Unnoticed Wonders By Milan Vlajcic

in 54th Mannheim International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg

by Milan Vlajcic

Closing ceremony of 54th International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg (which took place on a Saturday evening) showed the mutual satisfaction of the awarded directors and organizers. The Grand Prix went to Tuning directed by Igor Sterk (Slovenia), whilst the FIPRESCI Prize went to Toss Up (Yazi Tura), directed by Ugur Yücel (Turkey). There were a lot of other prizes and mentions, but the general feeling was that some of best films from the competition section were not recognized and evaluated in the best manner. That is, however, a usual enough occurence when the program is rich and full of positive surprises. This year the program presented almost 200 films in many sections, including 20 films in competition and 12 in the excellent program “Mannheim Discoveries”. In short, from the 18th to the 26th of November we saw 52 premieres from 23 countries, among them some very good films from Argentina, Chile, Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Malesia, and Iran.

By good fortune, this edition of Mannheim festival was far superior when compared with the last few years. In the past, this festival has presented newcomer directors such as Wim Wenders, Lars von Trier and R.W. Fasbinder. And, but perhaps not on purpose, a significant amount of films signed by female directors. So, Special Award of the Jury went to young Romanian director Ruxandra Zenide for the film Ryna. Obviously, this festival raised its own audience and attendance this year was bigger then in previous years, with many sold-out screenings.

In my personnal opinion, two of the best films of this festival didn’t receive any significant prizes. Iranian author Ramin Bahrani was previously awarded with the FIPRESCI Prize, but the International Jury gave him only a special mention. His film Man Push Cart is the tremendeous story of a young man from Afganistan who strugles to survive in the heart of the glamorous city – Gotham. Without any pathetic or socialy melodramatic overtones, the drama of this young man who stayed without his only propriety (the cart) took on mythic dimension. This is a film of the highest visual authenticity and tragic universality.

On the other hand, In Bed (En la Cama), made by the young chilean director Matias Bize, is story with two young lovers. It takes place over one night and in one room, and is full of wonderful dialogue and passionate love scenes. This is one of the best erotic films in the last few years. A movie to remember.