Karlovy Vary 2009, report by Nadja Hetesova
The high quality entries in the official competition this year, though representing a wide spectrum of ideas and backgrounds, are mostly about isolation and insecurity of the individual in the overchanging contemporary societies. The movies are all credible and true to the vision of their authors, however we find the following films standing out from the rest.
Don Quijote Prize
Un ange à la mer (Angel at the Sea), Belgium/Canada 2009, D: Frédéric Dumont
A truly independant and commendable effort. A well portrayed psychological drama without depending on a conventional story telling. It considers the audience nature enough and avoids spoonfeeding. The multi dimensional character studies are well supported by the wonderfull cast. The ideas which work on conceptual level also work in practice like isolation, claustrophobia, insecurity and unconditional love.
Angel at Sea | Un ange à la mer
Director: Frédéric Dumont
Belgium, Canada, 2009, 86 min
Twelve-year-old Louis lives with his parents and older brother in a small town in southern Morocco. Louis is a happy boy until the moment when his father tells him a secret that only they will share. This successful feature debut relies on excellent performances by Olivier Gourmet, Anne Consigny, and especially the convincing Martin Nissen as Louis. The movie is gorgeous to look at, and features a gripping story.
Volčok (Wolfy), Russia, 2009, D: Vasilij Sigarev
An intense and focused screenplay that was treated with similar focus visually. Theatre influences are obvious but welcome. The dark, brooding and atmospheric drama of a mother and her daughter is cinematographically overwelming which gives Wolfy its unique quality. Fantasy and reality as well as their two main characters dwell in this amazing film.
Wolfy | Volčok
Director: Vassily Sigarev
Russia, 2009, 86 min
From the very start of the film it’s clear that, for Mother, the birth of Daughter is an unwelcome burden, and that’s how it’ll always be. Until, one day, when it’s too late, Mother realizes that she has not only ruined her own life, but her daughter’s as well. Despite his young age, Vassily Sigarev has written 18 stage plays, one of which, Plasticine, was performed in Prague’s DISK theatre five years ago. His film debut, based on his own play, demonstrates that Sigarev is well able to convey his own, distinctive style to the big screen just as effectively as he has done for the stage. Wolfy recently took the top award at the Kinotavr festival of Russian films in Sochi.
Cold Soul, USA 2008, D: Sophie Barthes
The metaphysical comedy, which in itself is a rare genre, has a strong plotting. The complex idea was (mise en scéne) without gimmicks. Supported by an amazing performance of the main actor Paul Giamatti, the film is also a parody of the preconcepts between east and west and body and soul.
Cold Souls | Cold Souls
Director: Sophie Barthes
USA, 2008, 101 min
A melancholic comedy by debuting Sophie Barthes which presents Paul Giamatti as a New York stage actor who decides to confront his approaching nervous breakdown by having his soul extracted and deep-frozen. Gogol, Buñuel, Jung and Woody Allen were the inspiration behind this original film, screened for the first time at this year’s Sundance festival.