Magdalena Sztorc, a selector for the New Horizons International Film Festival, recommends the following films.
The Rider: the life of a young cowboy named Bradley is filled with passion, including a love of horses and of the rodeo. Following an unfortunate accident, however, he's no longer able to ride horses. From then on, he starts dealing with an internal struggle that will undoubtedly leave you moved. How can you go on living when you can no longer do what you love, the one thing that gives everything else meaning? All of the actors in the film are amateurs. An attentive portrait of a community in South Dakota: people who live off the beaten path but who feel good in their own world.
Milla: a film about seizing opportunities. A pair of outsiders, Milla and Leo, bask in their love for one another. They wander the streets, live in vacant houses and communicate with each other through song lyrics and poems. They don't belong to this world, but it belongs to them. Later in the film, Milla ends up on her own with an infant. Instead of falling apart, however, she moves on to another state of being. Despite the difficulties, she embraces all the experiences that come with motherhood and the presence of a child in her life. She lives fully in the here and now. A very sensual film.
I Am Another You: a documentary recording of the journey of a young Chinese woman to the United States, where she meets a homeless man named Dylan. She is fascinated by his openness to people, his freedom and his easy-going manner. Later, they start traveling together. A colorful social panorama of the country develops right before our eyes. But can we be sure that everything is at it seems? Who is Dylan really? Why did he end up on the streets? To what extent was his life on the outside really his choice?
The Bed: the body can be uncompromising and can dictate the conditions of our lives. It lives according to its own rhythm. The main characters in The Bed have to come to terms with a crossing point that is determined by their bodies. Their passion is ending, their lust burning out. Who do we become in relation to ourselves and our partners when carnality slips into the background, and our shared bed-a place that was full of life for years-loses its meaning? An intimate double portrait.
The Return: knowing the answers to the questions of "who am I?" and "where do I come from?" certainly determines our sense of belonging, roots and harmony. A young Asian woman who was given up for foreign adoption embarks on a journey to her native Korea to find her biological parents. Along the way, she meets Thomas, who has had a similar experience. Together, they try to understand their stories. A humble film at the intersection between documentary and feature. Real, painful and moving.
Holiday: we are all part of the food chain. The bigger and stronger among us devour the weaker, and strength is determined by money. A macho man takes a young girl on an exotic vacation-the condition is her complete obedience. Well, everyone needs to blow off a little steam once in a while. A brutal power game served in candy colors like in The Florida Project.
Touch Me Not: this film, which we have been talking and writing about a lot, has taken on a life of its own. However, I would like to personally tip my hat to the director, Adina Pintille, who has made such a bold and earnest debut. Her treatment of the human body and carnality-which is so often tied up with confusion, embarrassment, a lack of fulfillment-is attentive and multifaceted. She enmeshes the bodies of her protagonists and appears in front of the camera herself.
Shortlist: the films from Shortlist remain somewhat unknown. With all of the acclaimed titles out there, it's difficult for them to get attention. Shortlist consists of three sets of the most interesting Polish short films that are most closely in line with the festival's ideals, including two animations that were shown in Cannes this year, Marta Pajek's III and Marta Magnuska's The Other; Katarzyna Gondek's completely outside-the-mainstream Deer Boy, which was screened at the Sundance Festival; and the top diploma film from the Łódź Film School, Emi Buchwald's Heimat.
Jonaki: a visually refined, poetic film from India. The director makes references to the life of his beloved grandmother, who, although born to a rich Bengali family, was unable to fulfill her plans in life. In the last days of her life, the eponymous protagonist's thoughts return to her youth and her unrequited love. Memories and fantasies in the form of fragmentary images fire the imagination and give us food for thought at the same time.
A Coach's Daughter: last but not least, the tennis ball is out of bounds. A youth manifesto. Wiktoria transforms from a polite, conscientious tennis player into an independent young woman with an interest in the world around her. She wants to try, taste, experience and fulfill her own plans. Going her own way and following her heart is liberating, but it also has its consequences. The director deals with complex issues with a light touch and empathy.