Małgorzata Sadowska, festival programmer and curator of the Cinema of Resistance section, makes her picks from the 17th T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival repertoire.
Western, dir. Valeska Grisebach
The further I get from the screening in Cannes, the more this seemingly insignificant, surprising, expansive and highly sensuous film resonates with me. The way in which Grisebach reveals the world of male rituals and the struggle for domination, the vigilance with which the tension between the natives and outsiders plays out (the film is set in the Bulgarian provinces, where a group of German workers are building a hydroelectric plant)-only Claire Denis had been able to film men in this way before and play the tune to which they dance.
People That Are Not Me, dir. Hadas ben Aroya
The debut film by this Israeli director is a brilliant, humorous portrait of narcissistic millennials stuck between a fear of commitment and a desperate desire for intimacy. For me, however, People That Are Not Me is primarily a film about shame, an emotion whose power to discipline transcends generations. In crossing the boundaries of shame and embarrassment, Ben Aroya is unmatched-right up to the sensational, shameless finale.
Prisoner/Terrorist, dir. Masao Adachi and It May Be That Beauty Has Strengthened Our Resolve - Masao Adachi, dir. Philippe Grandrieux
A selfie and a portrayal of Masao Adachi, the Japanese avant-garde director who took politics and protest to their extreme: in the 1970s, he joined the ranks of a recognized terrorist organization, the Japanese Red Army, and disappeared from cinema for 35 years. His own story and Grandrieux's documentary offer a reckoning with the past and a story about political engagement and its pitfalls. They are, however, also excellent examples of the rebellious, self-conscious medium of film that cannot be placated.
Wild Roses, dir. Anna Jadowska
For me, this is a real find, with its outstanding cinematography by the talented Małgorzata Szyłak (her wonderful cinematography work is also on display in Anna Zamecka's Communion) and Marta Nieradkiewicz's amazing acting skills. Not to mention the director-I have been following her (independent and personal) path from the very beginning. Wild Roses is a fascinating story about an ordinary woman who is a victim of her surroundings (the countryside) and family pressure that paves the way for her independence. There is an element of contemporary Poland in the film as seen from another, fresh perspective. To put it simply, from the perspective of women.
Nothing Factory, dir. Pedro Pinho
A puckish, tragicomic, painfully real look at how global processes are taking their toll on individual lives. Based on true events, this story of an attempt by workers to take over their Portuguese factory is at the same time an attempt to take over cinema, to test just how far film conventions are capable of describing the death of the working man. In the end, the story of the film medium began when workers started leaving the factory. Will it also end the same way?
In the Realm of the Senses, dir. Nagisa Ôshima
Old love never dies, and the realm of the senses is the only one that will never fall. If you have not yet seen this erotic classic from 1976, you really must; and if you have seen it, you might need a reminder of just how daring and how passionate cinema once was-and of why you should keep your distance from women's handbags.
Frost, dir. Šarūnas Bartas
Bartas's enigmatic film is about fate; a hypnotic journey into a contemporary "heart of darkness" that extends not so far beyond our eastern border. The two protagonists (dragged into their mission by chance) are taking humanitarian aid to the Donbas, where the war casts a spell on them that gets stronger and stronger with every passing kilometer, sucking them in, stimulating their curiosity, piquing their desire for action, for meaning, for something more profound and, at the same time, awakening a dormant desire for death. A film with a secret that delivers viewers another outstanding, powerful finale.
Fighting Through the Night, dir. Sylvain L'Espérance
They say time is money, but time is really freedom, as is made clear in this fantastic documentary by the Canadian director. For two years, L'Espérance filmed the crisis in Athens, and the result of his patient, observant and sensitive presence on the streets of the Greek capital is this 285-minute documentary. This is a film not only about the marginalized-the unemployed, refugees, the Roma and all those abandoned by the state-it is also a declaration of faith in social renewal and in cinema free from the terror of the clock.
Makala, dir. Emmanuel Gras
A documentary that certainly qualifies as slow cinema that, at the same time, seems to be mocking our aspirations for a slower life as seen in concepts such as "organic," "locally produced" and "handmade." The rhythm in Makala is established by the life of a Congolese farmer, Kabwita Kasongo, who first spends a few days clearing trees, then splitting and burning them before loading his treasure-a dozen or so bags of charcoal-onto a ramshackle bike and heading out on a three-day trip to town. We get mired in the sand and dust and run into police officers and beggars right along with him; we admire his laborious persistence, which expects almost nothing in return. A wonderful, complex film, a real lesson in mindfulness.
No, this is not the title of a film, but rather the name of a movement that draws on archival footage, a critical art form within the world of cinema. We will be presenting three such films in the Cinema of Resistance section: Mohanad Yaqubi's Off Frame..., Mary Jirmanus Saba's A Feeling Greater than Love, and Jean-Gabriel Périot's A German Youth. Three different topics-the Palestinian uprising, the incomplete Lebanese revolution, and German terrorism-and one goal: transcribing and processing history, seeking its alternative explanations and investigating the relationship between politics and cinema. Inspiring, instructive, pointing us in the direction of new horizons.