Once again, the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival, together with its film partner Ale kino+, has prepared a section filled with hits and acclaimed discoveries.
America at the end of the 1970s and three wonderful actresses (Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning) are featured in the long-awaited 20th Century Women, which was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay. The director and screenwriter, Mike Mills (Beginners), has called his film a love letter to the women who raised him. Two of the section's other films also feature strong female performances. Benedict Andrews' Una, starring Rooney Mary, is a tense psychological drama about a woman who meets the man who had sexually abused her years earlier. Alain Gomis's Félicité is, in turn, a story full of music and warmth that won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Berlinale. It offers a portrait of Kinshasa's vibrant nightlife and also features a great acting debut by the electrifying Véro Tshanda Bey Mputu.
Tarik Saleh's (Metropia) The Nile Hilton Incident will take viewers to another place altogether. With Cairo on the eve of the Arab Spring in the background, the plot revolves around a police officer who is trying to unravel the mystery of the murder of a well-known singer, thus uncovering a world filled with corruption. The result is a rapacious detective story with strong political overtones. It won the International Competition at this year's Sundance Festival. The section will also include the latest film by one of New Horizons' cult directors, Bruno Dumont (the subject of a retrospective at the 11th New Horizons). With Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Dumont will once again surprise audiences, this time by serving up a wild musical.
The section will also feature two directorial debuts that premiered at the recently concluded Cannes festival. Closeness, by 26-year-old Russian Kantemir Balagov, takes place in Nalchik at the end of the 1990s. The North Caucasus is seething with tension, and survival requires loyalty to one's family and ethnic community. A young Jewish girl named Ilana is trying desperately to escape the web of tribal dependency and her family's demands for sacrifice. To close the program, we will see Rungano Nyoni's I Am Not a Witch, a beautiful story with ideal doses of magic and realism, the exotic and familiar, poetry and humor. This dark fairy tale is about a child's loneliness, a world where sorcery is a way to exclude girls and women from the community.