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Film Festival 2013: Last Day and My “Winners”

International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg 2013

10 days, 35 films, a fascinating atmosphere, many inspiring talks and encounters, new perspectives, discoveries and captivating images. This was the 2013 international film festival Mannheim-Heidelberg to me. But most of all it was the stage for incredibly touching and thought-provoking stories.

Film Talk, International Fil, Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg 2013

Film Talk, International Fil, Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg 2013


This year’s films did justice to the festival motto, “Everyone a story” taking all of us in the audience to a magically real journey through the enchating art of good film storytelling. I truly enjoyed experiencing each and every film – the different angle they all presented the world from and the thought-provoking perpectives and questions they invited us to ponder on.
However, there were films that resonated with me and moved me more than others. Perhaps because their narratives were more relevant to my own story or the way they were told was so fascinating that it made me think and see the world with different eyes. But whatever the reason was, I am happy and thankful that I had the chance to experience them and I can highly recommend them. Here they are, my ‘winners’:

Tangerines

“Tangerines” turned out to be much more than I expected. It started and ended with the question “Who are you?” with a violent journey of searching inbetween. The director Zaza Urushadze from Georgia presented it as “a film about war in which war is not shown”. Well, war is shown in its cruelty and pointlessness, but it’s not only a war film. It’s a universal story about the essence of being human – about understanding, empathy, forgiving, change beyond ethnicity, religion, culture. In my eyes, it was one of the most touching film stories I have experienced lately and definitely belongs to the must-see films from this festival. Watch it when you have the chance to, I guarantee it will move you with its human and subtle, yet clear and touching storytelling.

Tangerines

Brasserie Romantiek

I guarantee this story will go under your skin in no time and make you smile and thoughtful… perhaps even at the same time. But there is something bigger beyond the emotions it evokes. It’s the potential to bring about change for the better – in thinking, attitude, midset… in us.

Bending the Rules

A group of young dreamers is working hard on achieving a milestone – a theater performance abroad. Admittedly, it’s much more than just a performance and throughout the film turn into a life-changing experience for many of them. All that in incredibly long and wonderfully shot scenes, almost no interruptions and cuts… it almost feels like sitting in a theater… a theater of dreamers. Will they choose to remain true to a friend or to achieve their goal? One of the most amazing films this year.

Bending the Rules

Home

What excites me most about the festival is the variety of touching film stories – stories that have the power to make us (re-)think and (re-)consider. Stories like “Home” where four very different people let us discover a world of honesty, memories, searching… and finding. We all have been confronted with some, perhaps even many, aspects of their journey and it’s eye-opening and moving to be a part of it. It feels so familiar and all four of them are so wonderfully ‘human’ and unique that by the end of the film you almost feel like sharing a cup of coffee or tea with them. The cup of coffee or tea that was accompanying and connecting them throughout the film. And while you imagine how you drink a coffee with them you start thinking about your own search for honesty, happiness, for the place you belong to and probably without noticing it you even start seeing it differently…

Before Snowfall

The ‘invisible’ and tragical journey across cultures through and beyond violent expectations – an intricate web of what is at the core of us, human beings. We all need to be reminded of it.

Image courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg

Image courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg


And now I am off to enjoy the last festival evening for this year. And to look forward to next year’s edition. What would life be without good storytelling and the magical world of cinema!

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Film Festival 2013 Day 7: “What’s Wrong with You?” *

A day-trip of heart-breaking hopelessness (The Retrieval), surprising black humor (Pelmeni), almost scandalous (hi)story (Sex, Drugs and Taxation) and an important chronicle (Drapchi – The Nightingale of Tibet) left me wondering what’s wrong with us, people, what’s wrong with humankind.

Drapchi - The Nightingale of Tibet Poster

While all these films are worth watching for one reason or another and will surely provoke different reactions, “Drapchi-The Nightingale of Tibet” seems to me of universal importance. In a personalized, visually and emotionally captivating manner, it conveys a message (or rather a set of messages) we all need to hear and be aware of. I, personally, wished Yiga’s voice, with its compelling beauty and strenght, would have been even more present throughout the narrative – her voice was to me the strongest means of telling the story. As much the film is personalized and specific, it unfolds a story much bigger than its main character, much significant than any of us. A film well deserving its place as a special screening at the International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg and as a special screening for everyone of us.

* from the film The Retrieval

Film Festival 2013 Day 6: Who are you?

We all have come across the fundamental question of who we actually are. Sometimes asked by others, sometimes raised by ourselves.
Yesterday I experienced two good film stories which among other very important themes deal with the subject of identity and self-awareness: “Class Enemy” and “Tangerines”.

“Class Enemy” seems like a well-known story of classroom rebellion, but it’s not. Far away from bias and clichés, it portrays accurately many different points of view in today’s education system and values without giving pre-defined answers. Awkward and challenging at times, it raises important questions around the roles of students and teachers, and other educational aspects. A thought-provoking film worth watching.

