If a picture paints a thousand words, I believe that this year’s “Independence Days” poster could easily stand in for the 600+ words that will follow. But “visual arts works” are not allowed in the catalogue... Having successfully reached our third year, we picture this year’s program in terms of a fanzine, a special annual edition. Our selection shows a lot about how “Independence Days” works. “I.D.” loves the philosophy of “do-it-yourself” (DIY), which is coming into fashion again. In fact, we believe it never went out of fashion, since we don’t know of a better way to get things done.
That was the way, thirty years ago, that the great John Sayles, together with a bunch of friends and very little money, made the legendary Return of the Secaucus 7. In our own “Young Americans”, we encounter a new generation of filmmakers, such as Joe Swanberg or Craig Zobel, who grew up at the tail end of the great narratives, but have preserved intact the spirit of independence, by telling their own small stories. Filmmakers, like Ry Russo-Young, who is participating in the official competition, or our old acquaintances,Andrew Bujalski and Mark and Jay Duplass, belong to a big group of friends, as you will see if you read the credits of their films.
A similar group of friends is making history in Malaysia, where the digital medium has brought to the fore a new generation of film directors who are sweeping the international festival awards. Last year, we introduced you Yuhang Ho; this year you will meet the extraordinary Yasmin Ahmad, through the screening of her complete works, as well as the very young Tan Chui Mui, who triumphed at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival.The other region that tormented us – in a nice way – this year is none other than Argentina.There were 7 or 8 exceptional films that were crying out for a tribute, but there was no space available. It’s only right, therefore, that this year’s “Someone to Watch” section is dedicated to the new voices of Argentinian cinema, with the inclusion of three films that couldn’t be more different. From the hilarious Stars (Estrellas), which Christopher Guest would probably like to have made, and the realistically observant The Mugger (El Asaltante), to the finely crafted female portrait of Encarnacion.
The moment was also right this year for us to present a retrospective of the work by Lee Chang-dong, an old friend of the Festival’s from the time of Green Fish, his directorial attempt back in 1997. The incredible Secret Sunshine finds him at the height of his career, while at the same time it marks a turn towards an even more minimalist écriture. By the same token,we believe that the time is ripe for the presentation of the work of the unknown Mikio Naruse, who is finally beginning to timidly reappear, through the reissuing of some of his masterpieces.
After all that, it is obvious that Asia and Latin America are hogging the limelight in this 3rd edition of “Independence Days”, and the same goes for our choice of eighteen films for ID-07, over half of which are films by newcomers. Allow me at this point to draw your attention to the return to Thessaloniki of Brillante Mendoza, whom you met two years ago with The Masseur, and who has evolved into a first class filmmaker, as you will see for yourselves when you watch Foster Child; as well as to this year’s biggest surprise, The Secret of the Grain by Abdellatif Kechiche. As for our Special Screenings, they’re more like concert evenings, with titles such as Lou Reed’s Berlin and Grant Gee’s brand new documentary Joy Division.This section also includes our attempt to present, for the first time to the Greek public, an unknown pioneer of DIY cinema. Which brings us back to the beginning of this piece. Amos Po has been around for 30 years, from his debut The Blank Generation, a handmade (it was shot in Super 8 and the sound was added later, not always in sync with the picture) tribute to the New York No Wave, to his three-hour-long Empire II (a reference to Andy Warhol’s Empire) which is being screened separately. Empire II is not exactly a film, but rather an audiovisual poem dedicated to New York, starring the Empire State Building. It is accompanied by unpublished poems by Patti Smith, lyrics by Jim Carroll and lots of songs, and we must admit that, in many different ways, it was a wonderful source of inspiration for this year’s “Independence Days”.