New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn: The provocative, brilliant, angry and irresistibly funny film by Radu Jude deals with the phenomenon of moral panic, exposing the accompanying hypocrisy, ignorance and authoritarian tendencies. What is “really” obscene here: the sight of people having sex with mutual consent and to their mutual satisfaction, or perhaps the poverty depicted here of a city devastated by wild capitalism and nationalist ideology? Who is perverse, the teacher or the self-proclaimed tribunal of staunchly indignant parents that has gathered at school to judge her? Filled with archival materials, Bad Luck… is a catalog of the true variants of pornography, whether political, religious, or class, shamelessly spreading under noble slogans. The real reasons for shame, Jude argues, can be found on our streets and in our own history books. (Małgorzata Sadowska)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy: Rohmerian in spirit, but bearing the expressive mark of Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s style, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, consists of three short stories, each revolving around the theme of chance. …it is also a journey towards a growing feeling of uncanniness, because the film, which starts out like a classic morality tale, slowly moves towards fantasy, where a twist of fate takes on extraordinary features. …the scenes, shot mainly in interiors two actors each are phenomenal, nuanced portraits of relationships. Brilliant observations and a discreet sense of humor are accompanied by a sadness that makes Hamaguchi’s film a quiet sigh over wasted opportunities and our imperfection. (Małgorzata Sadowska)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on The Girl and the Spider: An intricate web of hidden longing and veiled emotions is woven over the course of two days and one night when Lisa abandons her roommates and moves to her own apartment. The energy triggered by moving …puts everyone in a state of tension that travels like a cold sore from Lisa’s mouth to Mary’s. …Set almost entirely indoors, the film is structured like the eponymous spider’s web with perfect though fragile geometry. And the layouts of the new and old apartments can serve as maps used to decipher their tenants’ inner lives. Like a prism, they capture the things that people do when they think no one is watching. The viewers are also constantly surprised with dynamic, unexpected changes in viewpoints that clue the audience into secret details noticed by no one – save for the spider in the corner of the room.
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on What Do We See When We Look at the Sky: The sun lights up the streets, the soccer world championship is approaching, children chase footballs, street urchins wander to their favorite pubs, the leaves of lush trees rustle, and the foaming river whispers. Although What Do We See When We Look At the Sky comes close to the convention of magical realism, it ultimately eludes simple classifications. It is full of panache, but also tenderness, contemplation of what constitutes a specific, everyday reality, pulsating with life. The director meanders, releases the narrative, digresses only to return to the main plot. He focuses not so much on the events as on their images, always visually mesmerizing. It is a fairy tale film, but also a tribute to “filmmaking.” (Karolina Kosińska)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Stop-Zemlia: We meet the sensitive Masha who is part of a group of friends along with Yana and Senia. They experiment together, struggle with loneliness, problems with their parents, and first loves. …In her impressive debut, Ukrainian director Kataryna Gronostai, with warmth and sensitivity captures the moment in life when pain intertwines with hope and everything is so easy and so difficult at the same time. An authentic, almost documentary portrait of contemporary youth, who brought their experiences and language to the film during workshops preceding the shooting, combine here with a poetic touch. (Adam Kruk)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Wood and Water: The prolonged absence forces the woman to take lonely walks around the city, which turn into a series of random meetings, conversations and fascinations. Jonas Bak blurs the lines between documentary and fiction; although he tells a fictional story, the film stars his mother, sisters and friends. The shooting coincided with Hong Kong’s groundswell of protests against the extradition bill, though politics take a back seat to Bak’s main vision. More important here is Anke’s inner journey: her transformation, which unfolds slowly, timidly, but ultimately allows her to open up to other people and start a new phase of life. (Jakub Demiańczuk)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Luzzu: The film’s title is taken from the traditional Maltese coastal fishing boat. One of the local captains, Jesmark, continues his family fishing tradition, but is struggling with ever stronger competition. …Camilleri focuses attention on Jesmark’s drama, drawing a broader social and political background at the same time. The blame for the deteriorating fate of Maltese fishermen is not only on the black market, but also stringent EU legislation, progressive environmental degradation and the incipient climate catastrophe. Most of all, however, Luzzu is an emotional portrait of a man whose stable life begins to fall apart overnight. (Jakub Demiańczuk)
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on El Planeta: El Planeta is the wittily droll feature debut of New York–based Argentinian artist Amalia Ulman, …Here, she once again blurs fantasy and reality, starring opposite her actual mother, Ale Ulman, in a semi-autobiographical story of economic hardship that is also inspired by an infamous real-world mother–daughter pair of con artists. Charmingly loose and informal, this film paints a playful and disarming picture of life on the edges.
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Death of a Virgin, and the Sin of Not Living: Excited, gilded by the afternoon sunlight, the boys step boldly, as if the world belonged to them. They don’t yet know that they belong to the world: it directs their path and the shape of their masculinity, prompts them with dialogues, and directs disappointing, humiliating rituals of passage. …Brought up in a patriarchal culture, young men have – against bold plans – limited opportunities, and the foundations of their power have long been rotten. Delicate beneath a chatty, cheerful surface, the debut of Lebanese director George Peter Barbari, successfully combines realism with poetry, and the gentle movements of the camera embrace the heroes in a gesture they would never have made themselves. (Małgorzata Sadowska)