EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS 2008
in alphabetical order (please note that articles (a, the/le, la/el, il, etc) are ignored)
3 DIAS (Before the Fall), Spain
directed by Francisco Javier Gutierrez
written by Juan Velarde & F. Javier Gutierrez
produced by Maestranza Films, Green Moon Prod., Pentagrama
Synopsis: What would you do if the world was going to end in 72 hours? What would your neighbours, your family, the whole world do? The Secretary General of the Council of Nations has announced that a gigantic meteorite is hurtling towards Earth. Its impact in three days time will wipe out life on the planet. The world is swept by despair, chaos and death. The inhabitants of the isolated town of Laguna listen in terror to the news. Seeing the collective hysteria, Ale, a frustrated young man who lives with his mother and does odd jobs around the town, decides to spend his final days shut away in his house, getting drunk and listening music. The streets of the town are filled with chaos: some people flee aimlessly, other commit suicide; there are all kinds of outrages, robberies and crimes… To Ale’s surprise, his mother Rosa decides to go to this brother’s Tomás’ house. Tomás lives outside of town with his wife and four children. Prisoners are escaping from the jails and Rosa is afraid that among the fugitives there may be someone she knows. A violent criminal who has an obscure link with Tomás. When she reaches the house, Rosa discovers that the parents are away. As a result, Ale’s plans are changes when he finds himself forced to help his mother protect his brother’s four children from the imminent threat by that sinister, macabre character.
Three days that will make Ale wish that the end of the world had already arrived. Three days that will lead Ale, for the first time, to discover the meaning of life.
directed by Nikita Mikhalkov
written by Nikita Mikhalkov, Alexander Novototsky-Vlasov & Vladimir Moiseenko
produced by Three T Productions
Synopsis: 12 jurors from various walks of life, different social status, are in session deciding on the fate of a Chechen teenager charged with murder in the first degree of his step father, former officer of Spetsnaz, who had been involved in operations in Chechnya.
Simple words of one of the jurors: "Let us at least simply talk about it" cause rage of others. In their view there is nothing to talk about when both the investigators and the prosecutor said "guilty". They are more clever and competent than we are. What is there to talk about then? It looks like there is.
Every character bears a grudge and pain for some unfairness which once happened in his life or in the life of a relative or a friend. And we find out that law cannot exist in our country in an emotionless context. The law touches upon the soul of someone who is chosen to make a decision. And there is something to talk about here!
One's own pain, suffering and compassion struggle through another dimension. Could the boy at least have been Russian! But he is a Chechen. A person from an ethnicity with which Russia for centuries has been in the turmoil of a conflict.
Not only the legal facts, but more their understanding of the psychology of those who had been giving evidence against the boy, is what makes the jurors gradually change their verdict.
And still, at the end of the tunnel there remains one question: what is freedom? For the boy, for the jurors, for everybody living in this country.
Photos: Milena Botowa
AANRIJDING IN MOSCOU (Moscow, Belgium), Belgium
directed by Christophe van Rompaey
written by Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem & Pat van Beirs
produced by A Private View
Synopsis: Matty (41), mother of three, bumps her car into a truck on the parking lot of a supermarket. Johnny (29) climbs down from the cabin. He is infuriated by the dent in his front bumper and yells at Matty. Although impressed by the accident, Matty fights back with sharp words. Their discussion turns into a row, and the police have to intervene. A few days later, Johnny rings the doorbell. He apologizes and fixes the dent in the trunk of Matty’s car. Matty’s children are stunned when witnessing the first sparkles between Matty and the so much younger Johnny. While Johnny shows his romantic side, Matty’s almost ex-husband and artist Werner gets back into the play ...
MOSCOW, BELGIUM is a romantic comedy about a woman whose soul is full of dents and bruises. In the best tradition of British working class cinema, MOSCOW, BELGIUM shows real people that feature their own kind of humour in dealing with the smaller and bigger obstacles on their bumpy road to happiness – or the Flemish equivalent of it.
Film still: © A Private View / Portrait: Kris Dewitte
directed by Joe Wright
written by Christopher Hampton
produced by Universal Pictures, Working Title, Studio Canal, Relativity Media
Synopsis: The film opens in England in 1935, on the hottest day of the year. In the looming shadow of World War II Briony Tallis and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous Victorian Gothic mansion. As the family gathers for the weekend the combination of the oppressive heat and long suppressed emotions coming to the surface create an ominous sense of threat and danger. Briony, a fledgling writer, is a girl with a vivid imagination. Through a series of catastrophic misunderstandings she accuses Robbie Turner, the housekeeper’s son and lover of her sister Cecilia, of a crime he did not commit. This accusation destroys Robbie and Cecilia’s new found love and dramatically alters the course of all their lives.
Pictures: Alex Bailey © 2008 Universal Studios.
