New Europe Competition
For the seventh time, ambitious first and second films by new talents from European countries will compete in the festival's main competition, the Grand Prix of Febiofest (and also for 5,000 euros for the winning filmmaker and another 5,000 euros for a potential Czech distributor). We will offer the testimony of a generation: a portrait of a young woman from a Muslim family who wants to lead an independent life (Norwegian I am Yours), a report on teenage discovery of sex (Belgian Puppy Love), a traumatizing memory of military service (Israeli Rock the Casbah) or of a brother who succumbed to drugs (Dutch). Starting filmmakers also typically depict the world through a child's eyes, as is the case of German Wolfschildren which returns to the end of World War II. Others want to dive directly into genre cinema, as is the case of a group of enthusiasts from Cardiff, Wales (sci-fi The Machine proves that good ideas are sometimes more than a load of money). There are also filmmakers who explore various aspects of life from a much wider perspective, for example the consequences of false prejudices which the society easily adopts (Finnish Princess of Egypt), the moral impact of informants' activities during communism (Romanian Roxanne), or the curse of a life imprisoned within one’s own physical handicap (Polish Life Feels Good). We can also find filmmakers who know that humor is not only the spice of life, but also of a good film – either a humorous understanding of human weakness (Swedish Home), or parodying their own cultural stereotypes (French 2 Autumns, 3 Winters), or sharp black humor (Italian-Slovenian Zoran, My Nephew the Idiot).
World Cinema Panorama
One of the pleasant things at an international film festival is to watch how familiar names, which have already established their place in the program, as well as in the hearts of the viewers, return with new films, and it is these names that make up the programming for this section. For example, this year we have Andrzej Wajda, whose biographical story of Lech Walesa contributed to the mapping of modern Polish history. The latest film of Pawel Pawlikowski will certainly capture attention as well. Born in Poland, he made several films in Great Britain and France, and Febiofest presented them as a part of his tribute two years ago. He has now returned to his homeland to shoot a compelling intimate drama, Ida, which won awards at several prestigious festivals. Another famous Polish globetrotter and Kristian Award winner from 2003, Roman Polanski, proves with each and every new film that he can transform any idea into independent film art. This time, he uses a successful play, Venus in Fur, and combines it with the amazing performances of Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Almaric. Other distinctive personalities are represented in the section as well: Denis Villeneuve, from Canada, has recently conquered Hollywood with Prisoners, but he has made a much more independent Canadian-Spanish coproduction around the same time – Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The name of the Spanish director, David Trueba, will relate the festival to last year's 20th anniversary edition as we included The Artist and the Model by his brother Ferdinand. And not only that, but David Trueba found inspiration for his latest opus, Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed, in the 1960s when Richard Lester was shooting How I Won the War in Spain – a film that its director personally introduced at last year's Febiofest. It is the making of this film, which cast the legendary Beatle, John Lennon, in the main role, which is the center of the story of a Spanish teacher who wants to meet his idol. The festival's closing ceremony will feature another epic spectacle, The Physician by the German director Philipp Stölzl, taking us to ancient Persia. Another German filmmaker, Tomas Arslan, a renowned representative of the so-called Berlin school, shocked his fans last year with his anti-western, Gold. The thriller Strangers by the Lake by Alain Guiraudie from France, which takes us to a gay community plagued by a mysterious killer, is certainly not intended only for regular visitors of the Another Shore section. The Belgian biographical music drama, Marina, will touch not only those who remember the 1960s and the song “Marina, Marina” playing from every radio with nostalgia. The film, produced by the Dardenne brothers, describes the life story of the song's creator, Rocco Granata, on his way to fame and the fulfillment of his dream. The only debut of this elite selection, Brasserie Romantik, will captivate you, not only with its mature directing, but the story of one evening in a restaurant in Brussels may entice you to continue with a pleasant dinner somewhere around Cinestar in Smichov. In 2010, Febiofest dedicated one of its tributes to the Dutch director Alex Van Warmerdam. This may be one of the reasons why the latest film by this unique filmmaker, the absurd black comedy Borgman, finally found its way into Czech distribution. This is what festivals should be about.