Class Enemy Film

“Tangerines” turned out to be much more than I expected. It started and ended with the question “Who are you?” with a violent journey of searching inbetween. The director Zaza Urushadze from Georgia presented it as “a film about war in which war is not shown”. Well, war is shown in its cruelty and pointlessness, but it’s not only a war film. It’s a universal story about the essence of being human – about understanding, empathy, forgiving, change beyond ethnicity, religion, culture. In my eyes, it was one of the most touching film stories I have experienced lately and definitely belongs to the must-see films from this festival. Watch it when you have the chance to, I guarantee it will move you with its human and subtle, yet clear and touching storytelling.

Tangerines

Film Festival 2013 Day 4: Fortune favors the bold… or does it?

Another exciting film festival day went by. For me, it started off with an almost overwhelming depiction of Alexander the Great‘s life (Alexander), went on to a cozy restaurant in Belgium (Brasserie Romantiek), stopped by a puzzled ordinary man who won the lottery (Millions), spend 90 minutes in a nearly abandoned little town (Blackbird) and ended with two striking characters (Max and Bobo).

Alexander the Great firmly believed that fortune favors the bold… If it does, to which extent? And what does boldness really mean and imply? Is it to persist at any cost and follow your dreams no matter how self-destructive they become? Is it to finally take the plunge in a new phase of life leaving all disappointments, but also loved ones, behind?

My personal favorites (and clear recommendations) are Brasserie Romantiek and Max and Bobo. I guarantee they will go under your skin in no time and make you laugh and cry… perhaps even at the same time. But there is something bigger beyond the emotions they evoke. It’s their potential to bring about change for the better – in thinking, attitude, midset… in us.

Photo courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg

Photo courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg

Picture courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg

Picture courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg

Film Festival 2013 Day 3: Invisible Journeys

The invisibles… The feelings that make us act in a certain way. Can anyone explain them?

How do we make choices? What are they based upon – values, culture, social conventions, expectations, encounters or something as irrational as empathy or even love? You won’t find answers in these two films, but they will take you on a journey to what eyes don’t see, capture your attention to the point where you start thinking and feeling for and with the travelers. At the end of the day, you will probably see the invisible across cultures and beyond violent expectations – an intricate web of what is at the core of us, human beings. We all need to be reminded of it.

The Invisible Collection

Image courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg

Image courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg


Before Snowfall

Image courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg

Image courtesy International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg


Film Festival 2013 Day 2: “You Are a Dreamer, Aren’t You?”*

My second festival day was full of dreamers. Some fighting to make their dreams come true at any cost, others almost forgotten what dreaming was all about. But they all had something in common – the authentic, human endeavor to cope with reality in their own way. A way that could lead to fatal mistakes, serendipitous encounters, a failed togetherness, or to their own self.

The Princess of Egypt

The Princess of Egypt

“She is crazy. She is completely crazy.”
Is she? And if so, what went terribly wrong to make fear control her love to her daughter and ultimately her life?
A captivating film story beyond well-known clichés and expected patterns. And probably most of all, two genuinely depicted characters amidst a society of indifference and failed, self-serving attempt for help. Worth watching.

My Destiny

What do you think of when you hear about gypsies? Miserable sites full of barracks, poverty, crimes? Or colors, joy, big families, noisy celebrations? Probably both. “My Destiny” challenges our perceptions, lets us experience different points of view and be part of a simple at first, yet much intricate and important story. It’s so genuinely human that we instinctively turn a blind eye to a few rather naive moments. Or do they make him so special? A clear recommendation.

Bending the Rules

Films from Iran are an integral and enriching part of the festival. Last year’s Final Whistle remains one of the most impressive film stories. “Bending the Rules” is much different when it comes to the topic, but so similar in its uniqueness and potential to change. A group of young dreamers is working hard on achieving a milestone – a theater performance abroad. Admittedly, it’s much more than just a performance and throughout the film turn into a life-changing experience for many of them. All that in incredibly long and wonderfully shot scenes, almost no interruptions and cuts… it almost feels like sitting in a theater… a theater of dreamers. Will they choose to remain true to a friend or to achieve their goal? One of the most amazing films this year.

Bending the Rules

* from the film “Ghaedeye Tasadof – Bending the Rules”

Film Festival Heidelberg 2013: Opening

“If someone doesn’t like you because you don’t talk drivel, then they are not worth knowing. It’s as simple as that.”
Frida, one of the characters in “Home”

They always get me… these festival opening films. They get me thinking and feeling… forgetting all the vanity, cold, noisiness around. This year’s “Home” was no exception.

Of course, I was excited and looking forward for the festival to start. I love seeing people on the opening evening happily rushing on their way to the venue, overhearing parts of random agitated conversations, being part of the wonderful atmosphere and sharing the passion for authentic film-making.

International Fim Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg 2013 Opening evening

But what excites me more than that, are touching film stories – stories that have the power to make us (re-)think and (re-)consider. Stories like “Home” where four very different people let us discover a world of honesty, memories, searching… and finding. We all have been confronted with some, perhaps even many, aspects of their journey and it’s eye-opening and moving to be a part of it. It feels so familiar and all four of them are so wonderfully ‘human’ and unique that by the end of the film you almost feel like sharing a cup of coffee or tea with them. The cup of coffee or tea that was accompanying and connecting them throughout the film. And while you imagine how you drink a coffee with them you start thinking about your own search for honesty, happiness, for the place you belong to and probably without noticing it you even start seeing it differently…

The only thing left for you now is to go and see the film. Highly recommended!

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