BATTLE FOR HADITHA, UK
directed by Nick Broomfield
written by Nick Broomfield, Marc Hoeferlin & Anna Telford
produced by Lafayette Films, Film 4
Synopsis: November 19th 2005, Haditha, Iraq
Iraqi insurgents bomb a convoy of US Marines, resulting in the death of their most popular officer. Enraged by this loss, his young Marine buddies carry out a brutal retaliation. Their violent house-searches lead to the massacre of 24 people, many of whom are women and children - tragic casualties of a war they cannot control.
The Marines too are victims, attacked, wounded, and forced to respond in the way they have been trained. But when events occur at great speed and under extreme stress, can Marines in the line of fire is accused of murder?
Hanway Films presents “Battle for Haditha.” Directed, produced, and written by Nick Broomfield (Ghosts, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer). The film stars ex-marines Elliot Ruiz, Andrew McLaren, and Eric Mehalacopoulos, and was filmed entirely on location in Jerash, Jordan.
The trial of the US marines involved in Haditha is currently underway at Camp Pendleton, California.
Film still: Barney Broomfield
BIENVENUE CHEZ LES CH'TIS (Welcome to the Sticks), France
directed by Dany Boon
written by Dany Boon, Franck Manier & Alexandre Charlot
produced by Hirsch, Pathé, TF1 Films Production, Les Productions du Ch’Timi, C.R.R.A.V Nord Pas De Calais
Synopsis: Philippe Abrams is a post offi ce manager in the beatiful southern city of Salon de Provence. His wife Julie’s frequent bouts of depression make his life a living hell. In an effort to raise her spirits, Philippe tries to cheat his way into a transfer to the French Riviera. But when he is found out, he gets sent to a little town in northern France called Bergues.
The Abrams are tried-and-true southerners whose prejudicial view of the north is one of horror - biting cold, and louts who speak a garbled and incomprehensible dialect called «ch’timi». Philippe will go alone. To his great surprise, he finds himself in a charming place, working with people who are warm, friendly and welcoming. He makes a friend - Antoine, the village postman and carillon player, who has a tough-luck love-life and a possessive mother.
When Philippe goes back to Salon, Julie refuses to believe that he likes it up north. In fact, she’s convinced he’s lying to preserve her feelings. To satisfy her and make his life simpler, Philippe leads her to believe that he is indeed having a terrible time of it in Bergues.
From that moment on, he sinks deeper and deeper into a comfortable lie. For two week intervals, he and Antoine have a grand old time up north and then, every other weekend, he is pampered and consoled by his wife who, little by little, overcomes her depression. Everything goes just fi ne until Julie decides to join Philippe in Bergues, to help him through what she believes is a terrible ordeal.
Philippe is forced to admit to Antoine and the rest of his staff that he has described them to his wife as a bunch of barbarians. He begs them to behave as such in order to cover his lie and scare Julie into leaving as quickly as possible. Philippe’s employees reluctantly go along with this masquerade and give Julie the worst time
of her life.
But Julie finds them out…
Film still: Jean-Claude Lother / Portrait: Philippe Leroux - Sipa Presse
directed by Radu Muntean
written by Radu Muntean, Alexandru Baciu & Rāzvan Rādulescu
produced by Multi Media Est, Antena 1
Synopsis: Life for Bogdan couldn't seem more blissful, sea-vacationing along with his gorgeous wife and adorable young son. He has grown up: the days of glorious drinking trips and sexual adventures are long gone... But when Bogdan unexpectedly runs into his best friends from high school, vivid memories immediately flood back. Suddenly, he hears the wild call of bachelor life. Torn between his family obligations and the lure of a fun night out with his old friends, Bogdan — or Boogie, as he was known back then – comes to a realization. The gaps between his childhood pals have grown wider. Friendship, it seems, can no longer be based on common tastes in women, beer, or football teams.
Boogie: A coming-of-age for a new generation.
CAOTICA ANA, Spain
written and directed by Julio Medem
produced by Sociedad General de Cine S.A., Alicia Produce, S.L., Volcano Internationals Productions S.L.
Synopsis: Ana is a beautiful 18-year-old free-spirited girl living in Ibiza. She devotes her passion for life into her naive paintings. One day, Justine, a cosmopolitan patron of the arts, invites Ana to explore her work further by moving to Madrid, where she will live amongst a group of young srtists that Justine protects. This is the beginning of a journey that will send Ana to new continents, prompting her to uncover, through hypnosis, her past lives that have crossed centuries of remote myths. Ana will be challenged to break the chain of ancestral violence that lingers in her chaotic soul.
UN CONTE DE NOËL (A Christmas Tale), France
directed by Arnaud Desplechin
written by Arnaud Desplechin & Emmanuel Bourdieu
produced by Why Not Productions, France 2 Cinéma, Wild Bunch, BAC Films
Synopsis: Abel and Junon had two children, Joseph and Elizabeth. Victim of a rare genetic condition, Joseph's only hope was a bone marrow transplant. As they and Elizabeth were incompatible, his parents conceived a third child in the hope of saving their son. But little Henri too was unable to help his brother, and Joseph died at the age of seven.
