A lot of human suffering in the competition films from the 21st edition of the European Movie festival in Lecce. We see “losers” searching for their identity, eaten by a traumatic past, full of ghosts they can’t set themselves free from. After having seen the competing movies, and in the presence of their tragic and painful happenings, the emotion that I felt was a mixture of sadness and powerlessness. It’s impossible not to empathize with the young Jonathan’s (Tijmen Govaerts) troubles. Jonathan is the main character in Tench (Muidhond, 2019, Belgium, Holland), by Patrice Toye. It describes very well the drama of the protagonist who tries to curb his pedophilic impulses. And what about Arman’s anguish? Arman (Dino Bajrović), protagonist of The Son (Sin, 2019, Bosnia&Herzegovina) by Ines Tanovic, is an eighteen-year-old rebel who visits his biological mother, an angry boy who gets into a fight with a bully and defends his little brother, cared for by his grandparents.
In this 21st edition of the festival the competing films are all dramatic, and the other genres, from comedy to horror, from thrillers to fantasy, are banished. The directing looked to me very essential, with camera movements stripped to the bone and with hard and cutting dialogue that show even more the cold interpersonal relationships and distance among the different characters. During the drama there are frequent bursts of rage, disappointments, and illusions; meanwhile the awareness of fighting for a better future appears.
There are also many interesting stories about woman, especially: Lara (Germany, 2019), by Jan-Ole Gerster , a frosty mother who sent me back to Haneke’s The Piano Teacher; Winona (Greece, 2019), by Alexandros Voulgaris, with four teenagers and a dog who dream of American cinema (Spielberg, Allen, Lyne). The protagonists tell their stories, play, dive, and dream of a different future. Open Door (2019), by Florenc Papas, is an interesting road movie, with the good and beautiful Luli Bitri in the role of Rudina; Sister (Sestra, 2019, Bulgaria), by Svetla Tsotsorkova, is a delicate film about a young pathological liar. Worth mentioning is La Belle Indifference, by Kıvanç Sezer (Küçük Seyler, 2019, Turkey), which narrates the story of a man, fired from the company he was working for, who tries to find himself, in vain. And the original Scandinavian Silence (Skandinaavia vaikus, 2019, Estonia, France, Belgium), by Martti Helde, with beautiful black and white shades and beautiful snowy landscapes. Also competing are: County Lines (2019) by Henry Blake from the United Kingdom, Disco (2019) by Jorunn Myklebust Syversen from Norway, Half-Sister (Polsestra, 2019) by Damjan Kozole (director of photography Miladin Čolaković) from Slovenia, and Twelve Thousand (Douze mille, 2019) by Nadège Trebal from France.
© FIPRESCI 2020
Edited by Robert Horton