A stimulating selection of world cinema will shine in the competitive section GEMS
The nine titles of this section bravely confront themes that concern all human beings: memory (Season of the Devil), disease and death (Mrs. Fang), justice (In the Fade), solidarity, love and desire (BPM [Beats Per Minute]), or the awakening of childhood (The Florida Project). These films also get to the bottom of taboo subjects such as cannibalism (Caniba), or stand out by their powerful formal inventiveness (The Day After) In short, these selected films find beauty and poetry, the mystical and the spiritual, in the most unexpected places.
Among the Gems of FICCI 58 are directors with great and renowned trajectories such as Hong Sang-soo (The Day After), Lav Diaz (Season of the Devil), Fatih Akin (In the Fade), and Wang Bing (Mrs. Fang), as well as emerging talents like Constantin Popescu (Pororoca). These films have been awarded and successfully shown in festivals like Cannes, Locarno, San Sebastián, and Toronto.
Here we announce the first eight titles of this competition. Within the next days we will announce another one.
These are the Gems that will shine in FICCI 58:
120 BATTEMENTS PAR MINUTE
BPM [BEATS PER MINUTE]
Director: Robin Campillo
Paris. The Nineties. In light of the government’s indifference and the negligence of the pharmaceutical industry, a group of activists tries to raise public awareness about the AIDS epidemic using controversial means. Based on the personal experiences of director Campillo and screenwriter Mangeot in ACT UP!, a militant AIDS movement that emerged with the LGBT community’s battle for their rights, BPM looks back at a decade and a movement that, despite being marred by countless losses, possessed a powerful and inspiring spirit of rebellion and freedom that remains relevant to this very day. A film that oozes impotence and rage, but also love, sexuality, compassion and a deep sense of empathy, and whose characters, marginalized by a society that accepts no deviations from its norms and living in the shadow of the constant threat of death, channel their unbridled passion into the only act of resistance possible.
- Grand Jury Prize and Fipresci Prize, Cannes 2017.
AUS DEM NICHTS
IN THE FADE
Director: Fatih Akin
A bicycle-bomb goes off at Yuri’s office, killing him and his son Rocco. The police open an investigation into their death, but Yuri’s past as a dealer and his Turkish origin give rise to accusations based on prejudices. Katja, his wife and the mother of his son—viscerally played by Diane Kruger, who won Best Actress at Cannes—is not only “forced” to survive the loss of her family, but will have to face a trial in which racism could well prevail over reason. In the Fade is a brutal thriller in which the distinction between right and wrong become lost amid various shades of gray. In the full throes of tragedy and the unbearable pain of grief, we find ourselves asking how we can carry on and why we should even bother. But above all, we find ourselves asking where the justice is in it all. Heightened emotions, racism and intercultural clashes are the underlying themes of Fatih Akin’s films. Of Turkish origin, he is one of Germany’s most solid directors and In the Fade serves to shore up that reputation.
- Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Picture.
Directors: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel
Caniba is a disturbing film that asks some very uncomfortable questions. Issei Sagawa is an old, seemingly weak and inoffensive man, but we soon learn he has committed cannibalism in the past. Nonetheless, he now lives a free man in the care of his brother, who has his own secrets, except his are of a sexual bent. There are many ways to approach a phenomenon such as this, but the directors have chosen to analyze it as anthropologists, which explains the film’s entomological feel: extremely close close- ups just inches from Sagawa’s face and long sequences that capture his breathing, his empty gaze and cruel smile. But perhaps even more unsettling than the way it is filmed and the act of cannibalism itself (which Sagawa illustrates with the aid of a very bloody and very explicit manga comic strip that he drew himself and that he holds up for the camera), is how it scratches away at the surface in order to get to the origin and nature of desire. Definitely not apt for every palate, every second is weighed down in a dense atmosphere and unnerving suggestiveness. Visceral, intense, far from conventional and absolutely mesmerizing, Caniba is more than a documentary; it is an experience that puts us to the test, both as spectators and as human beings.
- Special Orizzonti Jury Prize, Venice Film Festival 2017.
