It’s Bratslava, Slovakia in the early 80s. The country is under Communist reign, and Maria Drazdechova is not just a teacher but the chairman of the local communist group. When it comes out that the students who get the best grades have parents who are helping provide Maria with goods and services, it is very hard for the head teacher to take action. But a meeting is called with the patents and all kinds of truths are revealed.
This seems to be a great comment on communism along the lines of Animal Farm – we see the corruption which is inevitable when humans are involved. I thought it was great – funny, interesting but ultimately concerning.
In 2015, in a bus terminal in Southern Israel, a horrible event happened. I don’t want to say more, because the film allows the story to unfold in a very unusual way. The filmmaker has interviewed people who were at the scene and then, using footage from the CCTV cameras on site, shows them during the event.
It’s fascinating and clever and horrifying. Just don’t read the blurb from MIFF, because it gives more information that necessary – had I read it before watching, it would have ruined the film for me.
It’s Paris in the late eighties/early nineties. HIV and AIDS is prevalent and there are several activist groups fighting for the release of more effective drugs and treatment. Act Up Paris are a group who lead protests involving fake blood and chants trying to raise awareness and force action. This film follows these activists as they fight, protest, dance and fall in love.
It’s a tough film, but of course it is going to be with that content. It’s funny at times, but generally is very sensitive and a fabulous story. I would definitely recommend it, but would suggest planning your evening so you don’t pair this with another difficult film, because it had me going home quite emotional.
Vincent(Kyan Khojandi) lives a life stuck in a rut – he runs the hairdressing salon that he inherited from his father, takes care of his needy mother, Simone(Anemone), and has a long-distance relationship with a girl who keeps cancelling their visits. Then he sees Rosalie Blum (Noemie Lvovsky) in a grocery store outside of his usual routine and recognises her. He cannot place her, but becomes obsessed with trying to recall why she is so familiar. Things are not as they seem, however, and when Aude(Alice Isaaz) comes onto the scene, everything changes.
It’s a delightful French film. Somehow, even the kind of creepy stalking parts have an innocent charm to them. And people are raving about this film. Yet.. I wanted to like it, but just didn’t. It seems like the type of film I absolutely should love. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the story is quirky and fun with a hidden depth. But I just didn’t really like it. I still recommend it – I think most people will enjoy it more than I did. The guy behind me in the cinema loved it!
In 1978, a famous South Korean actress and her director ex-husband were kidnapped and taken to North Korea to make films for Kim Jong-il. Eight years later, they managed to escape. That’s the story.
I’d heard the story told on This American Life some time ago, and I think that’s what made the documentary less engaging for me – I knew the story, I’d heard it told from their points of view, and so I knew where it was going. However, what I was fascinated with was the footage from the North Korean films – a few years ago, MIFF had a series of North Korean films, and it is very interesting to see what has been produced from that country.
I cannot remember who introduced me to this insane Norwegian mockumentary, but I thank them forever. I got my own copy and for years, every so often a group of us get together and Get Ready to be Boyzvoiced. It’s a mockumentary following the three members of Boyzvoice, M’Pete (Espen Eckbo), Hot Tub (Oyvind Thoen) and Roar (Kaare Daniel Steen) as they hit the highs and lows of their career. Written, directed and starring Edpen Eckbo in multiple roles, I assume that he is the Chris Lilly of Norway. But it’s not the plot or the characters that are the highlight. It’s the lyrics. The cheesey love song that laments ‘but she’s my cousin. Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ Or ‘being fooled by a twelve-year-old woman’. It’s wrong, but oh so funny.
Claire (Ariane Ascaride) is a seventeen-year-old who has accidentally fallen pregnant and decides that she will have the baby and adopt it out. She lives alone, and takes sick leave from her supermarket job. She doesn’t want anyone to know that she is pregnant – not her family or colleagues. She loves to embroider, and takes a job with a seamstress who has recently lost her son in an accident.
This is one of those films where kind of not a lot happens. It’s slow and beautiful and the craftwork is amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of this small world for an hour and a half.
A Common Thread won the Critics Week Grand Prize in 2004