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Warsaw Film Festival announces competition

Warsaw Film Festival 2008-10-01
The program of the 24th Warsaw International Film Festiwal, scheduled for October 10-19, was announced at the press conference in Multikino Zlote Tarasy.

Special guests of the conference were Małgośka Szumowska ("33 Scenes From Life"), awarded on Gdynia Film Festival as Best Director and Andrzej Jakimowski director of "Trics", the Polish Oscar nominee.

The following films will compete in the Warsaw Competition:

33 Scenes From Life
Poland / Germany 2008, 97 min

Julia is a successful artist, with loving parents and a husband who is a famous composer. Suddenly everything collapses. Sickness and death from a close perspective are different from what Julia expected - much more absurd, nonsensical, and ridiculous. It all starts with the death of the family dog. Then Julia's mother gets sick with cancer. Julia’s husband is of no help, spending most of the time abroad, and her father seems to need help even more than she does. '33 Scenes From Life' is a film about the moment in life when we become adults. It's a story about stepping into the real world, where pain, suffering and doubts are inevitable.

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Still Walking
Japan 2008, 114 min

A family drama about grown children visiting their elderly parents, which unfolds over one summer day. The aging parents have lived in the family home for decades. Their son and daughter return for a rare family reunion, bringing their own families with them. They have gathered to commemorate the tragic death of the eldest son, who drowned in an accident 15 years ago. Although the roomy house is as comforting and unchanging as the mother’s homemade feast, everyone in the family has subtly changed. This is a typical dysfunctional family, bonded by love as well as resentments and secrets. With a subtle balance of gentle humour and wistful sorrow, Kore-eda portrays just how precious and exactly how annoying family can be.

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Berlin Calling
Germany 2008, 109 min

The nocturnal world of the electro scene at 100,000 beats per minute. Berlin underground composer and electro DJ Martin (known under the pseudonym of DJ Ickarus) is on tour with his manager and girlfriend Mathilde. The two of them spend their nights in clubs, and are preparing to release a major electronic music album. However Mathilde finds it increasingly difficult to deal with Martin’s drug addiction. Following an overdose, the DJ is held in a psychiatric ward. While Martin gets to know the other patients and starts to write music again, Mathilde falls into the arms of her former lover, Corinna. The album release remains on hold. Featuring the internationally known hit DJ Paul Kalkbrenner, who also composed the film’s score, in the lead role.

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The Desert Within
Mexico 2008, 110 min

Elías has committed a great sin against God and is convinced his eight children will be punished by premature death. Hoping to prevent the punishment, he dedicates his life to building a church so that God will forgive him. The story is told through the eyes of Elías’s youngest and most vulnerable son Aureliano, who portrays the family saga in religious paintings. Yet it is not God’s vengeance but Elías’s mistakes which change the course of events… The film was inspired by the diaries of the philosopher Sören Kierkegaard, who describes his fear of being condemned to a premature death by his father. The director transferred the story from a Protestant environment to Catholic Mexico and created a film image of irrational religious insanity.

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The Fourth Man
Serbia / Hungary 2007, 90 min

A man awakens from a coma. He remembers nothing. He's told he had a wife and a son. They've been killed. He's told he is a major of the Military Security Agency. He tries to patch together his life but is confronted with emptiness and despair. His only chance of discovering his identity and punishing the assassins is to accept the game set up for him with the Businessman, the Mafioso, and the Politician. Director’s statement: “The moral fairytale takes place in a small world, under the shadow of smouldering traces of war and of flawed politics without a trace of morality. Transitional Serbia with its war traumas, secret services, unresolved crimes, moral stumbling, secrets, misconceptions and conspiracies ... is an ideal stage for a tale about past times, identity, friendship. And redemption”.

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Heart of Fire
Germany / Austria 2008, 92 min

It is 1980, the Eritrean struggle for independence. Ten-year-old Awet has the heart of a warrior. Abandoned as a baby, she grows up in the sheltered atmosphere of a Christian monastery in Asmara. But when she returns to her family, her father brings her to a military battle unit. There is nothing she can do to elude her fate as a child soldier, but she vows to oppose this ignoble war with all her strength, and to fight against the fate that menaces her. A poignant story illustrating the absurdity of using child soldiers in any military conflict. Made in the Eritrean language Tirgrinya, the film was inspired by the novel of the same title by Senait G Mehari.

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Katia's Sister
Netherlands 2008, 85 min

A thirteen-year-old girl lives in Amsterdam with her hard-drinking mother, a Russian immigrant, and her elder sister Katia. Seventeen, Katia is a very beautiful young woman, sensual and brimming with energy. She fascinates her younger sister to the point where the younger girl’s identity is built around her sister. She always introduces herself as ‘Katia’s sister’ and every night sleeps cuddled up to her. She lives in an extremely brutal environment - her mother is a prostitute, while Katia becomes a stripper and starts taking drugs. Despite this, the girl remains very innocent and naive. Neglected by those around her, she spends her free time tidying the family flat and watching animal documentaries. However, she mainly wanders the streets, indulging her favourite pastime: people-watching. Director’s statement: “You cannot help loving Katia’s sister, however harsh and violent the world around her seems. She lives in her own world, she's the ‘rose growing in the garbage’ and finally nobody can help but love her. By taking Katia's sister’s hand, I could talk about the things that really matter: loneliness, anxiety, love”.