GEU – HU
THE DAY AFTER
Director: Hong Sang-Soo
On her first day at work at a small publishing company, the beautiful Areum (Min Hee Kim, the always wonderful actress who starred in The Handmaiden) unwittingly finds herself mixed up in a drama. Her boss’s wife has discovered a love letter and heads for the office, where she proceeds to attack Areum, thinking she is her husband’s lover. In an interesting play of flashforwards and flashbacks that interrupt the chronology of events, we come to learn the story of Bongwan, a critic of a certain standing, as intelligent as he is insecure. Through conversations with the new girl, his wife and, of course, his discovered lover, we become enmeshed in the human drama of having to choose between loneliness and life as a couple, the lives we live and the ones we wish we could, between shouldering our responsibilities and following our hearts, although when all is said and done, the real showdown is between cowardice and resolve. Black and white shots of the deserted streets of Seoul at night reinforce the melancholic tone of this drama that bears the unmistakable seal of one of the most prolific and talented directors of Korean cinema.
- Grand Prize and Best Actor, Busan Film Critics Association Award 2017.
Director: Bing Wang
What is documentary film if not a chronicle of real life? And in real life there is no escaping death. This gripping film, winner of the Locarno Festival, speaks of the unspeakable. Mrs. Fang is bedridden and has Alzheimer’s. She sits with her eyes wide open staring into space, unable to recognize her own children or those who care for her. What is she thinking? She is the center of attention, her face always in the foreground, yet life happens around her in her mental absence. Mrs. Fang lives in a remote village in rural China and comes from a fishing family that doesn’t have the means to pay for hospitals or palliative treatments, so she depends on the care of her nearest and dearest, the unconditional support of neighbors and others willing to be there in her time of need, even though their way of caring might seem cold to Westerners, given the cultural abyss. Filmed in the weeks leading up to her death, Mrs. Fang is a moving portrait of the slow and agonizing death of someone we will never really know.
- Golden Leopar at Locarno 2017.
Director: Constantin Popescu
Tudor (Bogdan Dumitrache, who gives an even more convincing performance than he did in Child´s Pose) and Cristina have their ups and downs, but are otherwise a happy couple with two children they adore: seven-year- old Ilie and five-year- old Maria. Every Sunday, Tudor takes them to the park and enjoys watching them play, until one day his worst nightmare come true: María disappears without a trace. No one has seen or heard anything. The days pass and the investigation makes no progress. The couple’s marriage begins to crumble under the burden of guilt, blame and a pain so intense it seems impossible to carry on. As the director himself has said on more than one occasion, the breakdown or deconstruction of relationships after a tragedy is the starting point, the rocky terrain in which this drama unfolds in his masterful hands. In the Tupi Guarani language, “pororoca” is the onomatopoeic word this people indigenous to the Amazons uses to refer to the crash of the waves as they rush in and are sent back by the sea. But semantics aside, Pororoca is one of those forceful films Romanian cinema of recent years has gotten us “well used to”; a hard-hitting portrayal of a man whose world has fallen apart.
- Best Actor at the 2017 San Sebastián Film Festival.
THE FLORIDA PROJECT
Director: Sean Baker
Six-year-old Moonee and her gang live in the shadow of Disney World, in gaudily decorated motels with showy names like Magic Castle, scattered along the highways of Orlando. These days, tourists stay at the nearby theme park and have stopped frequenting these motels, where families like Moonee and her mother Halley, who does her best to give her daughter a normal childhood, or at least one without too many privations, now live. This latest film by the director of Tangerine is not another dissertation on poverty and social marginalization in the United States, but a sensitive look at childhood and the power fantasy has to get us through difficult circumstances; a fable of resistance abut children and adults who have each other’s backs. Filmed in classic 35mm and featuring unforgettable performances by Brooklynn Prince as little Moonee and Willem Dafoe as a strict, but soft-hearted motel manager, The Florida Project draws on the great tradition of American narrative to describe the often painful, but inevitable rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.
ANG PANAHON NG HALIMAW
SEASON OF THE DEVIL
Director: Lav Diaz
The proclamation of a martial law that gave the president authoritarian powers was in force for nine years in Ferdinand Marcos’s Philippines. Director Lay Diaz’s last film, an anti-musical musical of long breath, is dedicated to the victims of that totalitarianism. Yet Diaz does not limit himself to making a realist reconstruction or a political analysis. Rather, he constructs a highly complex piece where each character, victim or victimizer, has time to express himself in songs without music, with lyrics that come and go in a tremendously disturbing repetition. The result of this rigorous experimentation is an authentic elegy constructed with one foot on history and its misfortunes, and the other on myth and its consolations, capable of being voice to the unnamable; a profoundly engaged film, not just with the pain of his countrymen but with the search for languages and levels of expression. Shot as most of Diaz’s films in black and white, with unexpected angles and the necessary duration to penetrate into the work’s proper time, Season of the Devil is a study of the evil that exists and the human courage to combat it.