Made in USA
The section offers several attractive pinnacles including two Oscar winner for Best Screenplay Her by Spike Jonze and Oscar nominee – Alexander Payne´s Nebraska. A significant event will be the pre-premiere of Only Lovers Left Alive, the latest opus by the guru of independent American cinema, Jim Jarmusch, and another pre-premiere screening of a striking spectacle, Darren Aronofsky's Noah, made in 3D. A small sub-section deserves special attention for its focus on literary heroes of the American Beat Generation. Apart from Ginsberg, Burroughs or Ferlinghetti, you can also meet Jack Kerouac, not only once, but three times – played by Jack Houston (Kill Your Darlings), Jean-Marc Barr (Big Sur) and Sam Riley (On the Road).
Asian panorama
Nowadays, Asian cinema consists of more than the old traditional countries such as China, Korea or Japan, although their representatives won’t be missing in our program, either. The production of China is huge, but you can hardly come across a film that would be made under standard conditions, meaning not with an extremely low budget and in an underground way, nor would it be servile to the ever-active state propaganda. However, director Jia Zhang-ke undoubtedly fulfills both these criteria with his latest opus, A Touch of Sin, a sharp accusation of the situation in the country that has combined the worst of both capitalism and communism. Korea is represented by the star of local art cinema, director Kim Ki-duk with his latest film, Moebius, which brings to the viewers all that earned this uncompromising filmmaker an assured position in the history of world cinema. And our favorite, Japan’s Atsushi Funahashi, returns to Febiofest with his latest opus, Cold Bloom, an emotionally strong story of one forbidden love affair. The collection of Asian films would not be complete without a representative of Iranian cinema. Bending the Rules is proof that local filmmakers are not losing courage but quite the opposite – they are commenting on the traumas of life in an oppressed country with increasing frankness, void of language utilizing hidden meanings and symbols. The thriller Soul by Chung Mong-hong represents a promising generation of young talents from Taiwan, who master various genres. The Golden Camera for the best debut at Cannes was awarded to director Anthony Chen from Singapore for his family drama, Ilo Ilo. The difficult fate of the Kurdish nation without a home is the topic of films by Hiner Saleem, a Kurd currently living in France. His latest opus, My Sweet Pepper Land, is doused with absurd humor as well. The Australian filmmaker Greg Sneddon travelled to exotic Bhutan to shoot Arrows of the Thunder Dragon, a film brimming with Buddhism and thus purely Asian. Finally, we should not forget India: the country with the largest film production in the world is undergoing a great boom and establishing itself at world festivals. Three pictures in our program prove that, representing various aspects of Indian work which have one thing in common, however: high artistic quality. Two of them, Liar's Dice and Siddharth, share a common topic – they depict the arduous life of people from the lowest social class, those least important, and most exploited and abused. The third Indian production, Monsoon Shootout, is the debut of director Amit Kumar, proving that contemporary filmmakers in India have mastered various genres that are more typical of Western cinema – for example, a thriller full of suspense. While watching the film, the viewer may be reminded not only of the films of Quentin Tarantino, but also of the iconic German film, Run Lola Run.
