Film portraits of youth at the 19th New Horizons International Film Festival
One of the first screenings anywhere in the world of Xavier Dolan’s latest film, Matthias & Maxime; Joanna Hogg’s award winner at Sundance, The Souvenir; the closing film from Rotterdam, Brian Welsh’s Beats (third place in the audience ranking); the hit Mid90s, American star Jonah Hill’s directorial debut; and Young Ahmed, the acclaimed film by the Dardenne brothers and winner of the best director award at Cannes—these five portraits of youth will be presented at the 19th New Horizons International Film Festival in Wrocław.
Xavier Dolan returns with the beautiful love story of Matthias and Maxime, which premiered at the Cannes Festival. The eponymous protagonists have been friends since childhood. Matt has a serious job and a serious relationship, while Max (played by the director himself) decides to leave and start all over again, leaving behind his toxic relationship with his mother. Matt and Max kiss for a film their friend is making for school—and their lives are never the same. Dolan paints a very intense picture of contemporary thirtysomethings. His work is emotional and expressive, yet lyrical and atmospheric at the same time. This is a moving film about the kind of simple—but in fact really complicated—human choices that ruthlessly rule our lives.
Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir won the international competition at the Sundance Festival and received rave reviews at the Berlinale. It’s a stylish, subtle, beautifully filmed portrait of toxic love. Honor Swinton Byrne, the daughter of Tilda Swinton (this time in a supporting role), plays 20-year-old Julia, a woman seduced by an older man. She is unable to free herself from the charm of the elegant and intelligent Anthony. James Ivory meets Derek Jarman; stylish melodrama meets sophisticated film impression. This is one of the most delightful and ambiguous films of the year.
The great Dardenne brothers (The Child, Rosetta, The Son), two-time winners of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, returned from Côte d’Azur this time with a prestigious best director award. Their Young Ahmed delighted the jury with its uncompromising and humanistic message. It tells the story of a talented, seemingly ordinary teenager who is seduced by an orthodox version of Islam. He believes so strongly that he won’t permit even the slightest deviation from religious dogma. Will he be able to turn back from the path he has chosen? With their observing, non-intrusive camera, the Dardennes give us a raw portrait of youth, searching, naïve, poisoned by adults. A powerful film that asks uncomfortable questions that need to be considered now more than ever.
If you liked Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and Justin Kerrigan’s Human Traffic, you have to see Brian Welsh’s electrifying, nostalgic Beats. Jam-packed with great music, it won the hearts of audiences at the Rotterdam Festival. Johnno and Spanner are outsiders who have had enough of their uptight parents, annoying siblings and police raids that shut down the best raves. But a revolution is in the air. Beats is a black-and-white (except for one phenomenal psychedelic scene) manifesto to freedom and friendship deeply immersed in the strange era of the 1990s, which we loved and hated at the same time.
Jonah Hill as a director? The star of The Wolf of Wall Street and Moneyball also takes us back to the far-off 1990s, to a time when Larry Clark’s Kids reigned (and shocked) us, while Richard Linklater was recalling his youth in Dazed and Confused. And no, this isn’t a comedy. Hill aims for authenticity: his Mid90s, which debuted in Toronto and got a standing ovation in Berlin, is an intense coming-of-age story, a moving portrait of teenage loneliness, exploration, initiation, curiosity and disappointments—with an extraordinary soundtrack that you’ll have a chance to hear more than once at the New Horizons Festival Club.