Małgorzata Sadowska, selector for the New Horizons International Film Festival, recommends the following films from the festival program.
1. Nobody planned this, but here it is: an unofficial section that, for my own purposes, I like to call “Intimate Diaries.” They were written for you by Carlos Reygadas (Our Time), Abel Ferrara (Tommaso), Alain Cavalier (Living and Knowing You’re Alive), Richard Billingham (Ray & Liz), Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Jim Jarmusch (The Dead Don’t Die) , Catherine Breillat (A Real Young Girl), Pedro Almodóvar (Pain and Glory), Frank Beauvais (Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream), and Kazuo Hara (Extreme Private Eros). They are memories of childhood, diaries of adolescence, and meticulous recordings of the elation of youth, midlife crises, and the demons of old age ... They are very personal and strongly rooted in the filmmakers’ own life stories. That said, this isn’t exhibitionism; rather, it’s about sharing intimate experiences—often filtered through the storyline but always extraordinarily bold.
2. The Olivier Assayas retrospective. Carefully traced from its very beginning (a real rarity that you won’t find on file-sharing sites!), Assayas’s work is also a sort of intimate journal written over decades. It has a bit of everything: youth that has just been doused with a bucket of cold water, futile rebellion (also after May 1968), technological revolution, a new life, when the son turns into the father, and the end of August flowing into the beginning of September... These are not only Assayas’s obsessions but also a chronicle of the most important European events of the past few decades.
3. Do you like ghost stories? Then listen to the bones rattling in the beautiful Lapü and the storm howling in the incredible horror The Lodge. Die with laughter at The Children of the Dead and get entangled in Jinpa’s turnstile of incarnations.
4. The Golden Glove, dir. Fatih Akin
Hmmm … First of all, this is a film that can’t be unseen. Second, it’s like an axe blow. Third, a lot of people think it just plain stinks. Despite this, I highly recommend it to New Horizons’ most adventurous viewers: as Simone Weil rightly put it, “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring.” And Akin is on the side of monotony, gloom, and boredom—on the side of reality. Because in an era of the sexy Ted Bundys, brilliant Hannibal Lecters, and erudite Jacks, the director correctly points out that the real taboo hasn’t been violence for long a long time; it’s just plain ugliness.
5. Bird Talk, dir. Xawery Żuławski
The eponymous “bird talk” is the language used by those excluded from the aggressive majority: a history teacher tormented by children, a teacher of Polish studies fired from his job, a leprous composer, a girl who cleans a banker’s villa, a florist with a club foot, and a student with a fascination for cinema. Pushed to the margins by the extreme right, they defend themselves with irony, songs, and quotes from the classics. After the screening, you’ll continue humming endlessly right along with them “The evil girl / stole my ... .”
6. Tlamess, dir. Ali Eddine-Slim
Stanley Kubrick meets Sergio Leone on vacation in Tunisia—a longer sort of vacation, in a dark forest that is hiding a mysterious monument. None of this makes any sense to you? To me neither, but I was really impressed by the imagination and fantasy that went into creating the bizarre, mysterious world of Tlamess.
7. Anger, dir. Albertina Carri
Seen through Carri’s eyes, this incredibly simple story (a young girl observers her mother’s extramarital affair) takes on the features of Greek tragedy. Fate comes to the Argentine provinces: the little girl is like Cassandra prophesying misfortune in her paintings (and she paints in the style of Neue Wilde). Passion, innocence, betrayal, and silence together form an emotional tornado that will pull you in as well.
Two films by women that are included in the Wet Dreams section. Two rare cases of artists who worked not only at an unfavorable time for them but also in the field of erotic film, although we all know that this isn’t a game for little girls. And above all, these are two expressive, original voices that sound incredibly up-to-date in the #metoo era. Their films discuss sexual maturation (the provocative A Real Young Girl) and feminist rebellion against all the misters, village heads, and vicars of this world (A Very Curious Girl). Politically incorrect, emotionally arousing, sexy and full of humor—these two girls are perfect company for the festival!
9. Solitary long-distance runners will, of course, have their Ironman in the form of Mariano Llinás’s 14-hour The Flower, while those ordered by Satan to dance await an eight-hour marathon in the form of Béla Tarr’s Satan’s Tango. In the case of Lav Diaz’s The Halt, you’ll reach the finish line in under five hours, while Antoine D’Agata’s White Noise is barely a four-hour run (but at night and over extremely difficult terrain). If you still have any strength left, try Olanda—under three hours of mushroom picking in the Carpathians is something that any marathoner would find relaxing.
10. Deerskin, dir. Quentin Dupieux
It happens sometimes in life
that a man with a past
and a jacket that’s seen better days
find a little corner somewhere
and are struck by a little luck.
And that’s exactly what this film is about.