Latin American Panorama
The film Workers, by José Luis Valle from Mexico, begins with a six-minute scene in which the main protagonist enters a local brothel. The camera remains outside and observes the house where he's disappeared. No cuts, only a single long shot. Yet the essence of all of Mexico marches in front of us. Pimps and dealers talk with the prostitutes. Policemen come, but disappear again. Then everybody leaves to sharpen their knives. Gradually, the sun goes down and we feel that tomorrow will be the same as today. At first glance, it might seem purely formulaic. Yes, this scene is very bold, yet it is not lacking content. The power of Workers lies in universality of its testimony – it is a film about injustice and revenge of the small, oppressed and humiliated. And this truly describes the cinema of contemporary Latin America: innovative, modern, formally bold, but offering a testimony about the people and the times they are living in on this continent. The uncompromising Amat Escalante shows Mexico from its darkest side, as a country torn by the war on drugs. Like his previous film, The Bastards, which was presented at Febiofest in 2009, he does not spare the viewer in his latest opus, Heli. Director Fernando Eimbcke has also gained international prestige. His latest opus, Club Sandwich, which succeeded at last year's San Sebastian festival, is a fragile, formally minimalist story about growing up. Nobody has to worry about the future of Mexican cinema, as proved by Claudie Sainte-Luce's confident debut, The Amazing Catfish. Another country vying for attention is Chile. Alicia Scherson has already gained acclaim for her two previous productions. Although her latest film, The Future, was shot in Rome, it tells the story of two Chilean orphans who get trapped in the Italian metropolis after their parents die. She cast an actress who is probably the internationally most famous face of the Chilean New Wave, Manuela Martelli, whose main role is excellently complemented by Dutch star, Rutger Hauer, in the role of a former star of kitschy Italian epic historical productions of 1950s. Two purely independent films from Cuba are definitely worth your attention this year, reminding us how far one can get with a socialist revolution. Melaza and Giraffes offer two views of life’s misery and how the people of the “island of freedom” deal with it in their own ways. Countries that haven’t quite established their international reputation yet are included in our selection as well. The Venezuelan film, Bad Hair by Mariana Rondon, is the winner of the San Sebastian festival, and the minimalist debut of Neto Villalobos from Costa Rica, All About the Feathers, is full of absurd humor in the style of Jarmusch.
The Rhythms of Balkans
The main attraction of this year's section, presenting the cinema of the Balkan region, will be a tribute to the Serbian filmmaker, Srdan Golubovic, whose films focus on the moral crises that war left in the souls of the inhabitants of former Yugoslavia. Serbian cinema, living proof that issues of state funding represents the least important problem for inspiration, is completed by Goran Markovic's Falsifier, the latest opus of a director who is really popular among Czech viewers. It is not only this film that offers typical Balkan humor, but also the Croatian film, The Priest's Children; tragic tones and darkness of the still present trauma of the past, on the other hand, emanate from Jasmila Zbanic's For Those Who Can Tell No Tales. The portrait of this region's cinema would not be complete without a representative of the Romanian New Wave and an example of Greek cinema. Minimalist, and in style typical for the New Wave, Tudor Cristian Jurgiu's directing debut Japanese Dog was produced by Tudor Giurgiu, a guest of last year's Febiofest, yet it warms us with its humanity. From Greece, The Enemy Within by Yorgos Tsemperopoulos metaphorically reflects the crisis that the country suddenly succumbed to, although it is only a story of a man who wants to take justice in his own hands. Finally, we will follow the tribute to Semih Kaplanoglu and the recent Turkish retrospective with at least one film of the master of Turkish cinema, Jîn by the director Reha Erdem, which will please all those who look for pure film narrative and power of imagery in the cinema.Tsemperopoulos metaphorically reflects the crisis that the country suddenly succumbed to, although it is only a story of a man who wants to take justice in his own hands. Finally, we will follow the tribute to Semih Kaplanoglu and the recent Turkish retrospective with at least one film of the master of Turkish cinema, Jîn by the director Reha Erdem, which will please all those who look for pure film narrative and power of imagery in the cinema.
Northern Lights
The last six editions of Febiofest have introduced the contemporary cinema of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The films of the Northern countries simply constitute an inseparable part of Febiofest and have a substantial fan base here. This is why we've decided to establish a new section, Northern Lights, which will be dedicated to the best of not only Scandinavia, but also of Finland and the Baltic states: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Opening title of the section is the movie of director Ragnar Bragason – Metalhead. This year's Febiofest will thus feature the cinema of North Europe. Furthermore, three films from the North are included in this year's Main Competition as well. There will be two more films included in the program as special introductions: Detektiv Down, a Norwegian-Czech coproduction; as well as a Czech-Finnish coproduction, April Fools. April Fools stars Kati Outinen, the first lady of Kaurismäki's pictures, and we pay tribute to her this year by dedicating an entire program section to her.
