La telenovela errante, a film Raúl Ruiz shot in 1990 (image above) and now fully realized by his widow and editor, Valeria Sarmiento, is one of the highlights of the lineup for this year’s Locarno Film Festival. The seventieth edition will open on August 2 with Noémie Lvovsky’s Tomorrow and Thereafter and then run through 12.
Olivier Assayas will preside over the International Competition jury; Yousry Nasrallah will be president of the Filmmakers of the Present jury; and president of the of the Pardi di domani Competition jury will be Sabine Azéma.
Wang Bing’s Mrs. Fang. From this year’s documenta: “Fang Xiu Ying is sixty-seven years old and suffers from Alzheimer’s, and yet she slowly understands that her life is coming to an end. Taking place in a quiet village in southern China, Fang Xiu Ying deals with the feelings of a person nearing death, as well as the lives of her relatives and neighbors who gather around her to say their final goodbyes.”
Xu Bing’s Dragonfly Eyes (Qing Ting Zhi Yan). Variety’s Nick Vivarelli describes it as “a montage of Chinese closed-circuit camera footage used to create a fictional story.”
Serge Bozon’s Madame Hyde. As Nicholas Bell notes at Ioncinema, Bozon is re-teaming with Isabelle Huppert for “a female centric version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, examining the contemporary education system in this story about a teacher whose demeanor changes after she’s struck by lightning. Co-starring Romain Duris.”
Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse. Swiss Films introduces the documentary: “Jean-François, Ronald, Alexis, Cédric, Benoit and Maxim are modern-day gladiators. A strong man, a professional bodybuilder or a veteran turned trainer, they all share the same obsession. In wait of their next competition, they train hard and they diet harder. This is a free exploration of the over regulated lives of these misunderstood monsters.”
Andreï Cretulescu’s Charleston. From Versatile: “A couple of weeks after his wife Ioana dies in a car crash, drubk and alone on the night he turns 42, Alexandru receives a visit. Sebastian, a shy, younger man, has been Ioana's lover for the past five months. Sebastian has an outrageous request: he wants Alexandru to help him overcome the despair caused by Ioana's death…”
Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib. From the Tribeca Film Institute: “Shadi has returned to his hometown of Nazareth after years abroad to help his father hand-deliver his sister’s wedding invitations, as per local Palestinian custom. As the estranged pair spend the day together going house-to-house to deliver the invitations, the tense details of their relationship come to a head challenging their fragile and very different lives.”
Aaron Katz’s Gemini. A Los Angeles noir with Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, and Nelson Franklin. For reviews, see Critics Round Up.
Dominik Locher’s Goliath. From Swiss Films: “After sensitive David (24) and his pregnant girlfriend Jessy (22) are beaten up, David starts using steroids. But instead of protecting his girl and their unborn baby, he is becoming a threat to them. When the amateur bodybuilder loses control of his temper and beats her, she leaves him. Only when David abducts his newborn daughter from the hospital, he becomes aware of his maniac behavior. He returns the baby and asks Jessy for forgiveness.”
John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky. Along with Gemini, this is one of the four films I caught at this year’s SXSW that I wrote up as recommendations. With Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, and James Darren.
Germano Maccioni’s Gli asteroidi. In an industrial wasteland, two friends become convinced that the end of the world is nigh. At least, that’s what I can make out from the synopsis at FilmItalia.
Jim McKay’s En el Séptimo Día. When it screened at BAMcinemaFest last month, Mike Hale profiled McKay for the New York Times, noting that On the Seventh Day is “a story of bicycle delivery men and soccer, set and filmed in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Carroll Gardens. It was made over two years, in the gaps between about 15 directing assignments for TV.”
F. J. Ossang’s 9 Doigts. Last year, Fabien Lemercier noted at Cineuropa that “the story starts at night in a town surprised by a flurry of snow and ice, in a station where all the trains are at a standstill. Magloire steps outside for a cigarette. Everything happens during a police check. He takes flight as he is, without bags or a future, and comes across a dying man. He finds a wad of cash whilst the former succumbs to death, but then the problems start: there’s a gang hot on his heels, which takes him hostage before working with him, as Magloire deals with things like someone who expects nothing from life.” With Paul Hamy, Damien Bonnard, Gaspard Ulliel, and Pascal Greggory.
Hlynur Pálmason’s Vinterbrødre. According to the Danish Film Institute, it’s the story of two brothers and their rivalry with another family.
Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra’s Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras). From the directors of Hard Labor (2011). Urban Distribution: “Clara, a lonely nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo, is hired by mysterious and wealthy Ana as the nanny of her unborn child. Against all odds, the two women develop a strong bond. But a fateful night changes their plans.”
Raúl Ruiz’s La telenovela errante. Shot in Santiago in November 1990 and described by Valeria Sarmiento as a reflection on Chile after Pinochet (La Tercera). In February, actress and filmmaker Chamila Rodríguez and novelist and Chilean Cultural Attaché Roberto Brodsky discussed the reconstruction.
Ben Russell’s Good Luck. From KinoElektron: “Filmed between a state-owned large-scale underground mine in the war-torn state of Serbia and an illegal mining collective in the tropical heat of Suriname, Good Luck is a visceral documentary portrait of hope and sacrifice in a time of global economic turmoil.”
Jan Speckenbach’s Freedom (Freiheit). From One Two Films: “A woman walks out on her husband and two children without a word of explanation. . . . Nora (40) roams through a museum in Vienna, has sex with a young man and hitchhikes randomly on to Bratislava. . . . Meanwhile in Berlin, Philip (mid 40s) is trying to manage his family, his job and his affair with Monika.”
Travis Wilkerson’s Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? See Critics Round Up.
Samuel Benchetrit’s Dog (Chien). Last year at Cineuropa, Fabien Lemercier noted that it “revolves around Jacques Blanchot, who loses everything—his wife, his son, his home and his job. He gradually becomes detached from the world around him. A pet-shop owner takes him in, but as he is unable to make a friend, he makes him his dog instead. But to what extent can someone be dehumanized? This is the story of the demise of an everyman (could be me, could be you), told with humor and self-deprecation . . .” With Vanessa Paradis, Vincent Macaigne, and Bouli Lanners.
Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Let the Corpses Tan (Laissez bronzer les cadavres). The official synopsis via Todd Brown at ScreenAnarchy: “The Mediterranean summer: blue sea, blazing sun . . . and 250 kg of gold stolen by Rhino and his gang! They had found the perfect hideout: an abandoned and remote hamlet now taken over by a woman artist in search for inspiration. Unfortunately surprise guests and two cops compromise their plan: the heavenly place where wild happenings and orgies used to take place turns into a gruesome battlefield.”
Francesca Comencini’s Stories of Love that Cannot Belong to this World (Amori che non sanno stare al mondo). From the synopsis at Cineuropa: “Claudia and Flavio loved one another for a long time, obsessively . . . Then it all ended. . . . Flavio meets Giorgia—an instant between them is all it takes, and the summer rain does the rest. . . . Claudia and Nina already knew one another . . . The film is the portrait of two generations.”
Samuel Jouy’s Sparring. From the Film Catalogue: Boxer Steve Landry (Mathieu Kassovitz) has lost more fights than he’s ever won. But he’s never given up on his career. Now over 40, he’s pretty much washed up in the ring. His one last chance to dazzle his wife and kid to become boxing great Tarek M’Barek’s sparring partner.” Kassovitz will receive the Excellence Award Moët & Chandon on August 5.
David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde. In his profile of Charlize Theron, the current Variety cover story, Ramin Setoodeh calls Atomic Blonde “a high-adrenaline action movie that feels like a mash-up of The Bourne Identity and Alias set in 1989 Berlin.”
Noémie Lvovsky’s Tomorrow and Thereafter (Demain et tous les autres jours). From Cinando: “Mathilde is ten years old. Her parents are separated and she lives alone with her mother. Her mother is disturbed and has trouble coping with everyday life and the real world. Mathilde can see that others consider her mother crazy, but to her it’s just everyday life. She protects her mother. She can sense the threat of separation, without knowing when or how it could take place. She does all she can to forestall it, fully aware that all her efforts are doomed to fail.” With Lvovsky, Mathieu Amalric, and Anaïs Demoustier.
Kevin Merz’s Gotthard - One Life, One Soul. “The closing film will celebrate [the] Swiss hard-rock band,” notes Vivarelli.
Nadir Moknèche’s Lola Pater. From uniFrance: “When his mother dies, Zino decides to look for his father, Farid. But twenty-five years ago, Farid became Lola . . .” With Fanny Ardant.
Felix Randau’s Iceman. From Amour Fou: “5000 years ago: A man lives with his woman and their children in the Ötztals Alps. He has to leave his family in order to hunt and provide the necessary food to survive. But when he comes back to the hut, he finds his family murdered, the shed burned down and the holy amulet stolen. Full of rage, he decides to challenge the freezing mountains to find the killer of his family. . . . The (possible) history of Ötzi, the Ice-man.” With Jürgen Vogel.
Josh and Benny Safdie’s Good Time with Robert Pattinson. For reviews, see Critics Round Up.
Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick. CRU.
Anup Singh’s The Song of Scorpions. From Swiss Films: “A contemporary tale of twisted love, revenge and the redemptive power of a song, which unfurls like a folktale. Nooran is a singer, a scorpion healer, a midwife and a medicine woman for the Sindhi community of Rajasthan. When Aadam, a camel trader in the desert community, realizes that Nooran, the woman he passionately loves, does not care about him, he seeks redress by paying a young thug to sexually attack her. Feeling herself poisoned by the brutal violation, Nooran sets off on a mystical journey to seek and avenge herself on her unknown attacker through the power of her song.”
Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s Sicilia! (1999). From TIFF: “Based on Elio Vittorini's 1939 novel Conversations in Sicily (which was banned by the Fascist government), Sicilia! is a four-part ‘road movie’ that follows Silvestro, an immigrant who is returning home to the island after fifteen years in America. In the film's centerpiece, where Silvestro confronts his mother (the formidable Angela Nugara) over her desertion of her husband, Nugara's response—a kind of obdurate aria about myth and machismo, cowardice and infidelity—supplies contemporary cinema with one of its most memorable sequences. For a film that fairly spumes with language, Sicilia! luxuriates most in William Lubtchansky's lustrous black-and-white images.”
Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked with a Zombie (1943). CRU.
Tommy Wirkola’s What Happened to Monday? Stars Noomi Rapace “as seven identical twins in a futuristic world where families are limited to one child because of overpopulation,” as Rebecca Ford noted in her interview with Wirkola (Dead Snow) for the Hollywood Reporter last year.
Jan Zabeil’s Three Peaks (Drei Zinnen). From Rohfilm: “After being a couple for more than two years, Aaron decides to invite Lea and her six year old son, Tristan, to a trip in the high mountains, determined to take their relationship to the next level. The days and nights in the small hut turn out to be more difficult then expected.”
Filmmakers of the Present
Pedro Cabeleira’s Damned Summer (Verão Danado). From Slingshot Films: “The summer of Chico starts at home, with his grandparents, under the cover of the lemon trees. An outlet. The ground of his childhood memories. But now, he belongs to Lisbon, where he graduated and where he hopes to find a career. Chico is part of a generation without prospects and expectations, where reaching adulthood seems to be perpetually delayed. The nights of Lisbon, intoxicated by its affections and heartbreaks, hold him into a psychedelic hedonism, where burning anguish fuels into euphoria.”
Dustin Guy Defa’s Person to Person. CRU.
Felipe Hirsch’s Severina. From the IMDb: “A tale of obsessive love. The bookstore owner is soon entangled in Severina's mystery: seductive and enigmatic, of uncertain nationality, she steals books. As in a dream, the disoriented man finds that the thin border between rational and irrational is no longer reliable.”
Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats. CRU.
Gürcan Keltek’s Meteors (Meteorlar). Even on his Facebook page, Keltek doesn’t say much about this one other than that it’s his first feature.
Kim Dae-hawn’s The First Lap (Cho-Haeng). From the Jeonju Cinema Project: “Soo-hyun and Ji-young, a young couple, are in the sixth year of their cohabitation in Seoul. After Ji-young tells that her periods stopped, Soo-hyun decides to face his families whom he´s been trying to shun.”
Andrea Magnani’s Easy. From Premium Films: “Isidoro, aka Easy, is depressed. His career as a car racer golden boy stopped when he couldn't fit in his car anymore, after he piled too much weight. One day, his brother comes to him with a job: drive a coffin with the body of an Ukrainian bricklayer, from Italy to Ukraine. Unfortunately, he might go by the name of Easy, but for him nothing is, and he will soon get lost.”
Narimane Mari’s Le Fort des Fous. From FIDMarseille: “In 1860, the Algerian Sahara is very coveted, although cruel expeditions destroy all projects of conquest. However, there are men who transcend turf wars and believe in the powers of this mystical land to establish a society out of the ordinary.”
Valerie Massadian’s Milla. The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard notes that it “deals with a 17-year-old girl about to become a mother in an isolated village in the north of France.”
Ilian Metev’s 3/4. From the co-director of Sofia’s Last Ambulance (2012).
Shevaun Mizrahi’s Distant Constellation. Filmmaker’s Vadim Rizov notes that she uses “duration and unblinking portraiture to relax the viewer’s rhythms to her subject’s pulses. In a Turkish retirement home, time stands still while residents reminisce. Outside, overhanging cranes and desolate construction lots testify to a changing area, but inside the residents are virtually alone with their memories. Slowly, a woman tells of her family’s suffering through the Armenian genocide; an old man lustfully recalls past sexual encounters and reads from Lolita; a now blind photographer becomes the photographed.”
Ninomiya Ryutaro’s Sweating the Small Stuff (Edaha no koto). Coming up empty on this one so far.
Astrid Johanna Ofner’s Farewell (Abschied von den Eltern). Austrian Films notes that it’s “based on Peter Weiss’s 1960 story of the same name. Following Weiss’s autobiographical account of his childhood and adolescence and his half-Jewish family’s odyssey across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, the film cinematographically explores a young man's fight for personal independence and his struggle for an artist’s life as a painter and writer.”
Riccardo Palladino’s The Mount of Ants (Il Monte delle Formiche). CinemaItaliano notes that it’s a documentary about a sacred mountain near Bologna where winged ants from all over Italy converge to mate during a religious holiday.
Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother (Sashishi Deda). From the Facebook page: “A 50-year-old housewife, Manana, struggles with her dilemma—she has to choose between her family life and her passion, writing, which she had repressed for years—she decides to follow her passion and plunges herself into writing, sacrificing to it mentally and physically.”
Signs of Life
Basma Alsharif’s Ouroboros. From the Whitney Museum: “Alsharif pays homage to the Gaza Strip, upending mass-mediated representations of trauma. Journeying outside of time, the allegorical narrative is based on the eternal return and how we move forward when all is lost.”
Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias’s Cocote. From the IMDb: “An Evangelical Christian man attends the burial of his father in his hometown, where he has to participate in religious cults that clash with his beliefs.”
Giovanni Columba’s Surbiles. Anybody?
Rana Eid’s Panoptic. The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture describes the documentary: “On the surface, Lebanon is a vibrant [country] driven by consumerism and an eagerness for modern life. Beneath this façade however is a subterranean landscape of remains from the country’s macabre history, hidden from the population above. Panoptic explores this underground level to reveal how, although invisible, it is nonetheless present within the soul of the Lebanese people.”
Radu Jude’s The Dead Nation (Țara moartă). From the synopsis at One World Romania: “The Costică Acsinte collection of studio photographs documenting almost seven decades of Romanian family life was rediscovered and scanned by Mario-Cezar Popescu and has become an object of nostalgic projection for a Romanian public eager to romanticize its past. But director Radu Jude uses the Acsinte collection as visuals for a narrative constructed from archival sound and the personal diary of Doctor Emil Dorian, whose literary output was banned by the antisemitic regime of the early 1940s.” Update: “Jude resists a didactic approach,” writes Patrick Holzapfel in the Notebook. “He leaves it to the viewer to decide whether to look at the images or listen to the voiceover. Some may want to enjoy the beauty of those romantic and beautiful images, others will not be able to see them at all, and others, such as myself, will find themselves in a gap where the act of seeing gets questioned as such.”
Dane Komljen’s Fantasy Sentences (Phantasiesätze). From the Heinrich Böll Foundation: “The last New Year’s Eve. A birthday party. A swim in a lake. Thirty years later, treetops with wild animals beneath them, bushes growing out of the concrete rooftops. A film in two movements linked together by a story about men being turned into foxes. The story sung, like a lullaby.”
Luis López Carrasco’s Aliens. A portrait of Tesa Arranz, former lead singer of Los Zombies, a band popular in Spain in the 1980s.