The Vuillard family has never recovered. Many years have passed, and family relationships are more strained than ever. In particular, those between Elizabeth, authoritarian head of the family and Henri, a cynical drop out who divides his time between women and drink. After a violent argument, Elizabeth banishes her feckless brother, cutting him off from his nephew, her son Paul - a tortured adolescent beset by serious mental problems.
CZTERY NOCE Z ANNA (Four Nights With Anna), Poland
directed by Jerzy Skolimowski
written by Ewa Piaskowska & Jerzy Skolimowski
produced by Skopia Film, Alfama Films, Telewizja Polska
Synopsis: „Four Nights with Anna“ explores the amour fou of a crematory worker. Leon falls in love with a nurse and obsessively tries to get close to her. He ends up drugging her with sleeping pills and sneaking into her room through the window. He spends long hours by the side of the sleeping woman, getting more and more bold with each visit.
directed by Kornél Mundruczó
written by Yvette Bíró & Kornél Mundruczó
produced by Proton Cinema, Essential Filmproduktion, Filmpartners
Synopsis: A quiet young man returns to the wild, isolated landscape of the Delta. It is a labyrinth of waterways, small islands and over-grown vegetation, where the villagers are cut off from the outside world. The young man, who has been away since early childhood, is introduced to a sister he never knew he had. She is frail and timid, but resolute when she decides to join him in his run-down hut on the shore. Together they build a house on stilts in the middle of the river, far away from everyone else. One day, they invite the villagers over to share a meal together, but it becomes apparent that the coarse locals do not accept their “unnatural” relationship.
DIORTHOSI (Correction), Greece
directed by Thanos Anastopoulos
written by Thanos Anastopoulos & Vassilis Raisis
produced by Fantasia LTD, Thanos Anastopoulos, Nova, Greek Film Centre
Synopsis: A man gets out of prison. Like a modern Ulysses he will undertake a homeless journey into contemporary Athens peopled by migrants, homeless, and other marginalized persons of the society. On his way he will meet a woman and a little girl. Are the three of them members of a disrupted family or just persecutors and victims of a violent and conflict driven society that prevents them from living together?
IL DIVO, Italy
written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino
produced by Indigofilm, Lucky Red, Parco Film, Babe Films, StudioCanal, Arte France Cinéma
Synopsis: In Rome, at dawn, when everyone is sleeping, one man is awake. That man is Giulio Andreotti. He’s awake because he has to work, write books, move in fashionable circles and, last but not least, pray. Calm, crafty and inscrutable, Andreotti is synonym of power in Italy for over four decades. At the beginning of the Nineties, this impassive yet insinuating, ambiguous yet reassuring figure appears set to assume his seventh mandate as Prime Minister without arrogance and without humility.
Approaching seventy, Andreotti is a gerontocrat who, with all the attributes of God, is afraid of no one and does not know the meaning of awe, since he is accustomed to seeing it stamped on the faces of all his interlocutors. His satisfaction is muted, impalpable. For him, satisfaction is power, with which he has a symbiotic relationship. Power the way he likes it. Unwavering and immutable, from the outset. He emerges unscathed from everything: electoral battles, terrorist massacres, slanderous accusations.
He is untouched by it all, unchanging.
Until the strongest counter power in Italy, the Mafia, declares war on him.
Then things change. Perhaps even for the enigmatic, immortal Andreotti.
But the question is: do they really change or only appear to?
We can be sure of one thing: it is difficult to tarnish Andreotti, the man who knows the ways of the world better than any of us.
DUSKA, The Netherlands
directed by Jos Stelling
written by Jos Stelling & Hans Heessen
produced by Eyeworks Egmond, NPS Television, Jos Stelling Films, TVIndie Film Production, Molodist Film Festival
Synopsis: Duska is the imaginative story of Bob (Gène Bervoets), who has the best part of his life behind him. He is addicted to film, has visited several festivals as a film critic and is now working on his own screenplay. His muse and inspiration is the attractive, young and unattainable cashier (Sylvia Hoeks) from the movie theatre across the street. But when Bob's desire for the girl finally becomes reality and she ends up at his house, a man named Duska (Sergei Makovetsky) suddenly appears at his door. The timing couldn't be worse. Bob had met this friendly loser once at a Russian film festival, and in a reckless mood had invited him to come and visit if he was in the neighbourhood. That was the worst thing he could have done; Duska is not about to leave Bob alone, resulting in an original tragicomedy full of surprising twists.
directed by Declan Recks
written by Eugene O’Brien
produced by Samson Films
Synopsis: EDEN is the screen adaptation of Eugene O’Brien’s critically acclaimed, award-winning play of the same name. Set in a thriving midlands town, EDEN tells the story of a week in the lives of Billy and Breda Farrell as they approach their 10th wedding anniversary. Breda is determined that the milestone will re-ignite the passion in their marriage. Billy, on the other hand, has developed an obsession with Imelda Egan, a pretty but unobtainable local young thing, and has convinced himself that the coming weekend will see them become lovers under the eyes of everyone. As the date draws closer, Billy’s behaviour becomes more and more chaotic, while Breda’s frustrations crystalise and find more mature, high-risk expression
Picture: © Bernard Walsh
ENTRE LES MURS (The Class), France
directed by Laurent Cantet
written by Laurent Cantet, François Begaudeau & Robin Campillo after the novel of François Begaudeau
produced by Haut et Court, France 2 Cinéma
Synopsis: François and his fellow teachers prepare for a new year at a high school in a tough neighbourhood. Armed with the best intentins, they brace themselves to not let discouragement stop them from trying to give the best education to their students.