Some topics, it seems, literally beg for an original approach. This is why films, focusing on a character in an extreme situation, which are between experimental and mainstream, appear in this section every year. The protagonist may lose someone close to them and find refuge in the Wirikuta desert (Táu Mexico) or to a strange, frozen industrial landscape (Drift Belgium), or to an absolute silence within a family circle (40 Days of Silence Uzbek-Tajik), either to find lost balance or just to process unspeakable pain. Nature helps the protagonists to reflect on their situation, but it simultaneously represents a distinctive aesthetic element. Torrent, from Canada, alternates takes of a turbulent river with shots of a calm wooded landscape representing the protagonist succumbing to his fate. Another distinctive impulse is represented by films with teenage protagonists who observe the world around them in an unorthodox way. Fragile, from Israel, views the life of one house in the 1960s through the eyes of a girl, and Wolf lets us follow the steps of an “almost adult” youth through an apartment building in today's Romania. In both films, the house can be perceived as a metaphor for various stages of human life. A unique form of psychological drama can be seen in Uncle, from Chile, which combines historical reality, theatrical performance and a documentary about a real Chilean politician, as seen through the eyes of his nephew. A completely escapist genre, on the other hand, was chosen by the makers of a North Korean fairy-tale propaganda, Comrade Kim Goes Flying, about a miner who dreams of becoming an acrobat. The interesting aspect of this film is what it does not show about the reality of totalitarian North Korea, and how strikingly different is the viewing experience it offers to Korean and European audiences. Rabbit Woman, an Argentinian thriller, finds inspiration in Japanese animated manga, yet another popular type of art, which films of this section repeatedly use.
Another Shore
This year’s Another Shore, our annual section dedicated to the best of contemporary queer cinema, reverberates with a dozen strong features from different corners of Europe and beyond. While the filmmaking styles and approaches to storytelling vary, many of the films have intense love stories at the core. Some of them may remind us of ongoing homophobic prejudice; some are set against the backdrop of other complex issues. In others, we escape into a dreamy, fantasy world, and at times, humor is indeed the best remedy. But even in queer cinema, it seems impossible to ignore the increasing urgency in the way socio-economic conditions affect the characters and stories told. Despite their unique differences, what all of these features have in common is their hunger for authenticity and the courage to push the boundaries of portrayal of queer characters on screen.
Febiofest Junior
This year's section for (not only) the youngest audience is dominated by dreams in all forms. The main character of Justin and the Knights of Valour dreams of armor and valiant fights, the snail from Turbo wants to be the fastest in the world, and Dusty Crophopper from Planes would like to participate in the greatest race on the planet. Furthermore, the fearless Anna from a fairy-tale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen wants to find her sister who is imprisoned by ice magic. The sequel to the successful animated comedy, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, lets the protagonists battle other products of the food machine – food-animal hybrids. And another animated comedy, Pavel Koutsky bold view on Czech history and the Hussite movement, will show us how two complete goofs set history in motion.
Special Screening
Several films made with the participation of Czech producers, which are heading to Czech cinemas, will be presented at special screenings at this year's Febiofest. The pre-premier of the comedy April Fools by the Finnish director Taru Mäkelä and Detektiv Down by the Norwegian director Bård Breien will receive the personal support of their creators as well as the main actors. Another successful co-production has received the Audience Award at the recent Berlinale, Velvet Terrorists by the Slovak directing trio, Peter Kerekes, Pavol Pekarcik, and Ivan Ostrochovsky, is a documentary that surpasses the genre's borders in many ways. A Very Unsettled Summer, directed by Anca Damian from Romania, is a co-production created with actors and producers from Romania, Sweden, Great Britain and the Czech Republic. An entirely Czech production To See a Sea, Jiri Madl's directorial debut, will premiere at Febiofest as well – a film that is still waiting for its confrontation with the world.
