In actuality, I attended the last week of an intense, innovative selection of films from around the world; here is a minimal synopsis of the ones I viewed, in the order in which I saw them:
“The Scapegoat”, UK. Stunning, scintillating tale of mistaken identity. Hard core entertainment from commencement to conclusion. An unforgettable performance by Andrew Scott. Based upon the novel by Daphne du Maurier and a remake of the 1959 film starring Sir Alex Guinness. Must see!
“The Repentant”, Algeria/France. (Arabic with English subtitles). Slow, predictable story of “Rashid”, repenting his role as a terrorist and his frustrating, futile efforts to re-enter civilian society. Skip it!
“Black Pond”, UK. Intriguing tale about an ordinary, benign family accused of murder. In a series of flashbacks, at times uproarious, a poetic web of life and relationships weaves a stellar story. Must see!
“Full Circle”, China. ( Mandarin, English subtitles). By far one of the best and most heartening of the festival, proving that life never ceases, regardless of age, as long as mind and spirit remain well-oiled, lubricated with ingenuity, vitality; affirming that life can be viable at eighty. Must see!
“The Believers”, USA. Award winning documentary about the discovery of “cold fusion” (1989) by scientists Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons. From visionaries to outcasts, directors Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross trace their illusions and disillusionments, appealing to those with scientific insights and skills. I fall into the category that will never be able to distinguish the difference between “hot” and “cold” fusion but appreciated the edification efforts of the filmmakers. I did not regret seeing “The Believers”.
“The Last Sentence”, Sweden. (English subtitles). An incredible, well-acted story about a man of integrity in a crumbling world. Commences in 1933, Swedish journalist, “Torgny Segerstedt”, is fearless in his relentless attacks upon Hitler and his “thugs”; the movie progresses through the war; we witness Torgny as his life, loves are compromised but never the courage, fortitude of his convictions. Must see!
“Everybody’s Got Somebody…Not Me”, Mexico. (Spanish, English subtitles). Fascinating story of homosexual relationships, focusing on two highly intelligent women and how they remain intransigent or flexible as their scenario evolves. Not for “everybody” but a “must see”…for me.
“Germania”, Argentina. (German/Spanish, English subtitles). Painful, plodding plot revolving around a German family leaving their enclave in Argentina. Excruciating, enervating and a definite film to avoid!
“Valley of Saints” ,India. (Kashmiri, English subtitles). Loved this film about a boatman, “Gulzar” and his friendship with “Asifa” a beautiful Kashmiri-American studying the positive/ poisonous effects of Dal Lake. Perfect character development make “Valley of Saints” a worthy contender for “best of the fest”. Must see!
“The World is Funny”, Israel. (Hebrew, English subtitles). My favorite of the Film Festival. Irony, humor, joy, balance pain, loss, depression; we watch individuals, families, grow and disintegrate, die and revive. Rich, substantive on so many levels; exiting feeling invigorated, vibrantly alive. ABSOLUTE MUST SEE!
“Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica”, Brazil. (Portuguese, English subtitles). Potential fizzled after the first half hour. “Veronica” a new doctor must contend with an unsatisfying position at a public hospital, the declining health of her beloved father and the barrenness of meaningless, perpetual sex as a replacement for the therapeutic process. Skip it!
“Silver Lining Notebook” USA. Exceptional. To be reviewed………
“Flight” USA. Unexceptional, but fine performances. To be reviewed……………