Cultures and attitudes often clash in the classroom, a microcosm of contemporary France. As amusing and inspiring as the teenaged students can be, their difficult behaviour can still jeopardise any teacher's enthusiasm for the low-paying job.
François insists on an atmosphere of respect and diligence. Neither stuffy nor severe, his extravagant frankness often takes the students by surprise. But his classroom ethics are put to the test when his students begin to challenge his methods...
FLAMMEN & CITRONEN (Flame & Citron), Denmark
directed by Ole Christian Madsen
written by Lars K. Andersen
produced by Nimbus Film, Wüste Filmproduktion, Wüste Film Ost, Studio Babelsberg, OC Film, Sirena Film, Duckling, Mainstream, Kameraudlejningen, 4 ½
Synopsis: Copenhagen, 1944. Denmark is occupied by Nazi Germany. Flame and Citron are two legendary resistance fighters charged with liquidating Danish informers. By order of their commander, they now consent to kill Germans as well. But when Flame is asked to execute his girlfriend Ketty, an enigmatic Stockholm courier, he questions his orders wondering who Ketty really is? In thes truggle for freedom all zones appear grey and it becomes increasingly unclear who is friend and sho is foe. Based on true events.
Film still: Erik Aavatsmark / Portrait: Jan Buus
GIORNI E NUVOLE (Days and Clouds), Italy/Switzerland
directed by Silvio Soldini
written by Doriana Leondeff, Francesco Piccolo, Federica Pontremoli & Silvio Soldini
produced by Lumière & Co., Amka Films Productions, RTSI – televisione svizzera, Eurimages
Synopsis: Silvio Soldini's GIORNI E NUVOLE / DAYS AND CLOUDS, co-written with Doriana Leondeff, Francesco Piccolo and Federica Pontremoli, is the story of Elsa and Michele, a respectable well-off couple. They have a daughter, now twenty, and a life of ease that is finally going to make it possible for Elsa to give up working and fulfil her lifetime dream: to go back to school and get her degree in art history.
Yet, it is precisely at that moment that the bottom drops out of their world. Michele suddenly confesses that he has been out of a job for two months, having been dismissed by the very company he himself had created years before. And not only that: the very roof over their heads, the house, is up for sale. With their savings in the bank dwindling fast …
Elsa, of course, is stunned. Shocked by the crisis, however, she suddenly seems to draw upon new energy to face the situation. Michele, on the other hand, completely discouraged by his vain attempts to find another job, completely loses control, swinging from futile wild hopes to listless apathy.
The abyss between Elsa and Michele grows greater and greater, finally bringing them to the verge of a break up. Facing life without the other, accompanied by only the absence of the other, they begin to truly realise the treasure they are losing forever. The precious love that binds and protects them.
Life for Elsa and Michele will certainly not be easy as they face the unknown and very different future, yet perhaps that future may even be for the better.
GOMORRA (Gomorrah), Italy
directed by Matteo Garrone
written by Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni di Gregorio & Matteo Garrone & Massimo Gaudioso & Roberto Saviano
produced by Fandango, RAI Cinema
Synopsis: Power, money and blood: these are the “values” that the residents of the province of Naples and Caserta confront every day. They have practically no choice, and are forced to obey the rules of the “System”, the Camorra.
Only a lucky few can even think of leading a “normal” life.Five stories are woven together in this violent scenario, set in a cruel and ostensibly invented world, but one that is deeply rooted in reality.
Pictures: © 2008 PROKINO Filmverleih GmbH
LA GRAINE ET LE MULET (The Secret of the Grain - Couscous), France
written and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
produced by Hirsch / Pathé Renn Production, France 2 Cinéma
Synopsis: The city of Sète, on the harbor.
Monsieur Slimani, a broken-down man of sixty, is still working at the shipyard, the
job getting harder as the years go by. He’s divorced and doing all he can to stay
close to his family. A history of break-ups and conflict is always just beneath the
surface and money troubles only make matters worse. In these difficult times, it
seems everything adds to Monsieur Slimani’s feeling of helplessness and failure.
He constantly thinks about his one way out – creating his own business, a restaurant.
Not an easy proposition, though, since his slim and irregular income hardly
provides what he needs for start-up. But that doesn’t stop him from dreaming,
and it doesn’t stop him from talking about his dream, to his family, among others.
Little by little, the family pulls together around the project, which, for each and
every member, becomes the symbol of a better life. Their go-to spirit and unflagging
efforts eventually make that dream come true... sort of.
written and directed by Mike Leigh
produced by Thin Man Films Ltd., Summit Entertainement, Ingenious Film Partners, Film4, UK Film Council
Synopsis: Poppy is a young primary school teacher. A free spirit, she is open and generous – as funny and anarchic as she is focussed and responsible.
