34th edition of the Warsaw Film Festival from October 12 to 21. A compelling programme of five competitive sections and five non-competitive, 15 world premieres, 18 international premieres, 5 European premieres, more than 100 films, over 60 countries, films and documentaries from all over the world characterized by originality in expression and independence in story telling.
A TRAMWAY IN JERUSALEM by Amos Gitai – On a tramway that connects several of the city’s neighborhoods from Jewish West and Arab East, people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds meet on board every day, Jewish West and Arab East. A drama-comedy, halfway fiction and documentary, centered on the daily life of a divided city symbolically united through shared public transport.
SCHOOL SERVICE by Luisito Lagdameo Ignacio – Every day Maya takes a regular school bus. One day she takes a wrong one. A driver offers her a ride but the bus did not stop at her place. Maya has been kidnapped and together with other kids forced to become a beggar in the streets of Manila. A shocking portrayal of children living in the streets in the Philippines, working for organized crime rings.
THE DELEGATION by Bujar Alimani – October 1990, the communist regime in Albania is trying to hold on to power. A European delegation comes to Tirana to monitor the government’s implementation of reforms conditioning Albania’s admission into the OSCE. Leo, a political prisoner for 15 years, is secretly taken out of a remote prison and brought to the capital. The European delegation is headed by an old schoolmate of Leo’s. The government wants him to convince his old friend that everything’s fine.
COMPETITION I & II, first and second feature films
THE THIRD WIFE by Ash Mayfair – May is a child bride in the 19th-century Vietnam. At the age of fourteen she enters an arranged marriage to the wealthy landowner Hung. May feels insecure in the vast estate, even though her husband’s two other mistresses make her feel comfortable, sharing her experiences with Hung, teaching about seduction and sex as well as the strict hierarchy of the estate. Soon May realizes that the only way to obtain significant status in the household is by giving birth to a male child. An intimate insight into the rigidness of a patriarchal system based on faith and tradition, a story of female subjugation.
X – THE EXPLOITED by Károly Ujj Mészáros – A single mother, a policewoman suffering from serious panic disorder being on permanent office duty for more than a decade discoveres a serial murder case. A moving personal drama and a gripping investigation, resulting in concealed and horrendous crimes, show many layers of contemporary Hungary, where the historical and recent past still haunts people.
FREE SPIRIT COMPETITION, independant and innovative films and documentaries from all over the world
BEFORE THE FERRY ARRIVES by Juan Caunedo Domínguez – A portrait of Havana in the middle of the whirlwind caused by the 2015 announcement that US-Cuban relations would be restored. As a manifestation of this, a ferry service was to resume between the two countries after more than 50 years. A sense of uncertainty and vertigo in the Surrealist Republic of Cuba.
LAJKO – GYPSY IN SPACE by Balázs Lengyel – A black comedy that allows us to learn that the first living being in space was not actually a dog called Lajka, but a Hungarian crop-sprayer by the name of Lajko. It is 1957 and the Soviet Union decides to give Hungary the honour of providing the first human to orbit in space. The most suitable candidate turns out to be Lajko, a quiet man lifelong attracted by the unexplored infinity of outer space. He cannot believe his good fortune, being unaware of the reason why they chose him for this mission.
METAL POLITICS TAIWAN by Marco Wilms – Freddy Lim is a founder and singer of the famous black metal band Chthonic from Taiwan and a member of the Taiwanese parliament since 2016, sitting on the committees for National Defence and Foreign Affairs. During his first year in political office he opposed China’s policy towards Taiwan and Tibet, fighting for human rights and advocatig for Dalai Lama. A controversial man profoundly engaged with politics and metal music.
THE CACOPHONY OF DONBAS by Igor Minaiev – A documentary about the elite of the working class of the Soviet Union, the miners of the Donbas. Soviet propaganda created such a false parallel reality, the joy of work and wellbeing turned out to be deceit and manipulation. “The Symphony of Donbas” has turned into “The Cacophony of Donbas”.
FADING MOUNTAINS by Yuxi Cui – About 900,000 natural villages have disappeared in China over the past 10 years in the aftermate of China’s impressive economic rise and the unchecked urbanization. Nangang village in the Guangdong province still survives thanks to the Yao ethnic minority. A delicate portrait of two elderly people celebrating the Chinese version of romantic Valentine’s Day by dancing, singing and playing traditional drums.