Tribute to Isaach de Bankolé
Isaach De Bankolé, an actor originally from the Ivory Coast, first established himself in the film industry of France where he received the prestigious national prize, the César award, for his performance in Black Mic Mac (1986). However, it was his collaboration with the prestigious French director, Claire Denis, with whom he shares the roots of the black continent, which actually launched his career and earned him critical appraisal. Their breakthrough work was drama Chocolat (1988), which started their work together on films revolving around the cultural traditions of the African community during the colonial period and around the African immigrants in Paris. Twenty years later, they met again while shooting White Material (2009). Bankolé is also known as one of American independent director Jim Jarmusch’s favorite actors, first working with him in supporting roles. He was cast as a Parisian taxi driver in a segment of the short story film Night on Earth (1991), he appeared as an ice-cream vendor in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), and he also played in one short segment in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003). His main role came in Jarmusch's Limits of Control (2009), where he played a silent gangster with an almost unvarying facial expression. Bankolé collaborated with such directors as Lars von Trier (Manderlay, 2005) and Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 2007). His latest films include the thriller I Am Slave (2010), which points out the practices of modern slavery in civilized countries, and a visually captivating drama, Mother of George (2013), which offers an insight into the different cultural tradition of the African community in the USA. Isaach de Bankolé has also tried moving behind the camera with his directorial debut, Traveling Miles: Cassandra Wilson, in 2000.
Tribute to Barbora Bobul'ová
Barbora Bobuľová (b.29th April 1974) Born in Martin, Slovakia, the beautiful graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava debuted in Juraj Lihosito's Czechoslovakian drama, Commuters, in 1988. Czech audiences know her thanks to her role of Princess Pavlinka from the fairy tale Immortal Auntie (1993) by Zdenek Zelenka. In 1995, she moved to Italy and two years later, she appeared in Prince of Homburg (1996), a historical war drama that was nominated for the Palme d'Or in Cannes. She soon established her career in Italy, as is proved by her numerous awards, and she is a popular and frequently cast actress. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with many famous colleagues; one of her most interesting films, from the point of view of the cast, is Mirka (1999). Apart from Bobulova, this oblique drama about the horrors of war includes Gérard Depardieu, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. One of her greatest achievements is her role in the mystery drama Sacred Heart (2005), directed by Ferzan Ozpetek. Her portrayal of an ambitious and modern woman who is suddenly confronted with her own conscience as well as mental illness earned her several awards, including the David di Donatello for the Best Actress. She made her first English-speaking film in 2008 – she portrayed the younger version of the famous fashion designer Coco Chanel in the two-part television drama, with Shirley MacLaine as the older Coco. Apart from the dramatic roles of women in distress, she plays comedic bits just as easily, as proved by the supporting role of a former porn star from Eastern Europe in the tragicomedy Easy! (2011).
Tribute to Sylvain Chomet
Animator, director and scriptwriter Sylvain Chomet was born in France in 1963. He has been interested in art and drawing since his childhood. After graduating from a prestigious art school in Angouleme, Chomet started to focus on his own art as a graphic novel illustrator. His first book, The Secret of Dragonflies, was published in 1986 and led to a very successful series of other stories. However, Chomet wanted to bring his illustrations to life and so in 1989, he began to prepare his first short animated film, The Old Lady and the Pigeons. The metaphorical story about a peculiar old lady, a poor hungry Parisian patrolman, obese pigeons, and the desire for wealth earned him his first Oscar nomination in 1997. Although the winner that year was Geri's Game, the nomination itself represented a great success for the young artist. Not only did Chomet establish an international reputation, but he was also offered a position at Disney Studios. While Chomet accepted, working in such a giant studio left his creative spirit unfulfilled and led him to the realization that he wanted to work on his own. The Triplets of Belleville, his feature debut, premiered in 2003. The melancholy comedy was nominated for an Oscar, establishing Chomet as an exceptional animator with a unique style and charm, once and for all. His latest animated film, The Illusionist, just confirmed that. The film was based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati, whom Chomet has admired his whole life. Despite the not-exactly-enthusiastic reception of his live-action debut, Attila Marcel (2013), and financial failure of his production company, Django Films, Sylvain Chomet remains one of the most remarkable personalities of film animation.