She has time for everybody, and whoever she meets falls in love with her.
She loves the children she teaches, and works hard. She shares a flat with a girlfriend, enjoys her social life, is caring towards her younger sisters, and takes flamenco and trampoline lessons. When she starts driving lessons, her maturity and her sense of humour help her to deal with a manic instructor. Comfortable with being single, she meets through work a guy with whom she really clicks.
directed by Ursula Meier
written by Ursula Meier, Antoine Jaccoud & Rapaëlle Valbrunne
produced by Box Productions sarl, Renens VD, Archipel 35, Need Productions, TSR, SRG SSR idée Suisse, France 3, RTBF
Synopsis: A family's peaceful existence is threatened when a busy highway is opened only meters away from their isolated house in the middle of nowhere. Refusing to move, Marthe, Michel and their three children find innovative ways to adapt to their new environment. They continue their happy-go-lucky routine despite the daily stress of hundreds of noisy speeding cars. But suspicions about the highway's unknown long-term dangers cause family tension. Remaining in the disrupted household might not be so easy, but it's still their home.
Portrait: © PA Thiébaud
directed by Steve McQueen
written by Enda Walsh & Steve McQueen
produced by Blast! Films Production, Channel 4/Film 4, Northern Ireland Screen, The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, The Wales Creative IP Fund
Synopsis: Hunger follows life in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland with an interpretation of the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike, led by Bobby Sands. With an epic eye for detail, the film provides a timely exploration of what happens when body and mind are pushed to the uttermost limit.
Pictures: Blast!Films-Hunger Ltd
JAS SUM OD TITOV VELES (I am from Titov Veles), FYR Macedonia
written and directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska
produced by Sisters and Brother Mitevska Production, Entre Chien et Loup, Vertigo Film, Silkroad Production
Synopsis: We are three sisters; there is Sapho, Slavica and I.
Sapho is the youngest, she plays hand ball and goes out with men, many men, she has the disease of modern living, hopping from dick to dick, all in hope not to stay alone or at least leave this wretched place. I, Afrodita am her older twin, we do not look much alike, but we feel, I do not speak, I never have, and I am not stupid I just have a physical problem of not speaking.
Slavica is our older sister, she is thirty – five and had been on a methadone theraph for nine year, now, she is fine, she cooks, I clean and we keep the household going.
We live in Titov Veles, it is Veles now since Tito is gone, between ourselves we still call it Titov Veles. There is a lead factory Tito build in the time of communism or social democracy as he called it, the factory is in the center of the city and is polluting us all. Kids with two heads and seven fingers are being born, middle-aged men die prematurely, women get cancer.
I live in a community that is slowly dying and I only wonder when my turn will come. I am a virgin and 27, I am not a virgin because of my inability to speak, I have had many opportunities but I have not met the right one. Anyway, I do not like anyone plus we are busy at the moment looking for a suitable husband for Slavica. By me she is the most beautiful woman in Titov Veles. Our parents are not here, well our father died as soon as our mother left.
Now it is Sapho’s turn to leave, she spends most of her Mondays waiting at the Greek Embassy in Skopje. She is almost there, she says.
KÆRLIGHED PÅ FILM (Just Another Love Story), Denmark
written and directed by Ole Bornedal
produced by Thura Film A/S
Synopsis: Jonas is a nice, but worn-down husband and father, with a wife, two kids and a house in the suburbs. One day, his life takes a dramatic, unexpected turn when he is the likely cause of a young woman, Julia, crashing her car. The next day, Julia wakes up in the hospital with amnesia and Jonas comes to visit. In a grotesque mix-up, Julia and her family mistake Jonas for her new exotic boyfriend Sebastian, whose return from abroad they had all been expecting. Jonas assumes the other's identity, Playing the part of the man Julia considers the love of her life. A whole new identity, a whole new life, a wide open, boundless world opens up to Jonas. But life is not lived on fantasies and exotic dreams - and one day truth comes knocking at the door.
KARAMAZOVI (The Karamazovs), Czech Republic/Poland
written and directed by Petr Zelenka
produced by Prvni Verejnopravni, Warsaw Pact, Ceska Televize
Synopsis: On a hot summer day in Poland, a group of people walk through a run-down steel mill. They are actors, from a theater in Prague, and they're here to rehearse for a performance to be held in the space the next day. There are a few workers still on the job at this mill, the only living creatures left. They pay the actors little attention at first, pre-occupied with a personal tragedy: the day before, the son of a maintenance man fell from a catwalk and seriously injured his spine. Their interest is in his fate. Amid remnants of old machinery and old junk, the rehearsal begins. It is an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov." The investigation and trial for the murder of Old Karamazov. All the while, the "real world" of the workers remains at the edges of the performance. But the tragedy they're experiencing strikes similar chords as events within the play, and soon the two threads become inextricably knotted…
Film still: Mateusz Skalski
directed by Andrzej Wajda
written by Andrzej Wajda, Wladyslaw Pasikowski & Przemyslaw Nowakowski
produced by Akson Studio, TVP S.A. – Film Agency, Telekomunikacja Polska
Synopsis: KATYŃ is the story of Polish officers murdered by the NKVD in Katyń during WWII and their families who, unaware of the crime, were still waiting for their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers to return.
