Ljubljana's Side Program

in 22nd Ljubljana International Film Festival

by Dean Kotiga

One of the strongest points of LIFFE is its side program. This year, there was a real abundance of choice, with two retrospectives, one Focus, and one Carte Blanche for the Ferroni Brigade. The first retrospective revolved around a director and the second one around a specific theme. The director in question this year was David Cronenberg, and LIFFE showed a retrospective, from his early works like Stereo, made in 1969, up until Videodrome, made in 1982, also including Shivers (1975), The Brood (1979) and Scanners (1981). So to speak, pretty much all of his pre-Hollywood works were here. The second retrospective was called Retro: Metafilm, and in it were 13 masterpieces from various locations and periods in time, including Irma Vep (1996, Olivier Assayas), Beware of a Holy Whore (1971, Rainer Werner Fassbinder), 8½ (1963, Federico Fellini) and an all-time favourite to us all, Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly’s evergreen Singin’ in the Rain (1952), which made me happy once again because I firmly believe its power grows more and more strong with every passing day.        

The focus of the festival, of which festival director Simon Popek was especially proud, was on young Greek cinema. Two works from Yorgos Lanthimos, two from Yannis Economides, and also ones made by Athina Rachel Tsangari, Panos H. Koutras, and the Argyris Papadimitropoulos/Jan Vogel collaboration. It was a well thought-out scheme because it showed us that, however diverse they may be, Greek filmmakers and their characters really share the most important thing, and that’s the fact that they all resoundly exist as a response to the problems of contemporary Greek society. Carte Blanche for the Ferroni Brigade, curated by Olaf Möller, consisted of classic Finnish cinema from the 40’s and 50’s, which presented a unique experience in itself.              

There were four main awards in the festival. The Kingfisher main award and FIPRESCI prize were chosen from the Perspectives section. There was also the  short film and (now almost obligatory at festivals) audience award. The FIPRESCI award went to Found Memories (Historias que so existem quando lembradas) by the Portugese director Julia Murat, for its heartfelt and uncontrived anthropological portrait that attempts to depict the way we individually conduct ourselves and engage with others by means of communication, regardless of age, race, education or anything else. The jury also commended the Brazil-France-Argentina co-production for the original approach in which the makers filmed the same things over and over, but from different perspectives, subtly uncovering the layers of the story and slowly foregrounding the characters contained within as the film progresses.

Edited by Steven Yates