“Sparrows” (Iceland, Denmark). Beautiful portrait of a young, gifted teenager, ripped from his comfort zone, adjusting to a life with his alcoholic father; poignant, gritty and provocative.
“Tikkun” (Israel). At this point in the festival, “Tikkun” is the most problematic, traumatic; filmed sensationally in black and white, focusing on a Yeshiva boy, saved from death’s clutches by his stringent, intransigent father; Orthodoxy, flayed by director Avishal Sivan; pure example of an egregious, compassionless, society, where the individual is sacrificed on the altar of an inflexible, inexorable code.
“Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict” (Untied States). Uplifting homage to a woman who “did it her way”; born in 1898, Peggy Guggenheim singlehandedly galvanized, and changed forever, how the world views and embraces the avant garde; worthy of canonization she valiantly championed artists who dared to go beyond the “Salon”.
“The Laundryman” (Taiwan). Stylized, twisted, ironic, humorous scenario of a hitman haunted by his victims, purged of their identity, by a “laundry” run by a beautiful, heartless proprietor.
“Song of Songs” (Ukraine). Too obtuse for most viewers; a metaphor for why so many left the entrapment of a Hasidic shtetl, for a less confining, unrestrictive world. Director Eva Neymann uses her camera as Rembrandt used his brush.
“The Club” (Chile). Squeamishly realistic scenario about “defrocked” priests living in a remote village outside of Santiago; serenity is slaughtered when an interloper publically riles and graphically describes his history with the church and its clergymen.
Two pungently powerful films about mining, and the men who courageously invade its unfriendly, unforgiving corridors:
“The 33” (Chile, US). Brilliantly directed by Patricia Riggen; the tension is explosive, even knowing the outcome of the 69 day sojourn; 33 men trapped in the bowels of the San Jose mine; Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche are sublime.
“In the Underground” (China). Expertly explores and balances the lives of miners, above and below the ground; China’s industrialization, informed by totalitarianism.
To be continued………….