KATYŃ is also a film about an invincible struggle for memory and truth and an uncompromising reckoning with the lie of the communist powers created to force Poland to forget those who had been killed.
At the beginning of WWII on September 17, 1939 after Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland, the Red Army also trespassed on Polish soil on Joseph Stalin's orders. Consequently, all Polish officers found themselves in Soviet internment.
Anna, the wife of an Uhlan Regiment Captain, is waiting for her man, and although she is in denial, she receives undisputable evidence of his murder by the Russians. The wife of a General learns of her husband's death after the Germans discover mass graves of Polish officers in the Katyń Forest. Agnieszka, the sister of a pilot who has met the same fate as the other Polish soldiers, is broken-hearted by the silence and lies told about the crime. The Captain's friend Jerzy, who has entered the ranks of the Polish People's Army, is the only survivor.
What will become of these women, waiting for their beloved in the Polish state and who after the war are dependent on Soviet Russia? Will homeland and freedom retain the same meaning for those who have accepted the new system?
KIRSCHBLÜTEN - HANAMI (Cherry Blossoms - Hanami), Germany
written and directed by Doris Dörrie
produced by Olga Film GmbH, Bayerischer Rundfunk, ARD/Degeto, Arte
Synopsis: Only Trudi knows that her husband Rudi is suffering from a terminal illness. It is up to her to tell him or not. The doctor suggests that they do something together, perhaps something they were long planning to do… Trudi decides not to tell her husband about the gravity of his illness and to follow the doctor´s advice. She convinces Rudi to visit their children and grandchildren in Berlin. But once they arrive, they realize that their children are so busy with their own lives that they have no time for them. Then, suddenly, Trudi dies. Rudi is devastated and has no idea what to do next. From his daughter´s girlfriend he learns that Trudi´s love for him had led her to forego the life that she had wanted to live. He begins to see her with new eyes and vows to make up for her lost life. And so he embarks on his last journey - to Tokyo, in the midst of the cherry blossom festival, a celebration of beauty, impermanence and new beginnings…
LEMON TREE / עץ לימון, Israel/Germany/France
directed by Eran Riklis
written by Suha Arraf & Eran Riklis
produced by Eran Riklis Productions Ltd., Heimatfilm GmbH & Co. KG, Mact Productions, Riva Filmproduktion GmbH
Synopsis: Salma, a Palestinian widow, has to stand up against her new neighbor, the Israeli Defense Minister, when he moves into his new house opposite her lemon grove, on the green line border between Israel and the West Bank. The Israeli security forces are quick to declare that Salma's trees pose a threat to the Minister’s safety and issue orders to uproot them. Together with Ziad Daud, her young Palestinian lawyer, Salma goes all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court to try and save her trees. Her struggle raises the interest of Mira Navon, the Defense minister’s wife, trapped in her new home and in an unhappy life. Despite their differences and the borders between them the two women develop an invisible bond, while forbidden ties grow stronger between Salma and Ziad. Salma’s legal and personal journey lead her deep into the complex, dark and sometimes funny chaos of the ongoing struggle in the Middle East, in which all players find themselves alone in their struggle to survive.
LOVE AND OTHER CRIMES, Germany/Serbia
written and directed by Stefan Arsenijevic
produced by Coin Film GmbH, Art & Popcorn, Studio Arkadena
Synopsis: Thirty-something Anica (Anica Dobra) feels restless in her dead-end life with an older man and small-time mobster in Belgrade. Milutin’s (Fedja Stovanovic) caring affection for her isn’t enough; Anica longs for true love. She has secretly decided to finally leave the country for good and start anew. Tonight she’ll empty Milutin’s safe of protection money and leave everything and everyone behind.
So today is a very big day for Anica. She has a lot to do as she anticipates the moment when she’ll part with her imperfect life - telling her grandmother goodbye, giving overdue beauty tips to a girlfriend.
What Anica doesn’t know is that today is also an important day for those around her. A day for numerous confessions, confrontations and revelations. Mulutin must ponder his own feelings as a single parent of a mute teenage daughter (Hanna Schwamborn). Milutin’s young right hand man Stanislav (Vuk Kostic) is having a busy day himself handling skirmishes with competitors and dealing with his emotionally fragile singer mother (Milena Dravic).
