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Films competing for Mar del Plata Festival Astor awards


Last year the festival organizers sought to give the event a closer identification with the city and decided to rename the awards Astor, in honour of Mar del Plata's most famous citizen. This year the emphasis is on image, so a new logo has been adopted. It combines two basic elements intended to represent our city and country internationally: the sea lion, a symbol of the city, is framed by moving celluloid in bluish tones, conveying the idea of the sea.

The Festival, whose president is Miguel Pereira, will receive full cooperation from the Municipal District of General Pueyrredón. Around 320 full-length feature films and shorts will be shown on eighteen screens, in fourteen Sections, Retrospectives, Tributes and in the Latin American Audiovisual Laboratory, which was successfully launched last year and which offers a series of Master Classes and Seminars. This year sees the debut of the MERCOSUR Film Market, through which films produced in Argentina and the rest of Latin America will be sold abroad. The Market will be implemented with the support of Al-Invest, of the European Union Media Programme and of Fundación Export-Ar, a public-private organization within the Argentine Foreign Ministry.

Official Section in Competition
The Official Competition includes between 14 and 17 films. The choice of films is consistent with the Festival's purpose, i.e. to contribute to the progress of the world's film industry and to its dissemination in Latin America , encouraging high and innovative artistic values.

Antares, by Götz Spielmann (AUSTRIA)
Antares skillfully interweaves the stories of three couples at crossroads over three momentous days. Set in a ubiquitous, concrete high-rise apartment complex on the outskirts of a big city, the couples emerge from this uniform coexistence to search for love, closeness and some form of happiness. Alex and Nicole are divorced, but Alex cannot let go of what has passed. Sonja is becoming wildly jealous of her husband Marco. Eva, a loyal wife and mother, has turned her life upside down. Antares features explicit sexual content and mature themes in its portrayal of these modern relationships.

The Ninth Day, by Volker Schlondorff (GERMANY/LUXEMBOURG)
There was a catholic priest from Luxembourg imprisoned in the concentration camp Dachau during the Second Word War. He wrote a diary describing daily camp life. But for 9 days he is allowed to get back to his family for the funeral of his mother. It is known that he is interrogated by the GESTAPO. But he does not tell anything about it in his diary. So the film fills the historic gap with some fiction. We are told the story of a young Nazi official who tries to convince the priest to get his bishop to stop his passive resistance.

A Hole in my Heart, by Lukas Moodyson (SWEDEN/DENMARK)
In a suburban Swedish apartment, Rickard (Thorsten Flinck) is directing a pornographic video starring his friend Geko (Goran Marjanovic) and a young woman named Tess (Sanna Bråding). Rickard's teenage son Eric (Björn Almroth) tries to ignore what is happening. During the course of filming, he is befriended by Tess, and fantasies about shooting his father. The atmosphere in the apartment becomes tense after Geko falls asleep during sex, and Tess teases him. Geko and Rickard threaten Tess with violence. She leaves, but later returns with a trolley full of groceries, prompting a food fight that ends with Geko vomiting into Tess' mouth. Tess and Eric are last seen taking turns climbing into a washing machine.

Springtime, by Ryu Jang-Ha (SOUTH KOREA)
It's been all winter for so long It's been several years for Hyng-woo struggling to be a member of symphony orchestra only to fail. He let his only love go just because he feels it's just too harsh reality for him to take responsibility of her but she's still around agonizing him even more. It seems to Hyun-woo that it is just all winter forever.. But trees are not the only thing longing for spring to come He wants to get out of all that, so decides to go to a rural village very far and take a job of temporal music teacher for middle school students there. With worn-out instruments, ripped off musical notes, they have to win the national tournament, or the music class is to be dismissed regardless of their will. Now, Hyun-woo is only hope for the children. During the course of preparation for the tournament, not only the children, Hyun-woo start to regain the long lost passion for music. And while you don't know, spring is all around.

