The World According to Europe’s Leading Modern Filmmakers

The Bratislava International Film Festival (BIFF) will soon take a look back at this years festival season and bring to the Slovak audience films that have climbed high at the most prestigious summits of the cinema world. A vast majority of them will mark a Slovak premiere and in many cases the festival is the sole chance to see them since most of these remarkable motion pictures will not make it to commercial distribution. Like every year, the festival will focus on the starry sky of contemporary European cinema represented by its fixed as well as shooting stars. The 18th edition of the Bratislava IFF will take place from November 11 through 17 in Bratislava municipal cinema theatres and movie clubs.

The Bratislava film festival continues in the tradition of presenting finalists of the LUX Film Prize that has been awarded by the European Parliament since 2007. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the LUX Film Prize has an ambition to support diversity of European culture, make noteworthy cinematic achievements widely available to European audiences and promote individual member states’ cinemas inside as well as outside the Union’s borders. Between October and December, the triplet of finalists will tour more than 50 major European cities including Bratislava. As tradition has it, the winning motion picture will also be available in versions for the sight and hearing impaired.

 

One of the three filmmakers whose works made the final selection is Leyla Bouzid, a young directress of Tunisian origin who graduated from the prestigious La Fémis in Paris and has continued to operate in the French-speaking environment. Her acclaimed debut, As I Open My Eyes (A peine jouvre les yeux, 2015), tackles issues related to cultural changes of her birthplace and her generation’s views of life. Her film is a civil tale of a young female rebel who refuses to be crammed into roles prescribed by society. The story revolves around Farah, an unfettered frontwoman who tours night clubs with her music band. Her life choices inevitably meet with her parents’ lack of understanding as her art clashes with strictures imposed by the rigid political regime. As I Open My Eyes paints a stunningly vivid picture of Tunisian society on the brink of a radical change.

 

Strikingly different is the heroine of one of the most popular motion pictures of this year’s festival season, Toni Erdmann (2016) by German directress Maren Ade who serves her social criticism on the platter of comedy genre with an ample garnish of absurd undertones. In hopes of pursuing career in a supranational corporation, ambitious Ines gives up on her private life while slowly drifting away from home and her loved ones. Throwing a lifesaver is her freewheeling father whose unpredictable alter ego lent the film its name. Having been selected to represent Germany in vying for Best Foreign Language Film at upcoming Oscars, Toni Erdmann pithily caricatures the corporate world, its twisted rules and professional mumbo jumbo. The motion picture will certainly be delightful to watch for all those who have gone or are going through a similar work experience.

 

The last of the LUX Film Prize nominees is a Swiss-French animated film, My Life as a Courgette (Ma vie de Courgette, 2016), by director Claude Barras. The visually effective stop-motion animation is used here to serve the story of an orphaned boy who is trying to find its place in the sun. With the help of Raymond, a kind-hearted police officer, the child hero with an unusual nickname (Small Pumpkin) learns to trust people around him and eventually wins love of a new family.

 

 

 

 

In a separate section entitled Europa, the Bratislava film festival intends to present a selection of the best titles that have premiered over the past year and simultaneously expose the thematic and stylistic diversity of what is commonly labelled as European cinema. The festival-goers can look forward to seeing motion pictures decorated at prestigious film festivals around the globe, especially those that took place in the second half of the year. This selection will include fiction and documentary films that scored success at IFF in Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Venice or Toronto.

 

Its Not the Time of My Life (Ernellaék Farkaséknal, 2016) has all the makings to become one of the section’s blockbusters. It was made by Szabolcs Hajdu, one of the shooting stars of the young Hungarian cinema who has become familiar among Slovak cinephiles thanks to his previous films such as White Palms, Bibliothèque Pascal or Mirage. In his latest motion picture, Hajdu who also plays one of the main characters supported, among others, by his wife and two children brilliantly spins an intimate psychological drama focusing on blood, marital and parental relations against the backdrop of a single apartment the camera or the cast never leave for a second. In terms of directorial skill, the film follows in the best footsteps of American independent cinema while psychological miniatures draw it to the orbit of Ingmar Bergman. It snatched the Crystal Globe along with the best male performance award at the Karlovy Vary IFF. Coming to present the film at the Bratislava film festival is a numerous delegation that will include the director and his film and life partner, Orsolya Török-Illyés.