But it’s sensitive young thug Stanislav’s confession of love to Anica which could change everything on this very day…
directed by Sergei Bodrov
written by Sergei Bodrov & Arif Aliyev
produced by CTB Film Company, Andreevskiy Flag Film Company, X Filme Creative Pool, Kinofabrika GmbH, Eurasia Film Production
Young Temudzhin, the son of a Mongolian tribal leader, falls in love with the young Mongol girl Borte and remains faithful to her even after his father is murdered, he himself sold into slavery, and Borte abducted by a hostile tribe. Temudzhin goes to war to fight for his love and discovers his true calling: as Khan he must unite all the Mongol tribes and lead his subjects to a secure future.
MORAM SPAVAT’ ANDJELE (I Have to Sleep My Angel), Croatia/Bosnia & Herzegovina
directed by Dejan Acimovic
written by Tatjana Acimovic
produced by DA Film, Croatian Television, Bosnia and Herzegovina Television, Croatia Film
The beginning of the 70's, in the province of ex-Yugoslavia, a nine years old boy seems to live an ordinary life, lives with his parents and his mathers's parents. His family is made of a number of different attitudes, origines and influences. His father is a Croat, a doctor, his mother a Serb, his grandfather a revolutionnary communist of old times, his grandmother believing in God. Soon after begining, we realize that the relation between his parents is full of misunderstanding and doomed to failure, so the young boy will witness a very complex and unfortunate love story.
Parallely to their „story“, echoes of already started sexual revolution are present in the yugoslav society too, the complexity of the "social order" and small conservative provincial environment makes it specific... Political movements of the 70’s seem to be dangerous for some, specially for the young boy’s best friend’s father who happens to be anti-yugoslav activist.
Further the boy’s parents move away from each other more they realize how none of them did enough effort to keep their love alive...
MUSTA JÄÄ (Black Ice), Finland
written and directed by Petri Kotwica
produced by Making Movies, Schmidt Katze Filmkollektiv
Black Ice is a suspenseful drama about an unlikely relationship between two women. The story takes place in Helsinki and its surroundings. The main characters, Saara and Tuuli, are irresistible and unpredictable women of equal strength.
Saara is a gynaecologist on the verge of her 40th birthday. She is married to Leo, an architect and a lecturer at the University of Technology. They have postponed having a child of their own. Saara suspects her husband of having an affair.
Tuuli is a 25-year-old architecture student, who also instructs a taekwondo class. Her boyfriend is the lecturer, Leo. Everything would be fine, if only Leo could be man enough to sort things out with the “almost ex-wife.”
Saara finds out about Tuuli and starts to follow and investigate her. Saara attends Tuuli’s taekwondo class under a false identity. Taking advantage of knowing Tuuli’s interests, Saara gradually wins Tuuli’s trust. Saara becomes addicted to find out more and more details. Tuuli, unaware of Saara’s identity, opens her heart about her relationship with Saara’s husband.
Surprisingly enough, Saara seems to enjoy Tuuli’s company until Tuuli tells her she might be pregnant with Leo’s baby. A journey towards an inevitable disclosure of lies begins. Not wanting to watch over her shoulder for the rest of her life, it is finally Tuuli who has to choose a false identity in order to get close to Saara for one more time…
written and directed by Bent Hamer
produced by Bulbul Film, Pandora Film, Memento Films, Scanbox
The moment the train leaves the station without train driver Odd Horten aboard, he realizes that the path ahead is a journey without printed timetabels and well-known stations. Horten has retired, and the platform does not feel like a safe place anymore.
O’ Horten is a bittersweet tale of train engineer Odd Horten, retiring after 40 years of traveling a very stable rail and now, uneasily, having to adapt to his new life as a pensioner.
With death as a metphor, the film follows Horten through absurd adventures and quirky encounters, drawing a melancholy and humorous portrait of an aging man in situations most people will not get into, but certainly will recognize.
Film still: Hans-Jørgen Osnes
EL ORFANATO (The Orphanage), Spain
directed by Juan Antonio Bayona
written by Sergio G. Sánchez
produced by Rodar y Rodar S.L., Telecinco Cinema
Laura returns with her family to the long abandoned orphanage where she grew up for re-open it as a home for disabled children. The new home and mysterious surroundings awaken Simon’s imagination and the boy starts to spin a web of fantastic tales and not-so-innocent games... A troubling web that
begins to disturb Laura, who slowly becomes convinced that something longhidden and terrible is hiding in the old house, something waiting to emerge and inflict appalling damage on her family.
PING-PONGKINGEN (The King of Ping Pong), Sweden
directed by Jens Jonsson
written by Jens Jonsson & Hans Gunnarsson
produced by Bob Film Sweden AB, Eurimages, Nordisk Film, MEDIA, Svenska Filminstitutet, Nordisk Film A/S, Filmpool Nord AB, SVT
A warm an humorous drama full of depth and originality set in the far north.
RILLE (16) is ostracised and bullied; a nobody. Everywhere, that is, except in the ping pong room. There he rules; he is the King of Ping Pong. His brother Erik (13) is charming, respected and loved by all. Despite the profound difference between them, they share the same blood; at least that is what they both believe. When they learn the truth about their father during their spring break, they become bitter adversaries engaged in a life and death struggle.
