The Seminci of the Auteurs: Established and Debuting By Maya Dimitrova

in 53rd Valladolid International Film Festival

by Maya Dimitrova

The ambience of the 53rd Valladolid International Film Festival was determined by the pace of the selected auteur’s films. With works directed by masters like Jan Troell — Everlasting Moments (Maria Larssons Evige Ojelik), Doris Dörrie — Cherry Blossoms (Kirschbluten — Hanami), Amos Gitai — One Day You’ll Understand (Plus tard, tu comprendras), this credits the Europeans only. So, we have to add to this exclusive list, naturally, Atom Egoyan’s Adoration, a French/Canadian production. Atom Egoyan has been awarded many times at Seminci, but this year the big prize went to a Brazilian/Italian comedy, Estomago: A Gastronomic Story (Estômago). In Egoyan’s film the electronic ‘nervous system’ of the World Wide Web conducts intimate human feelings into the global world.

The emotional notion of the personal experience in relation to the global existence is likely to be the semantic marker of the films in this year’s selection. This gives the chance for films, made by directors with outstandingly different artistic personalities, working in different social, aesthetic and genre context, to be emotionally, sensually and mentally experienced by audiences in different projection rooms.

The above mentioned three European films — the three of them being co-produced like most of the other films in the official selection — are continuing the filmic trends and the thematic areas of their authors. The overall impression is that all the three films are standing out in their filmic forms as a metaphor for the spiritual state of the contemporary human situation — no matter where on Earth their dwelling is. The characters are painstakingly putting together the puzzle of their relations with one another being psychologically determined by the globally pursuing social environment. Exploring the intimacy of the personal and family relations challenged by dramatic circumstances, the authors seize the opportunity to cast a devouring look at the harassment of the interwoven global contacts.

A husband goes to the other end of the world — towards the sunrise — wanting for his fading happiness in Doris Dörrie’s film Cherry Blossom. The spectators take away the discovery of their own Japan and their notion of joy.

Moments frozen in a photo gallery is feverishly snapping the female lead in Jan Troell’s film Everlasting Moments. Desperately trying to create a personal world from that which perennially pervades her everyday life, she discovers in the captured pieces of existence — the existence of others — new senses, feelings and passions.

Amos Gitai’s film One Day You’ll Understand renders a profound stare from the present to the past and back to the future. The past is projected into the present and aims to form a new, unpredictable future, at least for the family vivisected by Gitai. With his unpredictable filmic taste and ecstatic pace, Gitai is exquisitely touching the genetics of the social, group and personal relations in a French-Jewish family with an aesthetic angle at the metamorphoses of moral with time. With outstanding actors like the perfect Jeanne Moreau, the talented Dominique Blanc, Hippolyte Girardot and Emmanuelle Devos, Gitai sensually spreads the historic layers of the envisaged family drama, outlining the tragic traces in time. The depiction of the devastating circumstances during the time of WWII also makes achingly vivid the emotions of the present.

The present times were the focus of the films in this year’s selection and the film awarded by the FIPRESCI Jury, The Window (La Ventana), is a contemporary drama, with an aura of directly depicting the realities of the present day global world.

The films in the official selection as a whole were in the auteur format and this is one of the most tempting traditions of this international festival which has been responsible for introducing the world cinema to the screens of Spain. At Seminci, one can feel the living spirit of the cinema des auteurs: the everlasting tradition of the French Nouvelle Vague, Die Neue Deutsche Film, great directors from the Italian and Spanish cinemas and the Latin-American schools from the Golden Age of the movies in the middle of the last century. Modern cinema — the auteur’s cinema is still preoccupied with the avant-garde in film making even in our post-modern times. With a resounding enthusiasm, the audiences at Seminci traditionally crowd into the festival projection rooms.

Giving the young directors a chance to receive not only the reaction of the specialized juries and their colleagues, but to experience the senses of a vivid, emotional and competent audience, the promotion of young filmmakers is a pulsating, future oriented part of the festival selection. Notably, the festival opened with a début — Amin Matalqa’s Captain Abu Raed, the first Jordanian film to compete for an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Film category and had alsoreceived the Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award.