Paradise (Russia, 2016)

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Andrei Konchalovsky’s Paradise is finally showing on our Montreal’s screens. The Winner of the director Award at the 2016 Venice Film Festival stars Yuliya Vysotskaya (House of Fools, The Lion in winter).

During World War 2, Olga, a Russian aristocrat living in Paris, is arrested for giving shelter to Jewish children and put into a concentration camp. A high-ranking SS officer, Helmut, who was in love with her in peaceful times, makes plan to save her casting doubts in her mind as she is confronted to the necessity of survival and choices.

Beautifully shot in black and white by Cinematographer Aleksandr Simonov Paradise story is told from three different view points: Olga, Helmut and a French collaborator. Scenes are cut with interviews of the three speaking in turns Continue reading

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RIDM 2017: Nowhere to hide (Iraq – 2016)

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Zaradasht Ahmed’s tragic film, Nowhere to hide, follows the tribulations of Nori Sharif, a medic, and his family through five years of war ravaged Central Iraq.

In 2011, the U.S soldiers are pulling out. Various groups, militias and ISIS, want to take over. A new war is on the verge. Ahmed gave Sharif a camera.  A perilous journey begins.  At first, we follow him tracking survivors and victims in a gripping insight into one of the most dangerous part of the world. He is a medic he sees them coming in everyday. And he films. In the middle of herds of sheep, they tell of a peaceful place that became a human hunting ground. And of the absence of real conflicts between tribes in these parts prior to the invasion. At times it sounds like the way natives of the Americas and Africa were treated. Their suffering, the war that is still going on, is now of no interests to the big medias.

Nowhere to hide is filled with fragmented disturbing stories. Corruption, violence, shootings, bombs, sudden disappearances, condemned children becoming Continue reading

RIDM 2017: Railway sleepers (Thailand, 2016)

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Sompot Chidgasornpongse’s Railway sleepers was shot through a period of eight years. This peculiar ride, all seen from the interiors of various Thai railway trains, is cleverly edited like it was only one long travel of a few hours through the country.

The camera takes a long glance in third class. A couple sleeping, a fortune teller doing her thing, a guitar player, a group of people singing, Monks reading. And the voices of unseen traveling sales (wo)men offering about anything. Water, coffee, sandwiches, various objects. Everything at 5 Baht. We constantly hear them shouting about Continue reading

Slava/ Glory (Bulgaria – 2016)

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From Bulgarian writer-director duo Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov comes Slava (Glory), a ferocious satire about state corruption.

Julia, a public relation official at the ministry of transports, must deal with a crisis over an in-house corruption scandal. When a poor and honest state railway worker named Tzanko finds a load of cash on routine checks and turns back the money to the authorities, she seizes the opportunity to use him as a diversion by trying to make him a circumstantial national hero. She soon discovers this simple man (who suffers from stuttering) doesn’t completely fit the bill.

Glory is an effective and cynical drama shot and edited with incisive care. It plays on the paradox between the personalities of its two main characters. Julia, in a way, is an empty speech specialist. She doesn’t have time, she doesn’t take time (her husband must constantly remind her about daily injections for fertility treatments). In spite of himself, Tzanko, with his Continue reading

Tokyo TIFF 2017: : Sexy Durga (India)

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In Sanal Kumar Sadhidaran’s Sexy Durga , a North Indian girl traveling with a Keralite man (they are obviously not married) are given a lift by a group of turbulent young adults. Soon the assistance offered to the couple, in what appears like unfriendly surroundings filled with cultural tension, seems to transform into what could be an abduction…

With numerous incidents, involving violence toward women, in India, and making worldwide news, Sexy Durga uses a premise which surely creates tension right from the start, using extreme long takes going from inside the car (camera is often attached to it). It is ingenious dramatically, if technically not completely mastered, while it can be tiresome to some viewers because of the amount of screen time where we are [Read more…] plunge in darkness. It becomes uneasy to clearly perceive what is going on exactly, except when it Continue reading