Unconscious, by Joaquín Oristrell (SPAIN/GERMNAY/ITALY/PORTUGAL)
Set in Barcelona, 1913. The pregnant Alma is perhaps one of the most modern women of her day. Her father is a famous neurosurgeon; her husband, Dr. Leon Pardo, a psychiatrist. When Leon disappears mysteriously, Alma turns to her brother-in-law Salvador, a very conservative man who is in love with her despite being married to her sister. The only clue they have to find the missing psychiatrist is a manuscript about four hysterical female patients.

Bitter Dream, by Moshen Amiryoussefi (IRAN)
An undertaker feels that his own end is approaching.

The Sleeping Child, by Yasmine Kassari (MOROCCO/BELGIUM)
In contemporary Morocco, a young wife watches her husband leave the country to go underground the day after their wedding. She is expecting a child. While she is waiting for her husband to return she lulls the foetus to sleep, a social practice widespread throughout the whole of the rural world of Maghreb today. Beautifully shot, this debut feature from young Belgian filmmaker Yasmine Kassari offers a bleak perspective on the plight of young women in rural Morocco affected by the labour drain to Europe.

Down Fall, by Oliver Hirrshbiegel (GERMANY)
In the dead of a November night in 1942, a group of young women are escorted by SS officers through the woods to Wolf's Lair, Hitler's headquarters in Eastern Prussia. They are candidates for the post of personal secretary to the Fuehrer. Among them is 22-yearold Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) a fresh-faced girl from Munich.
The women are ushered into the waiting room outside Hitler's private office, each eager to make a good impression. The door to the office opens, and Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) enters. The women rise to their feet, and the Fuehrer greets them, one by one, with a handshake and an inquiry as to where they hail from. Traudl is chosen for the job and she is overcome with joy at the thought of serving beside her Fuehrer.

Elisa, a radiant and maternal woman, pregnant with her second child, begins to suspect that Gilles, the foundry-worker husband she adores, has fallen in love with another woman. Stoic, conventional, and deeply devoted to family, Elisa watches, suffers, burns with grief, and rages inwardly, but she neither speaks nor acts. In fact, she empathizes with the suffering of her husband who is consumed by an uncontrollable passion. "If I speak, I lose him," she says. Working from a famous Belgian novel published in the 1930s, director Fonteyne and his gifted collaborators Blasband and Saint Martin distilled the dialogue to an extraordinary 11 minutes of screen time and devised a visual language - close-ups alternate with silhouetted figures in long-shot, shadowed, rustic rooms contrast with sun-dappled forests - that evoke the masterpieces of the silent cinema. Featuring a consummate performance by French actress Emmanuelle Devos who conveys Elisa's sensuality and pride largely through glances and silences, Gilles Wife is a masterpiece of visual storytelling.

They Came Back, by Robin Campillo (FRANCE)
What if the dead were to return? One morning in a small French city, the residents wake up to find their recently departed friends and relatives strolling back to town. Although there are some who welcome les revenants, most want things to go back to the way they were. Soon, a refugee camp is set up to house the returnees, as issues such as employment and benefits are decided upon. But these practical issues take a back seat to the very strange behavior the newly alive citizens are exhibiting: they don't sleep, don't get sick, prefer shelter underground, and are incapable of learning. They become feared and hated, and the community is split asunder, as they grapple with the thought of whether the living and the dead can co-exist. By telling his story, mostly through the eyes of three couples, and giving it the blanched post-apocalyptic visual style that evokes such science fiction classics as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and La Jetée, Campillo has fashioned a probing, socially relevant film with troubling implications for a world increasingly divided along economic and cultural fault lines.

Le Grand Voyage, by Ismaël Ferroukhi (FRANCE/MOROCCO)
A few weeks before his college entrance exams, Reda, a young man who lives in the south of France, finds himself forced to drive his father to Mecca. From the start, the journey looks to be difficult. Reda and his father have nothing in common. Talk is reduced to the strict minimum. Reda wants to experience this trip in his own way. His father demands respect for himself and the meaning of this pilgrimage. As they drive through different countries and meet various people, Reda and his father observe each other warily. How can they create a relationship when communication is impossible? From the south of France, through Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan to Saudi Arabia, their road is 3,000 miles long.

