No Dawn.

For Men.
Sunday, February 01, 2004

Work interfered with my updates over the past three days - jury work, you know, screening and discussing the remaining titles in competition, and giving out the FIPRESCI award, and attending the awards ceremony, and partying afterwards.

We gave the award almost unanimously - Hassouna and I did have to convince Niels a bit, but as he was the tallest and the heaviest of us all, he easily relented (you´ll know what I´m talking about once you meet enough Norwegians, and Tunisians) - to the Finnish film Young Gods, a fast-paced, well-written and deeply satisfying drama concerning a group of teenagers who, on a fluke, start videotaping their own sexual encounters with unsuspecting girls. What starts out as a macho power trip soon descends into predictable breakups of relationships, but also much less predictable revelations of the protagonists? various secrets, be they a childhood trauma, a predilection towards kinkiness, or towards niceness - every time I thought I had it figured out, it managed to impress me. This is director Jukka-Pekka Siili´s first feature (and he´s 39 already!) but is as fresh, as vital and as strong as probably anything seen at Sundance. Also, after the awards J-P actually said it was reviled in Finland upon its release as easy soft porn, so I hope this award makes the Finnish critics take a long hard look at it again. I´ll write a longer review for the official FIPRESCI site tonight, so you can probably check it there in a few days.

Internationally, the FIPRESCI award probably carries the most weight. However, the local prises in the same competition went to three other rather good movies, Hip Hip Hora! (English title The Ketchup Effect is there probably because the original means Hip Hip Whore!, and that pun doesn´t translate well) by Teresa Fabik (who is 27 and lovely and who Niels had no chance with after snubbing her for the award), another film on teenage sexuality (did I mention how the Scandinavians are obsessed with that?) that was a huge crowd pleaser but just a tad too obvious for me - I saw it at the gala premiere on Monday and it was. not. subtitled, yet I not only managed to follow it easily, but also totally figured it out 20 minutes in. Still, like most its peers, it?s braver than anything Hollywood makes regarding teenagers, with the probable exception of Thirteen.

The longest and arguably most ambitious film, Four Shades of Brown, was - along with the Icelandic Cold Light and especially the Danish Gemini - also quite pretentious, which didn?t prevent it from winning a Swedish Church award (presented by a bishop who told jokes). (Why is everything suddenly starting to remind me of Monty Python here?) The two introspective documentaries - Gunnar Goes Comfortable and Hiding Behind the Camera, Part 2 (!) (wtf happened with Pt. 1?) - I perceived as feature-length masturbations by wealthy, pampered and not too nice people, but many people disagreed. The documentary on Herge, Tintin and I, was in French but made by a Swede, and was horribly handicapped by white subtitling on white backgrounds, which were usually impossible to read. Also, it preached a whole lot to the converted - and it didn´t make me decide to start reading Tintin, which is something I´ve been planning to do for decades now.

So much for the official competition and the dumping of its backlog.

All in all, I´ve seen 40 movies at the festival, which was my goal; last features I saw were a short by Tsai Ling-Miang called The Skywalk Is Gone, and its companion feature The Missing by Kang-Sheng Lee - both of which are very artsy and slow, but moving as hell. I saw them today, and they fit the somewhat melancholy, yet clear and calm mood of the day perfectly.

Among the docus, I should have to mention Bright Leaves by Ross McElwee, which should be seen by anyone who is Southern and smokes, Checkpoint by Yoav Shamir, which should be seen by anyone who supports both the concept of freedom and Israel, and especially Investigation into the Invisible World by Jean Michel Roux, a mightily impressive and stunningly made docu on the fairies, trolls, elves, mythical creatures and even ETs, all of whom are apparently alive and well in this day and age - on Iceland, where most people seem to have had experience with them. An unmissable movie.

Yet I would have missed it if it wasn´t for a girl I met last night. Her name is ancient and Nordic and means "Shieldmaiden", and she took me to the Elvish movie. And she complained that it was screening #666 at the festival, and nothing bad had occurred. And we talked lots, both last night and today at the cinema. And she is 23 and happily married.

Right, back to work. Got to write that review. And then pack, sleep, and leave the hotel, leave Gothenburg and leave Sweden and come back to Zagreb. Within the next 6 weeks I have to hand in two new books, so you will excuse me if I get a bit lost in translation.


  This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.  

Home  |  Archives