Africa, Asia, and Latin America in an attempt to bring to a rather conservative society in Norway different aspects of the world, of national cinemas, of old and new directors.                    

Even if immigration from other parts of the world is now about 10% in Norway, it’s a Scandinavian world, difficult to open itself up to others parts of world culture, and this Festival, largely supported by the Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture, is trying hard and sometimes succeeding from time to time to open Norway up to the rest of the world. The audience is sometimes scarce, sometimes numerous, and it’s difficult to analyze the success or not of some films by the large number of them shown, with two or three screenings each. Six places are used by the Festival, including two multiplexes (Vika Cinema, Eldorado cinema) and the Cinematheque in Oslo, which is the main office of all Institutional organizations taking care of cinema, from the archive, to the funding of production, and festivals.                  

From the opening film Maré, Another Love Story (Nossa historia de amor) by de Lucia Murat (Brazil) to the closing night’s Ashes of Time Redux (Dong che sai dukby) by Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong), 130 features and documentaries from 56 countries were shown in this October festival. This rather important number of films, including World Premieres, was dispatched through different sections. The Silver Mirror in the competition section was awarded to Buddha collapsed Out of Shame (Buda as sharm foru rikht) by Hana Makhmalbaf (Iran), the new director of the Makhmalbaf family, the fourth in a row (a strong statement against war seen through the eyes of a bunch of kids). Also winning over critics and the audience was the very classical, moving and interesting Japanese film by Yoji Yamada, Kabei-Our Mother (Kaabee), one of the rare feature films concerning the victims of the Imperial Regime between 1937 and 1945, a period when all opponents were qualified “Red” and put in jail.                    

New Directions offered much for the attention of the FIPRESCI jury, presenting several interesting new films as 10+1 (Dah be alaveh Chahar; Iran) by Mania Akbari; the social El Camino (Costa Rica/Nicaragua,) by Ishtar Yasin, and several very good films already screened in festivals before, from which 24 City (Er shi si cheng ji; Hong Kong/China/Japan) by Jia Zang ke, was awarded the International Critics Prize. Waltz With Bashir (Israel) by Ari Folman, in the Special Screenings received two awards: the Oslo Municipal Cinema’s Marketing Award, and the Audience Price. In the Documentaries Section, Football Under Cover (Germany/Iran) by Ayat Najafi & David Assmann (showing how women could play football in Iran), Man of Two Havanas (USA), by Vivien Lesnick Weisman (a portrait of Max Lesnick, an ex-friend of Fidel Castro, anti-communist, but still considered as a communist in Miami), were some of the notable films between many others. The Panorama section also had a sub-section called Panorama Latin America, but the Brazilian Films were mainly screened in the Contemporary Brazil – At the Breaking Point Section, and the Mexican ones in Young Mexican cinema. Heavy Metal in Baghdad (USA/Canada) by Eddy Moretti and Surosh Alvi was a curious mix of a “Film & Music” program, showing the extremely difficult life of the Acrassicauda group, the only Heavy Metal rock music group in Iraq. Under the title of Cinema, Politics and Narrative Construction, there was a complete tribute to Raoul Peck which was one of the highlights of the Festival, as was also the tribute to Studio Ghibli (Magical Universe, Fantastic Success). Also, more than 20 seminars attracted good audiences in support of films and themes, all regarding Africa, Asia or Latin America.              

Edited by Steven Yates