08 December 2011

PÖFF 2011

The Black Nights Film Festival
Tallinn, Estonia

For the 8th time I had the pleasure of enjoying the Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) in Tallinn, Estonia. During the last five days of the festival I managed to see 12 movies and several short documentaries. There was a special focus on Icelandic film this year, and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson was honored with a lifetime achievement price.
Here is my subjective priority list of which films I recommend:

Gus Van Sant
USA 2011
A beautiful story about two young people finding together through their mutual interest in death. A streamlined, well produced movie that play on the right strings to touch the viewers.

Arni Olafur Asgeirsson
Iceland 2010
A strong drama about a microcosmos, the small community on board a fishing vessel in the harsh conditions off Iceland. The unique about this story is that even a strong story is tole, so many stories are untold. I get curious about all the people on the ship and their backgrounds.

Sons of Norway
Jens Lien
Norway 2011
A great comedy about how a suddenly single father and his son is seeking adventures in punk and nudism, a great story about growing up in the 70's in a Norwegian suburb. So exotic, but still so familiar. All filled with that Nordic black humour. 

I Wish
Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Japan 2011
A beautiful story about two separated brothers dreaming of something magical to happen: when the two first trains of the Shinkansen superfast trains meet, your wishes come true. A nice mixture of contemporary Japanese life, a little magic, and the joy and energy of kids. 

Our Own Oslo
Reynir Lyngdal
Iceland 2011
An Icelandic comedy, situated in something as exotic as an Icelandic cottage area. Fun and familiar. Well made, not exactly a complex story, but filled with slightly weird Icelandic humour.

Movie Days
Fridrik Thor Fridriksson
Iceland 1994
A beautiful story about growing up on Iceland. An autobiographical story about enjoying the movies. All the scenes seems like well staged tableaus. A masterpiece by Fridriksson, that shows why he earned the price of honour.

Children of Nature
Fridrik Thor Fridriksson
Iceland 1991 
Another beautiful story from FTF, about two old people wanting to decide themselves where and how to die. Beautiful nature views combined with strong actors.

Devil's Island
Fridrik Thor Fridriksson
Iceland 1996
About the relations between Iceland and USA in the 50's, about life among the poor inhabitants of the abandoned US barracs on Iceland. About how US culture was glorified and how the oldest son pampered as a king. About the tragical conditions and hard life of the poor on Iceland. It feels like a visit to a totally unknown world, both the terrible weather and living standards, and the extreme impact of US culture.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Daz Cai, Wang Jing, Anocha Suwichakornpong
Singapore 2010
How to break up during a meal in three different countries. Silent and beautifully, three different directors from three countries each picture a different meal between two people.

Mother's Paradise
Aktan Arym Dubat
A tragic story about how a mother must sacrifice all to take care of her kids. A well made movie from Kazakhstan, showing how deep it is possible to sink into poverty and trouble.

Fish & Onions
Marc Brummund
Germany 2011
A beautiful documentary about the Old Believers living on the shores of Lake Peipsi in Estonia. As the Russian Orthodox church was reformed, some chose not to be reformed and moved into exile. The tradition still lives on in these few villages. But the congregation mostly consists of old people, the young have to move to get work. This is not so much about the religion, mostly about portraying the people.  


Only one movie I saw was a disappointment this year, unfortunately this was also the only Estonian movie I saw:
The Idiot
Rainer Sarnet
Estonia 2011
I really wanted to like this movie. The top stars of Estonian film on the screen, a massive use of resources in the scenography, and based on "the Idiot" by Dostovjevsky, how can you fail? But in my opinion the dialogues, the personas and the story are failing. Maybe it is because I am not familiar with the original, maybe because I am not familiar with the actors and how they act. But I cannot get any connection with the persons in the movie, it all seems too pretencious and pompous. Is it because the Dostovjevsky text is not fit for film? Or has the intention to make this a grand, glamorous movie been on the cost of playing the story? I must admit that the camerawork, the scenes, the settings and the costumes are splendid, a feast for the eye. Maybe I should rather consider this as a costume play then a psychological drama.