2001-06-13 | International Competition Selection

Introducing International Competition Selection

Angelos’ Film

Dir: Péter Forgács
2000 / THE NETHERLANDS / Video / Color, BW / 60 min / English

The story of this one family is also the story of Greece. Born into a family of peers, Angelos became a stockbroker after leaving the Navy, then found success as a factory owner, and in the late thirties became an alderman of Athens. Using Angelos’s home movies, this film depicts the dark shadow cast by the Nazi invasion on his idyllic family life with his wife and children. The Nazi flag is raised over the Acropolis, and ultimately many of the people of Athens lose their lives. Angelos believes he must record all of this horror, and sets about using all his resources to secretly acquire a stock of film. There are many tragic sights. People are hung cruelly by the roadside. Film often becomes a witness to history—this is testimony to that.



Dir: Mori Tatsuya
2001 / JAPAN / Video / Color / 130 min / Japanese

October, 1999. Mori Tatsuya picks up a camera for the first time in almost 2 years since the completion of filming his investigation into the Aum Supreme Truth phenomenon, A. In that time, Aum has established centers in many parts of Japan, and continued its activities. The world described in this work bears little resemblance to the one recognized by most Japanese. Aum believers, and the residents of the areas that they have moved to, as well as the police, right wing nationalists, the mass media... and the bizarre shared space that they build between each other. A momentary peace. The viewer will be unable to conceal their astonishment at the truths that spring forth one after another from the mouths of these strangely connected individuals. We become witness to yet another side of Japanese society, where television continues to ram home the equation: Aum = the enemy of the people.


Buenaventura Durruti, anarchiste

Dir: Jean-Louis Comolli
1999 / SPAIN, FRANCE / 35mm / Color / 107 min / Spanish, Catalan, French

Born in 1896, commander of an anarchist brigade during the Spanish revolution, killed during the battle of Madrid in 1936—revolutionary Buenaventura Durruti. His life story is reenacted through the songs of street musicians and the performances of stage actors, spliced with images from the news of his time. In an ordinary-looking room free of dramatic contrivances and with few props to conjure up a sense of the period, a brand of theater that is neither rehearsal nor live performance begins to unfold. In spite of this, the viewer becomes captivated by the rich performances and wonderful singing. Inside this film the drama takes shape, and in short time the drama itself begins to take on a life of its own. A glorious exploration of the life of Durruti.



Dir: Heddy Honigmann
1999 / THE NETHERLANDS / 35mm / Color / 97 min / Dutch

Dutch UN soldiers revisit the battlefields burnt into their memory. Starting with the first UN mission to the Korean peninsula in 1950, and on to Lebanon, Cambodia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia, the remembrances of these men who have returned to everyday life are inextricably linked to one special song that brought them solace far from home. Director Honigmann experiments with a tenacious interview style to expose the scars the soldiers bear deep inside. Images recreate palpably the tension of the battlefields. From Arirang to Puccini, to Presley and U2, the power of the music intertwines with the memories of wartime to guide us through our crazy world.


Days in Those Mountains

Dir: Wan Haibing
2000 / CHINA / Video / Color / 162 min / Chinese

In a remote village deep in the Dabu mountains of China’s Sichuan province lives Deng and his family. Deng is the grandson of the model for Luo Zhongli’s famous oil painting, “Father.” From 1968 to 1999, Luo visited this village to meet Deng and his friends there, and he is welcomed by the whole village. Strongly evocative of the art of Luo, this film gently depicts the daily life of the villagers, set against the backdrop of the transition of the four seasons. Scenes of roadworks undertaken with the help of the whole village, and a traditional marriage ceremony. The innocent, smiling faces of the local children radiate a suffused warmth throughout the entire film. 2 hours and 42 minutes flow peacefully by in this mountain idyll, far from the hustle and bustle of the city.


La Devinière

Dir: Benoit Dervaux
2000 / BELGIUM / 35mm / Color / 90 min / French

In 1976, psychiatric treatment center La Devinière opened its doors to 19 children who had been diagnosed as incurable by local hospitals. To accept them was an act seemingly beyond the limits of psychiatric medicine. La Devinière freed them from bars, restraints and medicine, and succeeded in restoring to them the dignity deserved by any human being. Over twenty years pass, and once more the camera is brought to bear on their daily lives, this time as adults. We feel Jean’s anxiety as he is reunited with his mother for the first time in many years, and meet founder Michel who caringly watches over his charges. Here is a place where life can be enriched, where all is free.


Gaea Girls

Dir: Kim Longinotto, Jano Williams
2000 / UNITED KINGDOM / 35mm / Color / 106 min / Japanese

Irresistibly drawn by the charisma of female pro-wrestler Nagayo Chigusa, Takeuchi Sayaka knocks on the door of wrestling organization GAEA JAPAN. The lives of these women are far removed from other teenage girls. A spartan daily routine, harsh training, strict senior/junior relations. Some don’t make it, but others with dreams of glory in the square ring endure the strenuous regimen. This film swirls with the anxiety and excitement of newcomer Takeuchi Sayaka as she battles desperately to progress from pro-test to professional debut. British directors Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams bring us their latest superb work, which could be described as the culmination of their series of films focusing on Japanese women.


