My Notebook for the International Competition

in 22nd Istanbul Film Festival

by Constantin Terzis

Diego Lerman’s “Suddenly” from Argentina already won a FIPRESCI award at the Vienna Festival (October 2002) and now the “Golden Tulip” at the Istanbul International Film Festival in international competition. It has a keen and witty approach in a narrative which confronts alienation and the hidden feelings of young adults in urban society. The plot is full of surprises and turning points which are used to create “a new start” in the movie. Filmed in black and white (blown up from 16 mm) images mislead us in the beginning as “an amateur’s view”…

Baltasar Kormakur’s “The Sea” (FIPRESCI award for this section) comes from the Scandinavian theatrical tradition of family drama and works like a well-timed explosive device. Kormakur, the Icelandic actor-turned-director works on parallel levels, from family drama to the wider socio-economic context.

The Tunisian “Cinema Paradiso” by Ridha Behi called “The Magic Box” is nostalgic but not effective in terms of dramatic escalation.

In Jacob Berger’s “Aime ton pere” strong interpretations from all the leading actors (Gerard Depardieu, Guillaume Depardieu, Sylvie Testud) add to a simple story with a universal appeal: the frightening gap, turned to a war, between father and son.

In the Bulgarian film by Teddy Moskov “Rhapsody in white” the leading female character (played by Maya Novosselska) is a joy to watch. Indeed, a film about “the fight against the triviality of life”… where Chekhov meets Chaplin in a marionette theater.

Rebecca Miller already received an award for “Personal Velocity” at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, from the tradition of American independent cinema, is structured in three parts and tells the stories of three women, each trying to escape from a man… and also trying to come to terms with their personal feelings.

“Madame Sata” by Brazilian writer-director Karim Ainouz has superb and vivid cinematography, though not always “synchronised” with the narration: a story with in-depth questions about sexuality, race and social order.

Carlos Carrera’s “El Crimen del Padre Amaro” from Mexico has a solid and straight-forward narration but fails to move under the surface of socio-political conflicts.

In Bahman Ghobadi’s “Marooned in Iraq” (shown in “Un Certain Regard” in Cannes 2002 as “Songs from my homeland”) the music track and almost burlesque narrative are the covering of the tragedy and every day suffering of a nation without a safe homeland.

“Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress” of Dai Sijie, based in his own autobiographical novel, focuses on the years of the Cultural Revolution in China, with an unexpected nostalgia for the youth described.

Another important film from the Balkans: the Romanian feature “Every day God kisses us on the mouth” (director: Sinisa Dragin ) about a killer-butcher from Dracula’s homeland unfolds the trauma of transition in Eastern Europe’s post-communist societies.