ARTFILM - International Film Festival Trencianske Teplice - Trencin (June 22nd - 30th 2007) report by Christl Grunwald-Merz
We stayed with the other juries in Trencianske Teplice, a cosy little spa which has more and probably better hotels than Trencin, a bigger town with more and better cinemas - there we saw in three different places most of the films. We had to judge upon "first feature films", a choice which meant parts of the program of the "main competition" and of the "Eastern Panorama" juries. From this very interesting point of view we made up our minds over about 14 films, which gave us interesting insights in the creative potential of film makers, many of whom worked for or came from Eastern European countries - so the director of the film we gave the DON QUIJOTE: Moscow-born Kiril Mikhalkovsky for "Fish Dreams". It was a Brasilian/Russian/USA- coproduction. We gave the award for its realistic - or better: authentic - village scenery with hard working fishermen on the one side and a "collective" escape to the 100% fake soap operas on the other, a dreamworld which offers a hyperrealistic ending when the juvenile hero sails away with his girl friend - and with an XXL-TV-set. This film convinced also the main competition jury by "its tenderness and the memorable simplicity of the narrative". We discussed "special mentions" but refrained from it since there were no other productions we could agree upon, except the Norwegian "Reprise", which as Carla found out had already gotten a DON QUIJOTE.
Aneta Lesnikovska's "Does It Hurt? - The First Balkan Dogma" was a Macedonia/Netherlands co-production; I felt the confusion about this "documentary according to Dogma" throughout the film, and the director confirmed it in the discussion. The Malaysian "Love Conquers All" by Tan Chui Mui seemed too simple an illustration of the international girls' trade. We talked also about the Belgian film "Tides" by Diego Martinez Vignatti - it had overwhelming shots of the Argentinean coast, terrific natural sceneries - but we could not, or better: did not feel able to - judge on the plot: a young woman's struggle to overcome the death of her husband and her son in an accident. I thought the South Korean "Driving with My Wife's Lover" by Kim Tsai-sik a "promising" production, which was technically perfect but had drama-problems. "Falafel" from France and Luxembourg (director: Michel Kammoun) disappointed our high expectations - the other jury had already seen it. It might be that the place - Beirut - could have given it this touch of evading, diffuseness and looking for an escape, made the three of us refrain from a special mention, but we probably cannot judge about the psychological climate which manifests itself in this film, we, being the fortunate inhabitants of countries with free and peaceful living conditions! We were also disappointed by the highly recommended (and awarded by the Eastern Panorama Jury) production from Bosnia and Herzegovina "Mum 'n' Dad" (director: Faruk Loncarevic), to me it seemed undecided whether to describe the real situation of a person having lost "his soul" as the consequence of a stroke or whether it should only take this situation as a sardonically bitter pretext for a fake of "modern" TV-genres like soap operas or "Big Brother"-productions.
Short remarks on the other films we saw: "The Way I Spent the End of the World" (Romania, director: Catalin Mitulescu): we all agreed that it was an excellent document on childrens' life under Ceausescu with its "double"-ending - the clever girl making an "international" career and the circle of family and friends being as poor as before - but with the feeling of freedom. This film was in a sense a contrast to the one we had seen in the morning "Paper Will Be Blue" (Romania, director: Radu Muntean) - it was a decisive night in the chaotic days when Ceausescu fell.
"Crossing the Dust" (Iraq, director: Shawkat Amin Korki) was a Kurdish film about two men who had - as a consequence of their sufferings under Saddam Hussein - a different attitudes concerning a little boy who had probably lost his parents.
Five films were speaking Russian although only one of them cam from Russia: "The Man of No Return", directed by Katja Grodovskaja. It showed very intensely how values and emotions had become chaotic after the Iron Curtain had been pulled down - although it ends with a sudden "happy end" for four of the formerly confused people of the plot.
"Family Name" by Stanislav Mitin was a co-production Russia/Kazachstan which told us during a long drive in a car through the night of St. Petersburg the "real" story, the "real origin" of a 16 year old boy. There was a big discussion going on whether a film should use only the flash back and the inner monologue.
"The Lighthouse" by Maria Saakajan (Russian/Armenian co-production) told about the terrible living conditions in war times in an Armenian village.
"Birds of Paradise" by Talgat Asyrankulov and Gaziz Nasyrow (Kazachstan / Kyrgyztan) showed drastic real-life scenes from a border region but had a 1001-night touch of putting them on a higher (?) level.
"At the River" by Eva Neymann (Ukraine) might have been given a special mention. It showed the daily quarrels between a 90 year old lady - she might have Alzheimer - and her daughter, around 70. Both of them live and suffer (from each other) together. The film ends with a beautiful scene at the river: both sit peacefully near each other, after two young girls have rowed them over this river - and the girls had almost the same discussion about old people as they had shown before...
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It was a very nice festival with overwhelming hospitality!.
Christl Grunwald-Merz - Bundesverband Jugend und Film e.V (Germany)