Film still: Johan Bergmark
written and directed by Götz Spielmann
produced by Prisma Film- und Fernsehproduktion GmbH, Spielmann Film
Autumn. The countryside near Vienna. A farmhouse, squalid and dilapidated. An old man lives there, by himself. Fields surround the farm, and a forest. Not far from there, a house belonging to a policeman and his wife. A new home, pristine, nothing looks out of
place. The only thing missing in this picture: a child.
Meanwhile in Vienna: the world of prostitution, red light districts at night. Everything beats to the drum of money and business. A select few make a fortune, the others barely scrape together a living. Among those: Tamara and Alex. She is a prostitute from the Ukraine, he is the boss' runner. Secret lovers. Unwritten law dictates their love is forbidden. Alex wants out. But to get out of that world he needs money that neither he nor Tamara, heavily in debt, have. Alex decides to rob a bank. A small bank outside of Vienna. Everything seems to go according to plan, but during the escape a bullet misses its target and kills Tamara. Alex manages to get away. The money he now calls his own is suddenly worthless to him. He instead sets out to avenge the death of his beloved.
REVANCHE tells a story about two worlds that are both together and apart. A young woman’s death connects and changes the lives of four people.
Pictures: © Lukas Beck
LA SILENCE DE LORNA (Lorna's Silence), Belgium
written and directed by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
produced by Les Films du Fleuve, Archipel 35, Lucky Red
In order to become the owner of a snack bar with her boyfriend, Lorna, a young Albanian woman living in Belgium becomes an accomplice to a diabolical plan devised by mobster Fabio.
Fabio has orchestrated a sham marriage between her and Claudy. The marriage allows her to obtain Belgian citizenship and then marry a Russian Mafioso willing to pay a lot of money to acquire the same quickly. However, for this second marriage to be possible, Fabio has planned to kill Claudy. Will Lorna keep silent?
Pictures: Christine Plenus
TEŠKO JE BITI FIN (It's Hard to Be Nice), Bosnia & Herzegovina
written and directed by Srdjan Vuletic
produced by Refresh Production
Fudo is a forty year-old taxi driver who wants to be good. But he just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time: Sarajevo today. Though he has elaborate plans to rise above his petty-criminal past, Fudo’s old friends have their own plans-- to bring him back for one last job.
ÜÇ MAYMUN (Three Monkeys), Turkey
directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
written by Ebru Ceylan, Ercan Kesal & Nuri Bilge Ceylan
produced by Zeynofilm, Pyramide Productions, Bimfilm
A family dislocated when small failings blow up into extravagant lies battles against the odds to stay together by covering up the truth... In order to avoid hardship and responsibilities that would otherwise be impossible to endure, the family chooses to ignore the truth, not to see, hear or talk about it. But does playing “Three Monkeys” invalidate the truth of its existence?
Portrait: Aleksi Petridi
WALTZ WITH BASHIR, Israel/France/Germany
written and directed by Ari Folman
produced by Bridgit Folman Film Gang, Les Films d’Ici, Razor Film Produktion, ARTE France, ITVS International
One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images …
Portrait: Shaxaf Haber
DIE WELLE (The Wave), Germany
directed by Dennis Gansel
written by Dennis Gansel & Peter Thorwarth
produced by Rat Pack Filmproduktion GmbH, Constantin Film Produktion, B.A. Produktion, Medienfonds GFP I KG
Germany today. During project week, high school teacher Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) comes up with an experiment in order to explain to his students how totalitarian governments work. A role-playing game with tragic results begins.
Within a few days, what began with harmless notions like discipline and community builds into a real movement: THE WAVE. By the third day, the students start ostracizing and threatening others.
When the conflict finally erupts into violence at an intramural water polo game, the teacher decides to break off the experiment. But it's too late. THE WAVE is out of control...
Film still: © Constantin Film/ RatPack/ BA/ GFPII
Portrait: © Conny Klein/ RatPack Film
WOLKE 9 (Cloud 9), Germany
directed by Andreas Dresen
written by Andreas Dresen, Laila Stieler, Cooky Ziesche & Jörg Hauschild
produced by Rommel Film e.K., Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, ARTE
She didn’t ask for it. It just happened. There were stealing glances, attraction. But this was never supposed to happen.
Inge is in her mid-60s. She has been married for 30 years and loves her husband. But Inge is drawn to this older man Karl, already 76. It’s passion. It’s sex. And she suddenly feels like a young girl again…
ДЗИФТ / ZIFT, Bulgaria
directed by Yavor Gardev
written by Vladislav Todorov
produced by Miramar Film, Bulgarian National Film Centre, Bulgarian National Television
"Zift" is a genre mixture of neo-noir and sots-art. Moth is freed on parole after spending time in prison on wrongful conviction. All hell breaks loose as soon as he walks out of jail. His frantic chase after the truth draws the map of a diabolical totalitarian city. The story ends inside the gravediggers’ trailer where all secrets are revealed.
Film still: Kalin Nikolov / Portrait: Julian Donov
Unless otherwise indicated, all pictures appear courtesy of the films' production/distribution companies.