Grandma’s Hairpin

Dir: Hsiao Chu-Chen
2000 / TAIWAN / 16mm / Color / 90 min / Chinese

Director Hsiao Chu-chen points her camera at her father, a retired soldier. This is the record of a daughter becoming closer to her father. In 1949, the Nationalist government and 600,000 soldiers retreated from mainland China to Taiwan. Hsiao’s father, who was in his twenties at the time, believed as many of his compatriots did that they would soon return to China with the Nationalist government. But in actuality, it would be another 40 years before relations across the straits were re-established. A time when it was impossible to return to their homeland, and futile to long for it. Hsiao uses an ornamental hairpin that belonged to her grandmother left behind on the mainland as the key to her father’s world, bringing forth his feelings towards the China of that era and the profound remembrances of other retired soldiers with warm nostalgia.


In Vanda’s Room

Dir: Pedro Costa
2000 / PORTUGAL, GERMANY, SWITZERLAND / 35mm / Color / 180 min /Portuguese

In 1997, director Pedro Costa made a feature film called Ossos which depicted the fate of one family. Later he returned to its location, an immigrant district of Lisbon, and took on this work which could be described as a sequel to that film. A camera crew follow one of the stars of Ossos, Vanda Duarte, over the course of one year. A tiny room measuring only three meters in all directions, the events that reoccur daily there, visits from friends and relatives, days drowning in the thrall of drugs. We sit transfixed by the bleakness of Vanda's one bed apartment, and the gradual destruction of the surrounding buildings. What this film portrays is “life,” nothing more and nothing less. A dense and overwhelming 180 minutes.


The Land of the Wandering Souls

Dir: Rithy Panh
2000 / FRANCE / Video / Color / 98 min / Cambodian

In 1999, the works for the laying of the first fibre-optic cable in South-East Asia are crossing Cambodia from the Thai border to the outskirts of Vietnam. This cable is to connect with another from Europe that runs along the Silk Road. The project creates employment opportunities for many Cambodians, but as the construction advances across Asia, many in its path including farmers who have lost their land, demobilized soldiers, and poor families are forced to lead a nomadic lifestyle. Cambodian director Rithy Panh shows the breathtaking hardship of these people who embody and exemplify the many contradictions that must be overcome in order to resuscitate their country. Will the day come when the hopes of these families are realized?


Mysterious Object at Noon

Dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
2000 / THAILAND / 35mm / BW / 83 min / Thai

Those who see this film will feel an irresistible urge to turn to the person next to them and inquire about what they have just witnessed. Inscrutable, but charming, a film such as this that makes one fully realize the futility of dividing feature film and documentary into separate genres is rare indeed. The filmmaker travels across Thailand, and asks the people they encounter about a certain story. On screen the locals come to the microphone, telling interlaced stories about a “mysterious object.” This tale continues to mutate with the appearance of each narrator. It moves to a conclusion that not even the filmmaker could have envisioned. A novel story-telling style, bewitching black and white images—the arrival of this Asian film and its unique and suspenseful new century sensibility is something to truly be celebrated.


Paragraph 175

Dir: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
1999 / U.S.A. / 35mm / Color / 81 min / English, German

That the Nazi’s campaign of persecution touched not only the Jewish, but also homosexuals is hardly known at all. Until now, the voices of those affected had largely gone unheard. This film has succeeded in unearthing this long-hidden history, by telling the stories of homosexuals who had felt first-hand the tyranny of German criminal law’s “Paragraph 175.” Heinz speaks about his time in concentration camps, Frenchman Pierre witnesses the slaughter of his boyfriend, and Jewish Gad recalls his experiences as the leader of an underground resistance movement. Sometimes overcome with pain, sometimes brimming with humor and irony, they have all emerged from their ordeals with a steadfast will to live. Even so, the prejudice they experienced remains to this day. This is not a tale of the past.


Private Chronicles. Monologue

Dir: Vitalij Manskij
1999 / RUSSIA / 35mm / Color, BW / 91 min / Russian

Grappling with many thousands of meters of private film, director Vitalij Manskij has emerged with this chronicle of a generation of Russian youth. 1961 to 1986—a period beginning with Yurii Gagarin’s adventure in space and ending directly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Days as an infant cradled in the arms of a young couple, childhood, parents’ divorce, memories of going swimming with mother, fights with friends, and the excitement of a first kiss. Scenes of youth familiar to us all, spelt out for us by narration from the filmmaker himself. A chance to enter the everyday life of an extremely average middle-class family in the communist Soviet Union.


6 Easy Pieces

Dir: Jon Jost
2001 / ITALY / Video / Color / 68 min / Italian, English

Most documentary films send a message to their audience. However, there is nothing in this film resembling such a message. What exists is simply “image” and “expression.” A child upon a pebble road, a woman firing a gun, a dancing woman—no individual meaning is to be found. A deluge of evening lights reflected by a speeding car, the geometric beauty of a row of posts, light dancing on the surface of water—these merely appear before the viewer. This work, comprised of six episodes, is made on digital video, a greatly differing medium of expression from film. This is a film that chooses its audience. However, within there is a space filled with the potential for the imagination to dart about infinitely. The viewer must approach this film with the utmost caution.


Southern Comfort

Dir: Kate Davis
2000 / U.S.A. / 35mm / Color / 90 min / English

With the remote countryside of Georgia state in the American south as the backdrop, we are offered a glimpse into the life of Robert Eads: born as a female, married and raised two sons, then chose to live the rest of his life as a man. We also meet Lola, born as a male and now living as a woman. Overcoming prejudice, the two fell in love. Robert contracts ovarian cancer (20 doctors refused him medical treatment), while Lola remains by his side and prays for his recovery. This is a world filled with contradictions, but it is said that there are also many people in Japan who question their own sexual identity. This film watches silently as our two subjects attempt to live their lives, emphasizing the reality of the society that surrounds them.