“Ricky D'Ambrose’s brilliant second film, which is effectively the director’s own coming-of-age story and the record of the gradual disintegration of his family, opens with a voiceover which is as peculiar as it is universal in the way the intimate and the personal become intertwined with the global history. D'Ambrose will stick to this principle throughout the movie which is intimate and epic at the same time, in its every shot which is poetical and political simultaneously. Thus for the protagonist the final falling apart of his big family which has been shrinking before our eyes, blots out even the catastrophe of the Twin Towers collapsing nearby.” Denis Ruzayev
Roman Mikhailov is one of the most popular modern-day writers. Among his admirers are philosophy students and theatre fans alike. He wrote another multi-character Russian fairy-tale and in collaboration with Fyodor Lavrov made a screen version of it, keeping his typical symbolic layers and allusions and at the same time granting the audience freedom of interpretation. The cult status of the movies is guaranteed by the meticulous choice of secondary actors (from Pakhom to Garkusha), by the music of “25/17”, the dark humor and the readily quoted dialogues. The possibility of multiple interpretations, the unconventional reflections about the world of the past, which has determined our present, make one want to come back to the “A Tale for the Old” again and again.
A second film is always a big challenge for a director who has made a breakthrough debut. A native of Khanty-Mansiysk, cineaste and a regular spectator of “Spirit of Fire” Alexander Khant did not disappoint those who had believed in him: he again tuned in to the wave of modernity, examines eternal themes in the format of catchy and energetic festival cinema. In “Viktor “the Garlic”...” he covered the conflict of fathers and sons, in “In Limbo” he explores the teenage fear of restlessness, within a painful actual context. Khant is always with the young, believes in them, loves them, gives his hand to them: any viewer will undoubtedly remember the final shot of the new film.
Christopher Small is one of the prominent contemporary film critics and curators, known for his wide-ranging interests. He admires “Golden Hollywood”, can discuss silent Japanese cinema and is uncommonly well-versed in modern-day filmmaking. Making a movie is a bold and risky step. He turns to the material he is familiar with – a Utopian festival universe abounding in possibilities and inevitable disappointments (today it is perceived as a sort of retro since the pandemic has dealt a serious blow to this world). Small avoids the main pitfall: “Communists!” is not a work for a few chosen film buffs (though for them there are friendly allusions like a tune from Jacques Rivette’s “Out 1”) but rather an attempt to start a universal conversation about the place of art and artist in the modern world. Small is not afraid to be (self)critical, is not shy about the fragility of his film which means that it is open to real beauty and reflections.
Roee Rosen is one of the most unusual and self-contradictory modern artists, which is further corroborated by his feature debut. Surrealism, musical and satire are only some of the instruments he expertly uses to subject his own work to Kafkian metamorphoses. Despite its unique humor, his film takes a sober and sad grown-up look at the modern world where people are always separated by borders. One consolation is the music by the toy orchestra of Igor Krutogolov who is the founder of the “Krusenstern and parokhod” music group.
There are few attempts in cinema to make the impossible screen versions of the heritage of Georges Bataille, famous for “Le Bleu du ciel” and “L’Expérience intérieure”. A rare exception is an original interpretation of “Histoire de l'œil” by Ivan Cardoso who was a guest at last year’s “Spirit of Fire”. Antoni Collot has set himself an even more challenging task: Jojo is young Bataille. But it is the opposite of the traditional biopic: Jojo has a dream, Jojo is making sense of life, the boys memorizes Baudelaire’s verses, for the first time learns what poetry, death, illness, growing old mean. Collot’s movie, shot almost on his own, is a documentary fantasy, a spiritualistic séance, an imaginary conversation with his beloved writer.
Who is Beatrix? This is a major mystery of this movie. The authors named her after the main character of the short story “Probleme, Probleme” by the Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann, who is tired of social life obligations. Czernovsky and Kraxner comment that Beatrix “embodies a generation that is characterized by boundless possibilities, that often lead to an aimless search. Overwhelmed by the freedom of choice, she chooses to do nothing at all”. Exquisite 16-mm footage does not only belong to the cultural canon of Vera Chytilová, Chantal Akerman and Valie Export, but expands it, in particular thanks to the intensive on-screen presence of Eva Sommer with her unusually nuanced professional performance.
The story of American astronauts’ landing on the Moon has fascinated many generations of conspiracists, dreamers and filmmakers. What else is there to be said about it? Lucas Larriera, one of the best Argentinean sound directors (there are more than a hundred titles in his filmography), devoted decades to investigating this problem. His interest stems from media archeology among other things: he studies well-known footage as well as their copies published in long-forgotten magazines. The director’s lasting interest in the topic carries a shade of the melancholy obsession, of the doomed attempt to interpret the world and find the meaning and logic in life, of the quest for the impossible. Fittingly, Larriera adds a personal dimension to the movie – a film about space and our planet’s satellite is bound to touch upon loss and grief.
Zhang Dalei the visionary has mastered the intricacies of genre cinema and this time offers a surrealist take at gangster melodrama and neo-noir. But evidently, still being under a deep influence of his studies in St. Petersburg, he places his characters in a dream-like universe of an imaginary Kupchino, which calls to mind the most extravagant Russian pictures of the late 80's – early 90’s. He has chosen a line from a song by the “Mirage” group as the title of the movie, has sent his characters to a concert by the “Kino” group, he has been inspired by Sergey Solovyov’s “Assa”. The result is an innovative Chinese movie and simultaneously a stranger’s love-letter to Russian culture.
“This is an independent movie which the director, cinematographer, editor and leading actor Vadim Kostrov shot without a budget. The protagonist spends the last days of summer in his hometown which gradually evolves into and on-screen mythic kingdom of eternal farewells. Nominally this anthology of partings, multiplying the experience of the Antique musician Orpheus, should be considered fiction, but the boundary between truth and fantasy, between characters and actors shimmers and dissolves. Everything is ghostly in the fluid, sad and tender, absolutely genuine and invented, earthly and otherworldly Nizhy Tagil. It is like some eerie underworld, a post-rock meditation or early films by Sharunas Bartas, whose film “Freedom” is quoted in “Orpheus”. Vadim Rutkovsky
This is Lois Patiño’s second feature. For more than a decade he has been researching into Galician imagination, sexuality and identity. In “Red Moon Tide” he seems to hypnotize the audience, turning documentary footage and myths of a fishing village into a horror movie. The fragile world is frozen in anticipation of the arrival of the Monster, which, as the legend has it, is coupled with the rise of the red moon. In his films Patiño handles the camera himself and his new movie is another proof of his unique visual gift.
Raquel Chalfi, a prominent poetess and a pioneer of Israeli experimental cinema, devoted almost thirty years of her life to this film. The modest and reserved movie may seem a personal testimony, an autobiography, but it is an exquisitely tactful treatise on life and art, and on how one is inseparable from the other. What is art? What is sculpture? How is abstract sculpture born and where does it come from? How does it find its place once transported from the artist’s workshop into a park filled with trees, wind and birds? Every cut, every shot of this poetic movie is saturated with deep emotions which only cinema can convey.
Venture investor Dmitry Falkovich instantly won the full-fledged title of a filmmaker thanks to his debut, “Ivanov”, which won the “Spirit of Fire” main prize (this award can be seen in his new film). In the film's meaningful finale, the fate of the protagonist is left to doubt, but as we learn in “Prolonging Life”, which begins with a screening of “Ivanov”, it was only cinema. Then real life begins: Falkovich and his wife Katya play themselves and their life in London. Though it is the first document of Russian emigration in Britain , it captures our attention primarily by its careful intonation, interest to details and delicate color palette. “Prolonging Life”, enriched with new contexts in the period of the world epidemic, is an important addition to the Russian literary and cinematic traditions, to the feelings of intelligentsia.
«The most compact epic ever. The mutual journey of the boy and his alcoholic dad is both a real horror and movement towards spiritual rapport but without trite humanitarian clichés and wretched dramatic gimmicks. It is fair play against the background of spacious landscapes, indifferent to petty human squabbles. But they do matter to the brilliant first-timer Vinothraj, whose biography is similar to that of Tarantino, incredible as it may seem. His path to film directing began in a DVD shop in Tamil Nadu». Vadim Rutkovsky
Philippine cinema is known for its attempts to redeem the missing archive and close the gaps in the hushed-up history of the country. Jon Lazam goes a step further along the revolutionary path. “Tug” is neither reconstruction, nor art-house homage. It is an artifact which appeared out of nowhere like the first films which were not made by the Lumiere brothers but by nameless artisans. The purity of his method gives a sensation that cinema has been invented by the director before our very eyes. At the same time “Tug” does not ignore its predecessors and similar to silent Hollywood it records melancholy days and tempestuous nights, the realism of daily life and the fantasy of imagination, it finds beauty in recreation parks and the art of clowns and it does not shun away from gloomy social underworld.
This jail exists in real life and the director knows about it from experience. As a child Lacôte visited his mother who was an inmate there. Though instead of the stale naturalistic prison drama the viewer will see something totally different. It is a visual allegory of politics and the power of imagination and art. The unpredictable trajectory of the movie balances between a fairy-tale, a musical, a dance, ritual theatre and even Afro-fantasy. The long night comes to a close.