Based on votes cast by the visitors, the Bratislava IFF Viewers’ Choice Award went to Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film Rafiki (2018) about forbidden love in Kenya.

Awards of the 20th Bratislava IFF 2018

“If you’re lucky enough to make living of something you really love, there is a downside – you don’t do it for fun, it’s a job.”

 

Tomáš Hudák. He studied Film studies (criticism) at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU). He’s a fan of film, music, literature and the art as such. He’s a freelancer, writing film reviews and co-organizing several Slovakian film festivals.

“It’s nice to step out from the bubble of social networks – the binary world of likes/unlikes to be part of the group of totally different people, who are connected only by the skateboards.”

 

Šimon Šafránek. – director, journalist, DJ – multi-genre artist with the sensation of music and word. He’s a freelancer, writing for the Denník N, Hospodářské noviny, Reflex, Magnus etc.

“Films make us better, braver, more romantic and free”

 

Bibiana Ondrejková. A popular theatre and voice actress and presenter. The general public knows her as the Slovak voice of Phoebe Buffay from the TV show Friends. Upon seeing her, viewers will associate her with the Slovak TV series The Defenders (2014), Red Widow (2014), Homicide Old Town (2010) or Block of Flats (2008).

“Actors infuse film with emotion and give it a soul”

Daniel Rihák. A fresh graduate of film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of prof. Martin Šulík. A director of (so far) student films and a number of commercials. His graduation film The Trip recently won the Best Director and Best Sound awards at the Áčko Student Film Festival.

“All women have the power to change things”

 

Ivana Hucíková belongs to the generation of young Slovak filmmakers. She studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, from which she graduated in 2015 with her film Mothers and Daughters. A Bratislava citizen from Orava, living and creating in Slovakia and the USA. So far, she has made several short documentary films: Into My Life (2018), Connie & Corey (2017) and is currently working on the development of several film projects as their director, producer or editor.

“Cinema is a great medium for sharing common European values”

 

Dominika Jarečná was born in 1999 in Bratislava. She currently studies Theory and History of Arts at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic). She was a member of the Giornate degli Autori jury at this year’s Venice IFF and is a LUX Prize ambassador for the years 2018 and 2019.

Film festival: “It’s a bit like a vacation full of stories”

Alena Sabuchová is a young Slovak author and screenwriter. For her debut collection of short stories Back rooms, Alena was awarded the Ivan Krasko Prize for the best Slovak-language debut as well as the Tatra banka Foundation Young Artist Award in the category of literature. She writes scripts for television and radio, and is currently working on her second book, which will be published next year.

“These films were among the most awarded debut films at this year’s leading festivals”

 

Nenad Dukić. Serbian film critic, who has been collaborating with the team of people preparing The Bratislava International Film Festival for 8 years now. This year (the 20th anniversary of the festival’s existence), he is again the compiler of the Fiction Competition and co-compiler of the section Cinema Now.

The popular section Cinema Now brings an overview of the most remarkable films of the season. Its curators, Nenad Dukid and Tomáš Hudák, have assembled the most interesting movies that have stirred the waters of world’s major festivals. For 20 years, the Bratislava IFF has been supplying the Slovak film public with names, which often become stars of the screen.

The curators of the section Lexicon: Female gaze, festival programmer Tomáš Hudák and the director of this year’s festival spot Ivana Hucíková, have focused on the status of women in cinema, their portrayal in film, and the uniqueness of a woman’s experience.