Tribute to Kati Outinen
The Finnish actress Kati Outinen was born in Helsinki in 1961, where years later, she went on to study at the Theatre Academy under the guidance of a controversial director, Jouko Turkka, and she focused on stage acting for several years after graduation. Her first film role was as a teenager, Lizzy, in a drama about growing up and rebellion, Right on, Man! by Tapio Suominen in 1980. She gained a reputation among film viewers and critics six years later, thanks to the first of many collaborations with legendary the Finnish director, Aki Kaurismäki. Shadows in Paradise was made in 1986 and Outinen appeared by the side of Matti Pellonpää for the very first time. They portrayed an unusual pair of lovers, a shop assistant and a garbage man, somewhat outsiders in a modern society. The roles that followed resembled the shop assistant, Ilona, in many aspects. Silent characters outcast from the society who find the courage for personal revenge, just like Iris in The Match Factory Girl. Outinen received one of the most prestigious awards, the Palme d'Or at IFF Cannes for the Best Actress for her role of Irma in the last part of Kaurismäki's “Finnish trilogy”, The Man without the Past. Although it was her cooperation with Aki Kaurismäki that made Kati Outinen truly famous, she has made films with numerous other filmmakers outside of Finland. She also in starred a number of coproduction projects. Czech viewers have had the chance to see Kati Outinen in a romantic comedy, set against the backdrop of the Cold War, April Fools (2013), or in a Czech-Finnish coproduction – the horror film, Sauna (2008). Yet her most distinctive role for the Czech audience was her part in Clownwise (2013) by Viktor Taus, which earned her a nomination for the Czech Lion for Best Actress. Apart from acting, Kati Outinen currently focuses also on sharing her experience, teachings acting the Theatre Academy in Helsinki, where she used to study.
Tribute to Gianni Amelio
Gianni Amelio (b. 20th January 1945) The Italian scriptwriter and director is one of the permanent stars of European festivals. After he finished his philosophy studies, he began working for the Italian state TV, which provided an opportunity for young talents in late 1960s. His feature debut, Blow to the Heart (1983) about a generation gap and terrorism, received several awards at the Venice Film Festival. Amelio often discusses the topic of a missing father (or parental) figure in his films. This autobiographical element is often accompanied by an educated and distressing study of the state of the society, being it the everyday reality of China (The Missing Star, 2006) or post-totalitarian Albania (Lamerica, 1994). The center of his attention involves an individual and his interactions within damaged interpersonal relationships, which have been distorted by an often hopeless social situation. Between 2008 and 2012, he was the director of the Turin festival.
You're the Filmmaker: Films from Cellphones!
The 21st year of the International Film Festival Febiofest includes a new competition of films shot with cellphones, with a running time of one to five minutes. Fifty-five short films were entered in the competition, and local film professionals have chosen the six finalists. These six will compete for the votes of the jury consisting of acclaimed filmmakers – Febiofest's guests – who will lead a workshop for the finalists and provide advice for future film work. On Sunday March 23th, the seven selected films will be screened for the public, as well as seven more short films that captured attention but didn't make it among the finalists. A truly unique opportunity for amateur filmmakers to see their work on the screen of an international film festival!
The Rhythms of Balkans: Srdan Golubović
The charismatic Srdan Golubovic, born in 1972 in Belgrade, is one of the most acclaimed contemporary Serbian directors. Although his filmography is not particularly extensive, consisting of only a few pictures, all of his feature films were presented and awarded at important world festivals, such as Berlinale, IFF Toronto or IFF Rotterdam. Srdan Golubovic's feature debut, Absolute Hundred (2001), focuses on the topic of post-war trauma and blood feuds, which became significant for Golubovic's work, and appear in his other feature films in some form as well. The Trap is the story of a loving father, who is forced to take a job to commit a murder, to save his gravely ill son. In Circles, the characters are trying to cope with a trauma caused by the unjust death of one man during the Yugoslavian war. Marko stood up for a Muslim salesman and his courage cost him his life. Circles premiered at the 63rd Berlinale and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance festival. It considered the film unique because it forces us to realize the absurdity and insanity of war in all its forms. Yet Srdan Golubovic is more than a film director. He devotes a great deal of his energy also to film production – he works in the Bas Celik production company which focuses on music videos, commercials, marketing campaigns, and also on production of short films and support of independent artists. At the moment, Golubovic also teaches at the Department of Film Direction at the University of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade.