Gemas. The following are some of the films that will shine in Cartagena
Latin America's longest running film festival is preparing to celebrate its 57th edition and will now unveil the selection of films to participate in the Gemas Competition. These films will dazzle the audience with their exceptional artistic merit and the clarity with which they examine history, tradition and contemporary society. The group features the most recent productions of directors of all stripes, both novice and acclaimed, that have stood out on the major film festival circuit over the past year. A total of 12 Gemas (Gems) will be screened for your enjoyment in Cartagena from March 1st to 6th, each with its own unique identity and narrative. Together they will confirm a truly significant year for international cinema.
The Latin American presence will be courtesy of Kleber Mendonça Filho's Aquarius, a Brazil-France coproduction. It is the story of one woman's fight for dignity as she confronts the company that wants to force her from the building that has been her home for her entire life. Sonia Braga has been awarded Best Actress for her role in the film at the Lima, Mar del Plata and Biarritz festivals. Another essential figure of contemporary cinema is Isabelle Huppert, winner of the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama for her role in Paul Verhoeven's Elle, which also took home the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It is a disturbing look at the ambiguity of a business woman who is raped by a masked man.
Winner of the Golden Lion for Best Film at the most recent edition of the Venice Film Festival, Ang babaeng humayo (The Woman Who Left), by Filipino director Lav Díaz, follows with hypnotic narration a woman seeking revenge after years of being wrongly incarcerated. Winner of well over a dozen international awards, including the Golden Leopard for Best Film at Locarno, Bezbog (Godless) is a drama about a nurse addicted to morphine who traffics the ID cards of elderly patients. Bulgarian Ralitza Petrova exposes the spiritually devastated world of post-communist Eastern Europe in this directorial debut.
Winner of the Audience Award for Documentaries at the Chicago International Film Festival, I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck reveals the scope of racism in the United States through the story of writer James Baldwin, with the use of ample file footage and narration by Samuel L. Jackson. Rester Vertical tells the story of a filmmaker searching for inspiration for his next film while he must raise a child on his own. This provocatively erotic production by French director Alain Guiraudie (Stranger by the Lake) won him the award for Best Director at the Seville European Film Festival.
Ta'ang, by Chinese director Wang Bing, depicts with startling proximity the living conditions of a group of refugees fleeing armed conflict in the border region between Myanmar and China. From Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa comes Austerlitz, an investigation into tourism and the monumentalizing of death that follows groups of tourists as they visit Nazi concentration camps.
The documentary that won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, Fuocoammare, will also be screened. This film by Gianfranco Rosi chronicles the European migrant crisis through the case study of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The tenth cinematographic Gem will be Câini, by Romanian director Bogdan Mirica, in which an inherited piece of land leads Roman to discover his grandfather's criminal past. This production that has furthered international recognition of Romanian film won the FIPRESCI prize at the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Also in this section, Ah-ga-ssi (Handmaiden), by Korean Palme d'Or nominee Park Chan-wook, tells the story of a woman who is hired as a servant by a Japanese heiress, but secretly plots a scam against her.
One more Gem will be announced as part of the FICCI 57 final program, to be revealed the last week of January. This will mark the completion of a selection that represents a unique opportunity to discover works that will go on to secure special places in cinematographic history, and that have already earned their title as the most daring and stimulating films in the global contemporary scene.