Boris Mitic’s In Praise of Nothing. IDFA calls it “a satirical documentary parable about Nothing, filmed by dozens of cinematographers from around the globe in an exciting collective brainstorming process.”
Laila Pakalnina’s Hello Horse! (Zirdziņ, Hallo!). From the National Film Centre of Latvia: “A film about everything changing while remaining the same. Or rather—everything remaining the same while changing. We observed this (and wanted to share) while standing (standing regularly and for a long time) on a road rather close to the Eastern border of Latvia, because we followed the suggestion of the locals who asked to shoot ‘that horrible road.’”
Adirley Queirós’s Once There Was Brazilia (Era uma vez Brasília). From what I can gather, it’s a science fiction thriller involving political assassination and time travel.
Clément Safra’s Filmus. Remains a mystery.
Histoire(s) du Cinéma
The Pardo d’onore Manor will be awarded to Jean-Marie Straub on August 11. Along with Straub’s Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter (1968), Kommunisten (2014), La Guerre d'Algérie! (2014), and L'Aquarium et la nation (2015), the festival will also present films he made with Danièle Huillet: From the Clouds to the Resistance (Dalla nube alla resistenza, 1979), En rachâchant (1982), Klassenverhältnisse (1984), Cézanne, Dialogue avec Joachim Gasquet (1989), Von heute auf morgen (1996), Incantati (2003), and Une visite au Louvre (2004).
Also in the program:
Sarunas Bartas’s Frost. “A young Lithuanian couple’s idea of a road trip is to drive from the Baltics to the war-torn Donbass region, in eastern Ukraine,” writes Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter.
David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars (2014). CRU.
Yance Ford’s Strong Island. CRU.
Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998). CRU.
Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002). Adrien Brody will receive the Leopard Club Award.
Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf’s Kleine Freiheit (1978) and Der Kongress der Pinguine (1993).
Paul Schrader’s Cat People (1981). CRU.
Paolo Virzè’s La pazza gioia (2016). From Jay Weissberg in Variety: “Characters and dialogue are the key to Paolo Virzì’s terrific comedy-drama Like Crazy, a study of two very different women in a psychiatric institution that avoids practically every pitfall such a short synopsis may conjure.”
Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas (1984). CRU.
The 2017 Retrospective is dedicated to Jacques Tourneur. Besides the presentation of I Walked with a Zombie (1943) on the Piazza Grande, the festival will also present Tout ça ne vaut pas l'amour (1931), Toto (1933), Pour être aimé (1933), Les Filles de la concierge (1934), Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939), They All Come Out (1939), Phantom Raiders (1940), Doctors Don’t Tell (1941), Cat People (1942), The Leopard Man (1943), Days of Glory (1944), Experiment Perilous (1944), Canyon Passage (1946), Out of the Past (1947), Berlin Express (1948), Easy Living (1949), Stars in My Crown (1950), The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Anne of the Indies (1951), Circle of Danger (1951), Way of a Goucho (1952), Appointment in Honduras (1953), Stranger on Horseback (1955), Wichita (1955), Great Day in the Morning (1956), Night of the Demon (1957), Nightfall (1957), The Fearmakers (1958), Timbuktu (1958), Frontier Rangers (1959), La battaglia di Maratona (The Giant of Marathon, completed by Mario Bava), The Comedy of Terrors (1963), and War-Gods of the Deep (City in the Sea) (1965).
And the shorts: Killer Dog (1936), Romance of Radium (1937), The King without a Crown (1937), What Do You Think? (1937), The Grand Bounce (1937), The Man in the Barn (1937), The Face Behind the Mask (1938), The Ship That Died (1938), Yankee Doodle Goes to Town (1939), The Incredible Stranger (1942), The Magic Alphabet (1942), Reward Unlimited (1944), and Twilight Zone: Night Call (1964).
Related screenings: Tourneur’s Films de famille (1947), Jacques Manlay’s Directed by Jacques Tourneur (1979), and Alain Mazars’s Jacques Tourneur, le médium (Filmer l'invisible) (2015).
The Pardi di domani program presents shorts and featurettes made by young directors in two competitions, national (Swiss) and international.
The Fuori concorso selection offers recent work—features and shorts, film essays and documentaries—by well-established filmmakers, out of competition, presented mostly as world or international premieres.
For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.