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Love and Other Crimes
Serbia / Germany / Austria / Slovenia 2007, 106 min

Thirty-something Anica feels restless in her dead-end life with an older man and small-time mobster in Belgrade. Milutin’s caring affection for her isn’t enough; Anica longs for true love. She has secretly decided to finally leave the country for good and start anew. Tonight she’ll empty Milutin’s safe of protection money and leave everything and everyone behind. The day that she chooses to carry out her plan is a day of farewells, but also many surprises. Milutin’s young cut-throat Stanislav has finally decided to profess his love for her… What happens when you fall in love the day you wanted to leave everything behind?, asks the director in this film which mixes elements of criminal and romantic drama in an air of magic realism.

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Black Sea
Italy / Romania / France 2008, 95 min

Angela, a young Romanian, leaves her husband and her country to go to Italy to earn some money. She looks after Gemma, an invalid widow. Querulous and quick-tempered, she finds Angela’s presence difficult to deal with. She is forced to accept assistance, as the only other option is an old people’s home. Despite the widow’s difficult personality, Angela manages to remain calm and sweet-tempered. The women finally discover they have several things in common. Director’s statement: “Gemma is my grandmother and Angela was her home help. It is to them that I owe the soul and the characters of this story. My grandmother is dead now, but almost every day, in the street or in the park, I come across an elderly person accompanied by a foreigner: stories of forced cohabitations, mutual dependence, but also of solidarity and friendship”.

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No One's Son
Croatia / Slovenia 2008, 100 min

Ivan is 36 and used to be a rock singer. Today he is a disabled ex-serviceman who lost both legs in the Croatian War of Independence. While Ivan comes to terms with his destroyed marriage and an uncertain future, his father Izidor is running in the parliamentary election. As a former political prisoner Izidor is counting on victory. However, his campaign is shaken by the arrival of the Serbian refugee Simo who arrested him in the past regime. Blackmailing Izidor with a secret from the past, Simo starts influencing Ivan as well.

Red
USA / Norway 2008, 93 min

Small-town America. Meet Avery Ludlow, an older gentleman who lives alone with his memories in a simple existence posing no threat to anyone. One day he is out fishing with his dog. Red is 14 years old and his master’s closest and only friend. Three teenagers kill Red for no good reason. A dramatic revenge story about an old man in search of justice. Told in a refined and calculating way, the story allows events to stack up, keeping you both intrigued and questioning each character’s actions and motives. Based on a novel by the cult horror scribe Jack Ketchum.

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The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner
Bulgaria / Germany / Slovenia / Hungary 2008, 119 min

Bulgaria, 1980. Clouds are gathering over Alex's serene childhood in the idyllic socialist society of a provincial town. His father, Vasko, gets himself into trouble with the regime. The militia want him to spy on Alex's grandfather, the undisputed king of the dice. Bai Dan, who plays backgammon in a nearby café, has been telling too many biting political jokes. Vasko refuses. He, his wife, and the young Alex emigrate to Germany. However, the family breaks up there. Germany, 2006. Alex and his parents are on their way to Bulgaria… “Touted as the biggest Bulgarian co-production since the fall of communism, this is a sweet, intergenerational drama that encompasses over 30 years of social and identity crises, bringing inner and outer journeys to converge somewhere beyond the realm of believability”. Variety

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The Visitor
USA 2007, 103 min

Walter Vale, an economics professor living in the suburbs of New York, has withdrawn from life since his wife died. When he goes home to his seldom-used apartment in the city, he finds a couple living there illegally - Tarek, a young Syrian man, and his lover, Zainab, from Senegal. Seeing that the couple have nowhere else to go, Walter invites them to stay until they sort something out. A friendship blossoms. When he decides to assume responsibility for his new friends, Walter begins a journey back toward revival. A beautifully poised and flawlessly acted paean to hope in our ever-darkening age. Richard Jenkins is brilliant as the professor. This is a great character study as well as a metaphor for standoffish, frightened America.

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Yuri's Day
Russia / Germany 2008, 135 min

Lyuba, a beautiful, sophisticated opera singer, takes a few days off to visit her home town Yuriev with her son. She left Russia several years before to pursue her international career. Her son, who follows her around the world, reproaches her for not showing enough interest in him. When they arrive in Yuriev, it proves to be a quite inhospitable place, where time seems to have stopped several decades ago. Suddenly Lyuba’s son disappears… Director’s statement: “On the one hand, this is a story about a relationship between a mother and a son. It’s a story about a strong woman who, placed in an unexpected situation, tries to break through the thick wall of her own egotism. It’s a story of a woman who is being re-born as a mother. It’s also the story of Russia losing its identity, then finding it again”.

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