The Competition: Crossed Lines By Katharina Dockhorn

in 18th Tromso International Film Festival

by Katharina Dockhorn

Twelve movies from eight countries were shown during the competition of the 18th Tromso International Film Festival. Among these films, the festival jury selected the film they think deserves to be seen in Norwegian Cinemas. The so-called “Aurora” was given to the fresh French coming-of-age movie Water Lilies (Naissance des pieuvres) by Céline Sciamma. It follows three girls at the age of 15 living in a middle-class suburb of Paris discovering their own sexuality and having their first experiences with love and relationships.

The FIPRESCI Prize was also given to a French movie, The Secret of the Grain (La graine et le mulet) by Abdellatif Kechiche. The Tunis-born director portrays an Arab family living a normal life in a small town in the south of France. They are fully integrated. Everybody speaks French. The parents get divorced, but the father has still a very strong relationship with his children. After 35 years in a factory, he loses his job. But he doesn’t want to be without work. He sees the situation as the chance to fulfill his dream of opening a couscous restaurant on an old boat. This can only be done with the help of the whole family including his ex-wife and their daughter. All goes well, but on the opening day the couscous disappears…

In a similar situation is the 61-old Bernard in the dark comedy Darling by Swedish director Johan Kling. He has lost his job and is looking for work. But he is often told by arrogant new managers that he is too old. Bernard is as lonesome as the young men. They are always looking for one night stands. Nobody seems to be interested in a serious relationship. Bernard meets Eva, a selfish young woman, who learns to start a new life based on other values.

The difficulties of finding happiness shows also in the Israeli film Jellyfish (Meduzot), a touching story full of metaphors of a society damaged by the lack of communication, trust and solidarity. The two stories in the composite film by Etgar Hereet and Shira Geffen are accompanied by the touching portrait of an old woman, a survivor of the Holocaust. She is ill and a young Filipino takes care of her. She misses her five-year-old son. The two ladies are absolutely different and can’t understand the words spoken. But they really understand each other on an emotional level. The other stories deal with two women: a jealous wife and a waitress, whose divorced mother, a powerful politician, cares about charity for children from all over the world, but who has no time for her own daughter.

For the young nurse in the strong and intensive Swiss psychological drama A Parting Shot (Pas douce, directed by Jeanne Waltz), it is also very difficult to see the sunny side of life. She has broken all ties with her family and with her former boyfriend. She decides to shoot herself in a forest. But sees a teenage boy beating up another young man and shoots at him. The injured teenager is treated in her hospital ward. She is the only one who is able to communicate with the angry young man and both of them learn to be responsible for their own actions and find a new view on their lives.

Ania, the young Polish interpreter in And Along Come Tourists (Am Ende kommen Touristen) by young German director Robert Thalheim, works in the former concentration camp of Auschwitz. The young Sven who signed up to do his civil service abroad is based on Thalheim’s own experiences and reveals a lot of the difficulties, misunderstandings and prejudices in the relationship between Germany and Poland caused by World War II. Sven has to take care of a survivor who has never left the place. The old man repairs suitcases taken from the Jews as they arrived in Auschwitz. But now he isn’t able to do the work. Sven is forced to deal with this unpleasant situation as well as with the fact that Germans have taken over a factory nearby. On the other side Sven is in love with Ania who dreams of leaving Poland to work in the West.

She shares the dream with the young Albanian Eduart, in the film Eduart directed by Angeliki Antoniou and also based on true events. At the end of the ’90s, Eduart had left his hometown with money stolen from the station where his mother works. He wanted to become a rock star in Athens, but he ends up as a thief and murderer. Back in Albania, he is imprisoned under the hardest and inhuman conditions based on information given to the authorities by his father, a former army officer. Only a German doctor of the prison helps him to overcome his reckless character and selfish behavior. The German teaches Eduart a way of feeling responsibility and sympathy for other human beings.

The Japanese movie The Rebirth (Ai no yokan) by director Masahiro Kobayashi shows the feelings of two people united by a crime, the father of a murder victim and the mother of the murderer. They never speak or exchange looks but recognize each other every day in the factory where they work. Each lives in a very small place and is lonesome, but nobody is able to overcome the past and start an new life.

Two movies from China reveal much about their society. Little Moth (Xue Chan) by Tao Peng follows the life of eleven year-old Xiao. She is handicapped by a blood disease and is sold by her parents to Luo Jiang and Gulhua. The couple use the girl for begging. One day, they meet the mysterious Mr. Chang who is always looking for people nobody would miss for a hospital specialized in organ trade. In The Other Half (Ling yi ban, directed by Liang Ying) the world is seen through the eyes of young Xiaofei. She works as a clerk in the office of a lawyer. Every day she is confronted by women or men demanding divorce. Meanwhile nobody cares about what really matters: The pollution by a chemical factory.

The strong French class system is criticized by Jean-Pierre Darroussin in Premonition (Le pressentiment). The film follows a successful lawyer who has left behind his well-heeled family and prestigious social standing to live in a multi-racial and poor neighborhood in Paris. He becomes responsible for the teenage daughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe. He wants to give her better opportunities, but he also has to face the whispering of the new neighborhood.

The Norwegian movie The Kautokeino Rebellion (Kautokeino Opproret) by Nils Gaup is based on one of the most dramatic events in Scandinavian history. In 1852, a Swedish store owner supplies alcohol to the men of the native Sami tribe, contrary to a Sami wife’s desire to keep the men off the liquor.?The situation leads to bloodshed and Sami men imprisoned without trial.

As can be seen, the competition consisted of dramas dealing with serious subjects like family values in the modern world, the lack of communication in relationships and the struggle of people to fulfill their dreams.