Adina Pintilie's Touch Me Not, winner of the top prize at this year's Berlinale and the award for the best debut, will be one of the opening films at the New Horizons International Film Festival in Wrocław (screening on July 26). The New Horizons Association has also acquired the rights to distribute the film in Poland.
Touch Me Not blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality. Pintilie has made a film that "is not a documentary, but it is certainly not fiction," says Tómas Lemarquis, one of the stars of the film. The Romanian director tests the therapeutic potential of exposing one's body and emotions-in the company of the film's three protagonists. Observing the (mostly) improvised interactions between them, Pintilie poses questions about how we understand concepts such as "intimacy," "beauty," "relationships" and "desire."
The Golden Bear winner calls her film a mirror that shows us that the Other is really a reflection of ourselves: "we are all, in some respects, excluded, marginalized, perceived as outsiders." Touch Me Not is an ode to the human body and to the desires connected with it; above all, it's a call for acceptance of otherness. It is only once this condition is fulfilled that we can expect society to accept us as well.
Małgorzata Sadowska, the New Horizons film selector, said: "Touch Me Not not only touches on the subjects of the body, sexuality, and intimacy; it really is touching. In one scene, a sex coach punches the protagonist in the chest-Adina Pintilie's film hits us in exactly the same way. How we respond depends on us, on our relationship to our own bodies: whether we cry out, start sobbing, step back quickly or start taking deep breaths. The young Romanian director's incredibly bold, fascinating mixture of documentary, psychological drama, feature film, and performance art is something that is experienced rather than watched. Films rarely deal with the body in such an open and mature way, leaving that to pornography instead. Pintilie brings this back to us, the viewers, so that we can finally feel, understand, and love our tense, neglected bodies."
Marcin Pieńkowski, the artistic director of the New Horizons International Film Festival, said: "This was a great surprise for me and an extraordinary discovery at the Berlin festival. A magnetic, shocking, very powerful quasi-documentary about the human body: its desires, feelings, frustrations and crises. Cinema as bizarre therapy and a mesmerizing experiment that it is worth taking part in and worth persevering. I'm glad that Tom Tykwer and other members of the jury recognized the film-it was a very bold decision."
Tadeusz Sobolewski, from "Gazeta Wyborcza", had this to say: "The phenomenal Touch Me Not was a bold decision by the jury, and it was the right one. … Touch Me Not doesn't function like a film, which is often an instrument for voyeurism. The scenes in this film serve as a form of release, of liberation; there's no room for prurience. For those people who are unable to accept their bodies or their otherness, Pintilie relieves them of their anxieties. The categories of shame, shamelessness, and sin no longer count, and fears are defeated. This is also the case with viewers who 'arm themselves' against the sight of nudity."
Marcin Stachowicz, of filmweb.pl, commented: "The Romanian filmmaker has blurred the boundary between fiction and documentary, delving deep into her characters' bodies, bringing to life their most intimate fantasies. She was completely self-aware when making her film."
Join us at the 18th New Horizons International Film Festival from 26 July to 5 August.