FESTIVALS: Artfilm fest opens in Slovakia

By FNE Staff

    The 18th edition of Artfilm festival (www.artfilmfest.sk) opened in Trencianske Teplice, Slovakia, June 18 with a new focus on Slovak films and 14 films in the main competition.

    Audiences can't overlook the picture Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, d. F. Serban, www.stradafilm.ro), a product of the Romanian New Wave, distinguished by its powerful authenticity due in a large part to its amateur performers. It tells the story of a young inmate at a correctional facility, who cannot come to terms with a decision his mother has made. At this year's Berlinale the film won the Silver Bear Jury Grand Prix and the Alfred Bauer Award for Best European Film. At Art Film Fest, the picture will be personally presented by its starring performer, George Pistereanu.

    The Dutch-Irish co-production Nothing Personal (d. U. Antoniak) is a deeply sensitive exploration of human solitude and the need for intimate contact, receiving six awards at Locarno, including the FIPRESCI Prize, the award for Best First Film and the best actress award for the performance of Lotte Verbeek, who will pay a visit to this year's Art Film Fest.

    The festival will also present one of the best films from this year's Berlinale, the Russian picture Kak ja provel etim letom (How I Ended This Summer, d. A. Popogrebskij). Set on an island off of the arctic Chukotka peninsula, completely cut off from civilization, this is the chilling tale of two meteorologists who are forced to confront a complex inner drama. At the Berlinale both actors were bestowed the Silver Bear for Best Actor, and the cinematographer garnered a Silver Bear for outstanding artistic achievement.

    Hailed as the best debut from this year's Berlinale, the Swedish film Sebbe (d. B. Najafi) suggestively captures the complex relationship between an adolescent boy and his mother, who drowns her grief over her deceased husband in alcohol. Both stars deliver outstanding performances, and the film will be personally introduced at Art Film Fest by the performer of the mother, Eva Melander..

    The Argentinean film El hombre de al lado (The Man Next Door, d. M. Cohn, G. Duprat) begins completely innocuously with a new window and a new nonconformist neighbour. Modern architecture plays a major role in the film, and it stands out with its brilliant visuals, recognized at this year's Sundance festival with the Cinematography Award. At our festival the film will be personally introduced by the film's star Rafael Spregelburd and its producer Fernando Sokolowicz.

    The harsh social drama Winter's Bone (d. D. Granik) focuses on a seventeen-year-old girl who takes care of her sickly mother and younger siblings, searching for her missing father, who put their house up for bail. The American picture won the Grand Jury Prize and the Screenwriting Award at this year's Sundance, as well as the C.I.C.A.E. Award from the Berlinale's Forum section.

    The competition will also feature the Israeli-French film Lebanon, depicting the insane circumstances of several soldiers stranded deep behind enemy lines during the First Lebanese War. The film will be personally introduced by its director Samuel Maoz, who experienced this hellish war first-hand as a twenty-year-old. The picture won the Venice FF's Golden Lion and Signis Award - Honorable Mention, along with the Israeli Film Academy's awards for Best Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound and Supporting Actor.

    The winner of Art Film Fest's competition will receive the prestigious Blue Angel Award along with a monetary prize of fifteen thousand euros.