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Films by Farhadi, Spike Lee, Garrone, Lee Chang-dong

Burning, dir. Lee Chang-dong
The "OUT" Manifesto: Cinema as the Art of Escape 18th New Horizons IFF: Shortlist

Films by Asghar Farhadi, Spike Lee, Matteo Garrone and Lee Chang-dong—major titles from Cannes at the 18th New Horizons International Film Festival

The program for the 18th New Horizons International Film Festival will feature the opening film from this year's Cannes Festival, a psychological thriller by Asghar Farhadi (a two-time Oscar winner for A Separation and The Salesman, both shown at New Horizons). Although Everyone Knows (Todos lo saben) is set in the Spanish provinces, the Iranian director continues to focus on the same subjects that have been fascinating him for years. The devastating power of family secrets, a haunting past, the ruthlessness of class divisions, hidden intentions and economic dependencies-Farhadi's latest film has all of this. And just like in the superb About Elly, everything begins with the disappearance of a young girl. Farhadi tells the story with a light touch, combining outstanding drama with top-notch direction and great acting (Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem).

The latest film from the master of Italian cinema Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah, among others) will also be making its Polish premiere at New Horizons. This time, we're transported to dark, fairytale suburbs of Rome that somehow still look realistic. Dogman tells the story of Marcello (the wonderful Marcello Fonte, who won the Best Actor award at Cannes), a thirtysomething man never without a smile on his face; he is always trying to be nice to everyone, to avoid causing offense. More than anything, he loves his daughter and dogs, which he looks after with incredible tenderness. He runs a dog salon, where aggressive, drugged-out musclehead named Simoncino--who happens to look a bit like a Rottweiler himself-frequently drops in. He forces the easy-going Marcello to do him one favor after another, and Garrone observes how his blind-doglike-loyalty leads inexorably to frustration and violence. This would undoubtedly be a difficult tale to bear if not for the disarming Fonte, who brings to the film a sincere, unaffected and natural comedic quality that make his character deeply human, full of contradictions, which allows Garrone to ask key questions about the hidden sources of human nature.

One of the highlights of the festival will be the Polish premiere of Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman. One of the most important American filmmakers (Do the Right ThingJungle FeverCrooklyn) is back in great form, having won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival. Lee's direction is outstanding in telling the story of an African-American policeman named Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who, in the 1970s, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Lee's stylish film is both hilarious and hard-hitting. It offers not only great entertainment, but also a brilliant, powerful commentary on recent nationalistic and racist events in the United States. The cast includes Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace.

The festival program also includes Lee Chang-dong's Burning, a FIPRESCI winner at Cannes that is based on a story by Haruki Murakami. It also received the highest-ever rating (3.8) in Screen's Cannes jury grid. An incredibly suggestive sense of mystery, gripping tension and an outstanding performance by Ah-in Yoo, whose character slowly burns-digested by internal flames of passion, jealousy and wounded pride-these are just some of the strong points of the sensational film by this South Korean master (Secret SunshinePoetry). He is one of those filmmakers who is able to translate profound, unseen internal processes into the language of images, allowing us to see how violence germinates, what it feeds on and how it grows into a spectacular explosion. This is exactly what Burning is about: a quiet, gentle and intimate film that, at the same time, burns with emotion.

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