International Competition

Total: 969 Films out of 99 Countries and Areas

(Alphabetically shown)

A program that began with the very first YIDFF. Feature-length works were sought from around the world, and from the 969 entries emerges a stringent selection of 15 cinematic gems, richly varied and representing the vanguard of world filmmaking.

Pedro Costa (PORTUGAL / dir. In Vanda’s Room, Colossal Youth)
Hasumi Shigehiko (JAPAN / Film critic, Scholar of French literature)
Alanis Obomsawin (CANADA / dir. Kanesatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Waban-Aki: People From Where The Sun Rises)
Kidlat Tahimik (PHILIPPINES / dir. Perfumed Nightmare, Why Is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow?)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (THAILAND / dir. Mysterious Object at Noon, Syndrome and a Century)

PORTUGAL, FRANCE / 2006 / Portuguese / Color, B&W / Video / 105 min
Director: Pierre-Marie Goulet

Mesmerized by the songs of Peroguarda villagers in southern Portugal’s Alentejo region, young contemporary Portuguese poet António Reis, Corsican researcher of Portuguese folk music Michel Giacometti, and film director Paulo Rocha visit the village one after another in the late 1950s. This work refreshes the soul, and flows with songs and poetry seeped in sadness, and the atmosphere of the quiet sea and village, fields adorned with vibrant red flowers and the roads traveled by Reis and the others, while interspersing images from Paulo Rocha’s films.


FENGMING A Chinese Memoir
CHINA / 2007 / Chinese / Color / Video / 183 min
Director: Wang Bing

An elderly woman walks along a snowy road toward her apartment. The name of this woman, dressed in red as she sits on her sofa, is He Fengming. She worked as a reporter for a local newspaper and married, but an article written by her reporter husband got them labeled as counter revolutionaries, and they were sent to separate forced labor camps . . . . This work presents her magnificent story spanning some three decades, from her repeated persecution under the two reformatory campaigns in China from the 1950s through her rehabilitation in 1974. The latest work by director Wang Bing, who won the Grand Prize at YIDFF 2003 for his nine-hour epic Tie Xi Qu: West of Tracks.


I Am the One Who Brings Flowers to Her Grave
SYRIA / 2006 / Arabic / B&W / Video / 110 min
Director: Hala Alabdalla, Ammar Albeik

Unable to return even once to her hometown in Syria since leaving in 1981, Hala begins shooting a film in France with her young friend Ammar, who has a camera. Intimate interviews with friends who remain separated from their homeland as old age approaches, and scenes showing the creative process of her painter husband, now exiled for twenty-five years. The camera, with its frequent hand-held shots and extreme close-ups that seem to reject an objective perspective, glides freely through time and space, revealing the poetry and urge to create poetry in daily life while lamenting the relentless passage of time and giving voice to love for one’s homeland.


Lick Salt—A Grandson’s Tale
CANADA / 2006 / English / Color, B&W / Video / 78 min
Director: Ryan Feldman

Grandmother Cecile is estranged from director Ryan Feldman’s father, who has barred all contact between the two of them. Ryan begins forming a relationship with his grandmother after encountering her for the first time in fifteen years at his grandfather’s funeral. Senility-induced delusions like talking to photographs and preparing meals for those pictured, fear and uncertainty toward death, and the charming spontanaiety of an elderly Jewish woman. Ryan’s anxiety about the future comes to the fore as he repeatedly switches jobs and moves house, all the while up to his neck in trying to cope with his extraordinary grandmother. A personal documentary that depicts the bonds between grandmother and grandson with a humorous touch.


ARGENTINA / 2007 / Spanish / Color, B&W / 35mm / 150 min
Director: Nicolás Prividera

1976, under the Argentine military dictatorship. Marta Sierra disappeared suddenly. Her son, director Nicolas Prividera, was six years old at the time. He gathers together fragments of his lost mother as he questions her partners from the underground movement, related organizations and her colleagues at the time about this mystery. This work is not only a suspense-laden depiction of Marta’s disappearance but also reveals the circumstances in Argentine history where numerous people were killed and erased. The director’s stance of not letting memory fade is moving.


The Monastery
DENMARK / 2006 / Danish, English, Russian / Color / 35mm / 84 min
Director: Pernille Rose Grønkjær

Vig purchased Hesbjerg Castle fifty years ago, aiming to turn it into a monastery. His wishes are fulfilled when the Russian Orthodox Church officially decides to convert the Danish castle into a church and convent. The beautiful Russian nun Sister Amvrosija and others arrive for preparations, and it seems his dream is going to be realized without a hitch . . . But this elderly bachelor, who has gone without falling in love for his eighty-two years, finds himself repeatedly coming into conflict with Sister Amvrosija and her different cultural background and values. The film embraces Vig with tenderness and humor as he gradually opens up, however clumsily.


Mr. Pilipenko and His Submarine
GERMANY / 2006 / Russian, Ukrainian / Color / Video / 90 min
Director: Jan Hinrik Drevs, René Harder

When something is impossible in Ukraine, they say, “That’s like a submarine in the steppe.” Vladimir Pilipenko is a sixty-two-year-old pensioner living in a small Ukrainian village. For thirty years he has dreamed of building a submarine and submerging it in the Black Sea. He pours his heart into building the submarine, using his secretly saved pension to buy old parts and metal. But his passion is ignored by his wife, and ridiculed by people in the village. Undeterred, he heads for the Black Sea 400 km away, loading the submarine on a battered truck and crossing vast expanses of plains. Can Pilipenko really transform the impossible into reality? An adventure documentary in pursuit of manly romance.


Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers
FRANCE / 2006 / Cambodian / Color / Video / 86 min
Director: Rithy Panh

Cambodia, Phnom Penh. The sleeping quarters of prostitutes. They sell their bodies for their families or for money and take abuse from their clients and the madam who employs them, and spend their days haunted by nightmares like HIV infection. This requiem to these dying souls at the bottom of a broken-down society deeply scarred by civil war unfolds with sorrow, and on occasion beauty. The latest work by director Rithy Panh, who continues to confront issues in his homeland Cambodia, and his fourth work in the YIDFF International Competition, more than any other director.


Potosi, the Journey
ISRAEL, FRANCE / 2007 / English, Spanish, Hebrew / Color, B&W / 35mm / 246 min
Director: Ron Havilio

In 1970, Director Ron Havilio and his wife Jacqueline, celebrated their wedding in Buenos Aires, and then headed for the Andes mountains with backpacks and a still camera. Along the way they come across the Bolivian mining town Potosí. Twenty-nine years later they revisit Potosí with their three daughters, tying together the present and past. The hushed Andes landscape, and uplifting music. In contrast, the people living in the severe climate. The family walks slowly and communicates deeply. A road movie depicting a family journey. Long awaited work by Ron Havilio, ten years since his film Fragments Jerusalem won the Grand Prize at YIDFF ’97.


USA / 2006 / English, German / Color / 35mm / 90 min
Director: Jessica Yu

The long wandering journey of life with its tumultuous ups and down, as told by four men with extreme pasts: gay evangelist, German terrorist, kung fu enthusiast, and bank robber. Each has gone to extremes in pursuit of the “truth,” and in due course confronts the outer limits. This work was developed from the worldview of Euripides’ Greek tragedies. Employing a structure that intersperses masked puppets in the role of an ancient Greek chorus, and the work brilliantly evokes the vibrancy of language through the resonance of the four stories that at first glance seem unrelated. The latest work by Jessica Yu, recipient of the 1997 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.


FINLAND / 2006 / Finnish / Color, B&W / 35mm / 80 min
Director: Jouko Aaltonen

Middle-aged men and women singing revolutionary songs. Who exactly are these people, singing shamelessly at schools, libraries, supermarkets and in the streets at night? Numerous music groups were created in the late 1960s, inspired by socialist activism that burned with idealism. Some forty years have gone by, and those once young and beautiful activists have reached the middle age. This Finnish musical documentary film shows them as they sang exultantly back then and the way they sing at their current workplaces, nostalgically and satirically of an era that strove toward a better world. Everyone who watches this film is bound to come out humming these revolutionary hymns.


Since You Left
PALESTINE, ISRAEL / 2006 / Arab, Hebrew, English / Color / Video / 58 min
Director: Mohammad Bakri

The Palestinian-Israeli actor Mohammad Bakri stands before the grave of Palestinian writer and politician Emil Habibi, a close friend who influenced his own work, and speaks about the things that have come to pass in his life. Bakri struggled bitterly as his two nephews were persecuted for their involvement in a terrorist incident, and the screening of his documentary Jenin, Jenin was prohibited in Israel. While reflecting on the words of Habibi, Bakri calls for both Israel and Palestine to face each other and come to grips with their own foolishness.


Tarachime birth/mother
JAPAN / 2006 / Japanese / Color / Video / 39 min
Director: Kawase Naomi

The director raises her voice in anger, blaming her foster mother for threatening to abandon her as a young girl. Her impatience with her foster mother’s senility, and her offectionate gaze on the ageing naked body. The birth of her son. One life grows old and draws closer to death, and another life has been bestowed through birth. This moving work quietly juxtaposes both. Latest documentary work by Kawase Naomi, who recently won the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Film Festival.


12 Tangos: Adios Buenos Aires
GERMANY / 2005 / Spanish / Color / 35mm / 86 min
Director: Arne Birkenstock

The end of the 19th century through the early 20th century. Over six million people emigrate from Europe to South America, and Argentina is born. The 21st century arrives. After the economic devastation of 2002, their descendants traverse the opposite route back to Europe in search of work, relying on their ancestors’ passports. This film powerfully intermingles tango music infused with sadness, despair and love for one’s homeland, together with the lives of two women who have decided to travel to Europe, and an elderly dancer who once graced the world’s stages. The chance to hear tango performed by some of Argentina’s finest musicians is another appeal of this work.


Wild, Wild Beach
RUSSIA, GERMANY / 2006 / Russian / Color / Video / 125 min
Director: Alexander Rastorguev, Vitaly Mansky, Susanna Baranzhieva

The Russian seaside, overflowing with people on summer holiday. People unleashed under the bright sun are dizzy with desire for power, money, and pleasure. A photographer who transports a camel from far away to lure tourists, a middle-aged drunken woman, an elderly rapper, a fatso and lanky two some who are constantly trying to pick up women, and a visit by President Putin. The confusion of contemporary Russia is captured in this lively caricature. Co-directed by Vitaly Mansky, whose Private Chronicles, Monologue was screened at YIDFF 2001.