After loading on the sushi while I was in Tokyo, I caught the last flight out to get back to the second half of the look at Cannes. These picks reflects the dynamism of world cinema, and proves even further how far from reality the Academy Awards has become in terms of ‘naming the best’. Until it becomes far more encompassing of films from other countries and industries (and not just Hollywood productions in foreign countries) on a more regularly basis, then festivals like Venice, Berlin, Pusan and Cannes will remain the standard that I think many filmmakers should aspire to.
For this post, I have picked what I consider to be the most interesting films based on the synopsis. Of course, this is never a good way to judge anything, let alone an art as visual as films. Unfortunately, my imaginary guest pass is only and exactly that: imaginery. Unable to pass proper judgement, then (with an incredibly shallow knowledge about the majority of these filmmakers myself), I’ll post the synopsis here, barring a few grammatical corrections, and let you do the judging yourself.
Er Shi Si Cheng Ji – Jia Zhangke
Chengdu, the present time. The state owned factory, 420, shuts down to give way to a complex of luxury apartments called “24 CITY”. The story follows eight characters across three generations: old workers, factory executives and yuppies. It is a story that melts into the history of China.
The Headless Woman – Lucrecia Martel
A woman is driving on the highway. She becomes distracted and runs over something. On the days following this incident, she fails to recognise the feelings that bond her to things and people. She just lets herself be taken by the events of her social life. One night she tells her husband that she killed someone on the highway. They go back to the road only to find a dead dog. Friends close to the police confirm that there were no accident reports. Everything returns to normal and the bad moment seems to be over until the news of a gruesome discovery again worries everyone…
Leonera – Pablo Trapero
Julia wakes up in her apartment, surrounded by the bloody bodies of Ramiro and Nahuel. Ramiro is still alive; both have been her lovers and one made Julia pregnant. Julia is sent to a prison housing mothers and pregnant inmates. There she spends her first days absorbed and aloof. She hates to be a mother in this situation. The child, a baby boy, is born, but bringing up a child in prison is difficult. More and more, however, Julia feels this boy is the only value she has left in her life.
My Magic – Eric Khoo
Since his wife left him, Francis is a broken man. He works as a bartender in a night club, and drowns his pain in alcohol. His ten year old son manages on his own, but he’s angry at his father for not pulling himself together. Because he loves his child, Francis decides to go back to his old job: being a magician.
Three Monkeys – Nuri Bilge Ceylan
A family, dislocated when small failings blow up into extravagant lies, battles against the odds to stay together by covering up the truth. In order to avoid hardship and responsibilities that would otherwise be impossible to endure, the family chooses to ignore the truth, to not see, hear or talk about it. But does playing “Three Monkeys” invalidate the truth of its existence?
Waltz with Bashir – Ari Folman
One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. However, Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images…
Je Veux Voir – Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
July 2006. A war breaks out in Lebanon. A new war, but not just one more war. A war that crushes the hopes of peace and the dynamism of our generation. We no longer know what to write, what stories to recount, what images to show. We ask ourselves: “What can cinema do?”
That question, we decide to translate it into reality. We go to Beirut with an “icon”, an actress who, to us, symbolises cinema, Catherine Deneuve. She will meet our actor, Rabih Mroué. Together, they will drive through the regions devastated by the conflict. Through their presence, their meeting, we hope to find the beauty which our eyes no longer perceive. It is the beginning of an unpredictable, unexpected adventure
Salt of this Sea – Annemarie Jacir
Soraya, 28, born and raised in Brooklyn, decides to return to live in Palestine, the country her family was exiled from in 1948. On arriving in Ramallah, Soraya tries to recover her grandparent’s money, frozen in an account in Jaffa, but is refused by the bank. She meets Emad, a young Palestinian whose ambition, contrary to hers, is to leave forever. Tired of the constraints that dictate their lives, Soraya and Emad know in order to be free, they must take things into their own hands, even it means breaking the law. In this quest for life, we follow their trail through the remains of a lost Palestine.
Parking – Chung Mong Hong
On Mother’s Day in Taipei, Chen Mo makes a date for dinner with his wife, hoping to bring their estranged relationship back together. While buying a cake on his way home, a car unexpectedly double parks next to his car, preventing his exit. For the entire night, Chen Mo searches the floors of a nearby apartment building for the owner of the illegally parked car, and encounters a succession of strange events and eccentric characters: an old couple living with their precocious granddaughter who have lost their only son, a one-armed barbershop owner cooking fish head soup, a mainland Chinese prostitute trying to escape her pimp’s cruel clutches, and a Hong Kong tailor embroiled in debt and captured by underground loan sharks. With the rich flavours of detective story, comedy, and melodrama, this movie interweaves themes of family, sex, and money to create a moving tale.
The Other Day In Eden – Jan Speckenbach
To take care of his father’s estate, Ulrich Meinert has to go to a trailer park where his father used to live. He finds himself in a nudist colony in eastern Germany. Instead of the original plan, he settles into his father’s trailer, takes on one of his old friends and gets involved with Anja, his father’s girlfriend. Against his own wishes, Ulrich starts to fill the void his father left behind…
The Maid – Heidi Saman
This film examines the moments in which we are forced to understand that other people are real in the same way that we are. Rasha is an Egyptian housemaid, who is not so skilled at her job. When her suspicions about her employer are confirmed, Rasha must come to terms with her perceptions of trust, duty, and her place within the family household.
Love You More – Sam Taylor-Wood
Summer, 1978. London. Georgia sits in a Geography class covering her exercise book with graffiti. Her classmate Peter watches her with longing. Georgia turns and catches him – but ignores his gaze.