A TWELVE-YEAR NIGHT by Álvaro Brechner – Based on true events the story of three men who were subjected to a secret experiment by the military dictatorship who wanted to drive them mad. Among the hostages the former president José Mujica, who was held prisoner for 12 years, between 1972 and 1985.
LAND by Babak Jalali – The indigenous North American Denetclaw family lives on the Prairie Wolf reservation. Wesley is an alcoholic. Every morning he goes across the border to where the white population runs liquor stores. One day they are informed that Floyd, the youngest son of the family, has died during military service in Afghanistan. The family is confronted with the unexpected difficulty of bringing back his body and bury in the reservation. A profound snapshot on the situation of Native Americans in the United States.
THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE by Denys Arcand – Pierre-Paul Daoust is a 36-year-old with a PhD in philosophy. To make ends meet, he has to work as a courier. One day, while delivering a parcel, Pierre-Paul gets caught in a hold-up in a boutique. Two dead and a bag with millions lying on the ground. A satire on the predominance of money in the contemporary society in Quebec.
THE RIVER by Emir Baigazin – Set in Kazakhstan the story of a family. Five sons live isolated from the modern world under the control of the father who impose on them a strict sense of discipline. A nearby river is their secret refuge from his authority. One day a boy in city clothes arrives carrying an iPad and a different way of living.
TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD by Guillaume Nicloux – ‘Operation Bright Moon’, a Japanese coup d’état in the former French Indochina on March 9, 1945. Several thousand Frenchmen were killed in the massacre. Young French soldier, Robert Tassen, sees his brother and his pregnant sister-in-law killed before his very eyes. A traumatic experience that will never leave him. The only thing keeping him alive is his desire for vengeance. He sets off alone on a secret mission to find the instigator of the massacre, Vietnamese General Vo Binh.
MANTA RAY by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng – In a village of Thailand by the sea where thousands of Rohingya refugees have drowned, a local fisherman finds a man lying unconscious in the forest. He rescues him and names him Thongchai. When the fisherman goes on a fishing trip, Thongchai slowly takes over his life, his house, his ex-wife.
ON HER SHOULDERS by Alexandria Bombach – Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi, survived genocide and sexual slavery committed by IS. Her story, relentlessly recounted on radio shows, thrusts this ordinary girl onto the world stage even on the floor of the United Nation making her the voice of her people. From the refugee camps in Greece to the halls of power, we observe a woman repurpose unimaginable trauma into a powerful rallying cry for justice.
RAFIKI by Wanuri Kahi – Kena and Ziki are close friends but long for something more. Their fathers are political rivals in the local elections, the girls remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, things get much more complicated as in Kenya their relationship is unacceptable and strictly forbidden by law.
SIR by Rohena Gera – Young widow Ratna leaves her village for Mumbai, where she’s employed as a maid in a luxurious flat belonging to Ashwin. She sends all the money to her sister, to save her from an arranged marriage. Little by little, Ratna and “Sir” begin to talk and get involved with each other. They belong to different castes, different worlds, but soon they connect. A romantic tale set in the context of the immutable caste system in India.
THE DIVE by Yona Rozenkier – Three brothers – Yoav, Itai and Avi – reunite in their native kibbutz on the border with Lebanon to bury their father together. As war rages all around them, Avi, the youngest of the three, is nearing the end of his compulsory military training and anxious about heading to war. Both Yoav and Itai went fighting and still bear the scars. Itai wants to help Avi be the best soldier he can, Yoav would prefer to have nothing to do with the reunion. Soon the homecoming for all of them spins out of control.
ROCKABUL by Travis Beard – In 2009 film director became fascinated with the complicated story of Kabul’s only metal band, the District Unknown, in a country where rock music is strictly banned and seen as satanic. Thanks to Beard, the self-taught band became famous beyond Afghanistan’s borders that meant accracting attention from the fundamentalists talking about killing them. With the de-escalation of the American mission their situation can only change for the worse.
THE MAN WHO STOLE BANKSY by Marco Proserpio – In 2007, legendary street artist Banksy travelled to Palestine and painted a number of politically charged graffiti , including the artworks, called “Donkey Documents”, causing ire amongst some Palestinians, as they see it as literally depicting them as donkeys. A local taxi driver and bodybuilder known as Walid “the Beast” offended by a came up with the idea to cut out the entire cement wall containing the art and sell it online. Following the stolen graffiti, we discover a secret art market of stolen walls from around the world.