The 3 Rooms Melancholia, by Pirjo Honkasalo (FINLAND/GERMANY)
The Chechen war is the setting for the film. The inability of adults to resolve the war gives rise to a generation upon whom hatred has been visited like the issue of a deity incarnate. Children have taken on a burden of hatred which they believe springs from within. There is no need to seek its causes. The transposed hatred casts a pall to the depths of their minds; they are accompanied throughout their lives by an inexplicable melancholia and sudden outbursts of rage. The film shows Russian children on Kronstadt, an island that lies before St. Petersburg. There President Putin has established by decree a military school for orphaned children. They are being trained in the Kronstadt cadet academy as child soldiers. The imagined enemy is the Chechen. He is the foe whose utter defeat turns a soldier into a hero of the fatherland.

P.S., by Dylan Kidd (USA)
Louise Harrington, a divorced, 30-something admission's officer at Columbia University's School of Fine Arts is intelligent, pretty, successful, and...unfulfilled. That is, until a graduate school application crosses her desk and she arranges to interview the young painter. When F. Scott Feinstadt appears, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Louise's high school boyfriend and one true love.

Para que no me olvides, by Patricia Ferreira (SPAIN)
Irene lives with her son David, a young architecture student, and with her father Mateo, an old man who is full of life despite his tragic history: he was practically a child during the Spanish Civil War and during the post-war repression, he lost his home and his entire family.
David found Clara, or she found him, at the large supermarket nearby where she is a cashier. They not only love but also understand each other.
As the only child of separated parents, David cannot escape his mother's hostility towards a relationship she feels is not good for him, as it puts his personal and professional future in jeopardy. Irene is deeply committed to her job directing a theater group of blind people, but at home there is a growing gap she cannot see how to bridge.
Mateo holds them all together, perhaps due to his age, his experience, or his good nature. He might seem to be not of this world but only because the world is much bigger than it looks and his place in it is essential, as a person recovering his dignity, like all those who were trampled by a terrible war and an implacable regime.
Their lives are much like our own. Until one day, an unexpected event will put them to the test and they will have to learn to live all over again, as each of them discovers what he or she did not know about the others.

Almost Brothers, by Lúcia Murat (BRAZIL/FRANCE)
A recounting of the relationship between the middle classes and those from the favellas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro during the 1950s, 1970s and today.

Tatooed, by Eduardo Raspo (ARGENTINA)
Paco knows that his mother died when he was a child. After long time, his father has got married again and his sister is born recently.

A year without love, by Anahí Berneri (ARGENTINA)
Pablo is a young HIV-positive poet who decides to write a diary and document his search to cure both his failing love life and health. Pablo unsuccessfully looks for love in bars and personal ads, and settles for anonymous sex in porno theaters. He is also discouraged about relying on his father's aid to make ends meet. But he has no choice since he can't get his writing published and he makes so little money as a French teacher. He is also forced to share an apartment (and a lovehate relationship) with his aunt. When Pablo becomes part of an intimate leather circle, he begins to fully explore his fascination with S&M practices. Sex soon becomes an ideal means for Pablo to reconfirm that he is alive. By year's end, Pablo has pages and pages of well-documented sexual adventures and medical treatment for his dropping T-cell count. He decides to publish his diary as a novel thanks to the emotional support of his best friend Nicolas.

The 3 rooms of melancholia Pirjo Honkasalo
The sleeping child Yasmine Kassari
Gilles' wife Frédéric Fonteyne
Le Grand Voyage Ismaël Ferroukhi
P.S. Dylan Kidd
Vital Shinya Tsukamoto
A hole in my heart Lukas Moodyson
Almost Brothers Lúcia Murat
They came back Robin Campillo
Antares Götz Spielmann
Bitter dream Moshen Amiryoussefi
Springtime Ryu Jang-Ha
The ninth day Volker Schlondorff
Tatooed Eduardo Raspo
Downfall Oliver Hirrshbiegel
Unconscious Joaquín Oristrell
Para que no me olvides Patricia Ferreira


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