With the question “Why cinema now?” dominating this year’s 50th edition, “Independence Days” offer their own answer, certainly looking to the future, but at the same time also attempting a series of – hopefully – charming anachronisms. On the one hand, the“death” of filmand the digital revolution of cheap, high definition cinema seem to be the message of this year’s main tribute, “Philippines Rising”, comprising a total of 14 titles. Α scathing cinematic movement which became a reality thanks to technology and which we embraced from our very first year. You can find outmore about it in the introduction to the tribute; I would just like to note that we have also planned an open discussionwith the guest filmmakers and a concert featuring The Brockas, a band to which some of them belong (Khavn De La Cruz, Lav Diaz, John Torres). The Brockas will also provide the musical accompaniment to the one and only screening of Khavn’s film, The Muzzled Horse of an Engineer in Search of Mechanical Saddles.
On the other hand, there is “soft porn” filmed in 35mm film which is still screened in this time of download overload... This second tribute, “Pinku eiga: Beyond Pink”is, let’s say, a “celebratory” tribute and intended for the wee small hours; a celebration of an unknown segment of Japanese cinema, which, under its stifling label, was able to fit in much more than just a few soft core sex scenes and, especially, the zaniness and youth of an entire generation of dissent, which left us a vivid heritage, both sensual and subversive.
Our special screenings include the masterpiece, FILM IS. a girl & a gun by the avant-garde auteur Gustav Deutsch – a study on love, death and the essence of cinema, made exclusively out of found footage from the origins of silent movies and divided into five purely Greek chapters: Genesis, Paradise, Eros, Death, Symposium. Using similar materials, Serge Bromberg reconstructs a legendary lost film by Henri- Georges Clouzot in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno.
In the rest of the program, Germany’s Maren Ade is the only personwe feel is “Someone to Watch”; a prominent position for a young filmmaker who, with only two films to her credit – one of which is her diploma film – has produced extraordinary portraits of the thirty something generation. Similar portraits are also offered by the Young Americans, such as newcomer Damien Chazelle in Guy and Madeleine on a Park Bench, a tribute to Jacques Demy’s musicals and one of this year’s most original films, or Andrew Bujalski, whom we discovered here four years ago and who returns with his most mature work to date, Beeswax. The core ID-09 selection is linked to the“Philippines Rising” tribute through three remarkable entries from the same region: the black comedy Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly by Indonesia’s Edwin, the political allegory Between Two Worlds by Vimukthi Jayasundara from Sri Lanka, and the film noir At the End of Daybreak by Malaysia’s Hο Yuhang. Our beloved Latin America also claims a large piece of the pie with four feature debuts: Paraiso, Huacho, Gigante, and Castro from Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina respectively. The claustrophobic Lebanon, which was filmed almost entirely inside a tank and which, when we invited it to the Festival, we never imagined would win the Gold Lion in Venice, is also a debut feature, as are three films by woman directors: the wrenching Can Go Through Skin by Esther Rots, the dark comedy Eamon by Margaret Corkery, and the autobiographical A Brand New Life by Ounie Lecomte.
Alexey Balabanov and his relentless Morphia need no introduction, and neither does Korea’s Bong Joon-Ho with his wonderful film, Mother. But we would like to say a couple of words about Denis Villeneuve, who has not received the attention he deserves in Greece and who, this year, is presenting his film Polytechnique, a devastating chronicle of the massacre at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989.
I would also like to reserve a special place for two films, each of which approach the question of faith froma very different angle: Jessica Hausner’s Lourdes focuses on the “miracle”, while Bruno Dumont’s Hadewijch addresses the limits of our devotion to God – subjects which are in fact linked, strange though it may seem, to Chan-wook Park’s vampire film, Thirst, which, I fear, will be unjustly dismissed as “just another horror movie”. Speaking of the great Chan-wook Park, we would recommend you don’t miss his – as well as Martin Scorsese’s – favourite film, The Housemaid, by Kim Ki-young, restored by the Cinémathèque of Bologna and screened at the Festival. Last but not least, our staple special screening: in the screening of King Vidor’s The Crowd (1928), the American Depression meets the first big recession of the 21st century and the post-sound landscape of Thessaloniki’s The Prefabricated Quartet, who will “read” in their own way a film which, up until now, has only been musically translated through “classical” avenues.
The question“Why cinema now?” which we referred to in the beginning, comes back to the filmgoer himself, if we consider that cinema also means the movie theater. I think you know what we mean...
Artistic Director, “Independence Days”