This year there were 21 films screened within the main program of the 11th Motovun Film Festival, 13 of whichwere in competition for Propeller of Motovun, the main festival award. Along with the main program, there were a few other additional programs: ‘new Finnish film’, which dealt with features and documentaries;’stories about greed and poverty’, which included mostly classical cinema friendly films such as The Gold Rush (1925) by Charles Chaplin, Greed by Erich Von Stroheim, Miracle in Milan (Miracolo a Milano, 1951) by Vittorio De Sica,and Land Without Bread (Las Hurdes, 1933) by Luis Buñuel. In addition, late night screenings were reserved for Yugoslavian ‘partisan action film’with eminent titles of the genre such as Double Circle (Dvostruki obruk, 1963) by Nikola Tanhofer, Captain Leshi (Kapetan Lesi, 1960) by Živorad ‘Žika’ Mitrovic, along with two distinguished films by Hajrudin Krvavac: The Bridge (1969) and Walter Defends Sarajevo (Valter brani Sarajevo, 1972).
Concerning the films in competition, one should mention Fish Tankby Andrea Arnold, which wonthe Propeller of Motovun and the FIPRESCI Prize. It is characterized by excellent dramaturgy, impressive photography, high quality acting performances – especially those of the young actresses Katie Jarvis and Rebecca Griffiths – along with the profound characterization. French film Stella by Sylvie Verheyde should also be emphasized. It is a story of an 11-year-old little girl, Stella, who lives in a labour suburb of Paris in the late 1970s in a modest tavern led my her parents. The little girl is not managing well in her new school, and she is also sad because of her parents’ bad marriage.But hanging out with her new friend Gladys, and discovering the magic of reading books show her the joy of life. Unfortunately, her childhood will be soon outshadowed by an ugly event which happens by the end of the film.
A Week Alone (Una semana solos) by Argentinian filmmaker Celine Murge portrays a big social problem:agroup of children of different ages were left alone for a week in the richest part of Buenos Aires by their parents while they went on a trip. A maid is only superficially taking care of them. The children spend their days being bored and doing all sorts of naughty little things. The film effectively shows the class separation and the sterile atmosphere of a carefully organized rich neighbourhood.Separated by a wallwhere it is only possible to come through an entrance guarded by the police, inside of the neighbourhood itself there are guards patrolling in their cars.
The Swedish film Worlds Apart (To verdener) by Niels Arden Oplev is completely the opposite to the Argentinian film. The portrayal of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ community is hypocritical and full of clichés. Does a contemporary western humanity have the right to point their fingers at closed authoritorian communities and see them as something completely twisted as if it is perfect itself?
The Danish film Little Soldier (Lille soldat) by Annette K. Olesen is also very good. It is an inversion of a well known story of a warrior who has come back from the war and can’t find his place within the peaceful world. Only this time the protagonist is a woman. The primary criticism of the film could be found in its portrayal of a prostitution where women prostitute themselves entirely because of poverty and all their customers are perverted. But the final twist changes the perspective of a viewer, where all that has been seen can be interpreted as a perspective of the main character who falls in love with a Nigerian prostitute. In Michal Rosa’s Polish film Scratch (Rysa), there is a similar interpreting option. It is about the downfall of a marriage of an old couple, Jan and Joanne, who lived harmoniously until an alleged analyst of crime of the Communist Party of Poland publicly says on television that Jan was a spy set to follow the work of Joanne’s antisocialist father. Until the end of the film, we don’t find out whether this is really true, so politics sets a background for questioning of love and fear of death.
All in all, this year’s main program brought the usual festival films to Motovun. Often quite demanding for viewers, with just a few weak points, and the whole variety of very good or inspiring possibilities of interpreting. Jaana Puskala, Ahmed Buric and Zvonimir Juric formed the main jury.
Edited by Glenn Dunks
© FIPRESCI 2009