5. nov. 2012

BIFF 2012: Part one

This years film festival in Bergen is now long gone. Armed with a press pass I watched dozens of films and documentaries. I have decided to say a few words about the ones I have watched. I saw a total of 19 films and documentaries.

Joschka und Herr Fischer (Documentary)

A thorough account of the political life of Joseph Martin Fischer. It remains interesting throughout in its depiction of a divided post-war Germany through the eyes of rebellious youth, one that is in the end forced to sacrifice his political alliegance in order to do what he believes is the greater good of society. Joseph Fischer is and certainly was a fascinating character. Highly recommended.

Amour/Love (Film)

This film explored elderly care, or lack thereof, and suffering as a result of it. In this regard the film is thoroughly exhausts your every emotion and leaves you feeling numb, this is one of them. I am unsure if the film was simply dull or ruined by the fact that the audience laughed at several scenes which I imagine were *not* intentionally humorous. It should be noted that the average age of audience dropped the second a sociology class of 30 students still in high school entered the theater. I suppose this goes to show that it is not always easy to review movies at festivals. The feeling of dread soon entered my body either for the fact that director Michael Haneke simply has no interest in appealing to his audience or the disruptive audience. The dialogue isn't interesting, the editing is clunky and the mood is drab. Life can be tough sometimes, but Haneke offers no redemption for his characters. Hunger (Steve McQueen) comes to mind; a film that showed that even in suffering there can be beauty. Amour has none. This review not admissable by the way.

 Beasts of The Southern Wild (Film)

As sudden as it appeared, it became an instant favorite with both critics and audiences alike just as fast. I went in with high expectations and was not disappointed. The whole theater was easily packed. First of all parts of the movie did come off as slightly contrived and might discourage some viewers, but this is a minor problem and hardly dampens the emotional payoff towards the end. Overall Beasts of The Southern Wild is a great film with an unusual narrative structure and naturalistic tone blended with audience-pleasing moments of humanity. It's a film that is very easy to get lost in, and hard to forget. 

How To Survive A Plague (Documentary)

The best kind of documentary is one that hits you right in the face by how well-done it is. How To Survive A Plague is without a doubt the best documentary and film I saw at this years festival, and perhaps the best film I've seen all year. Partly a documentation of 1980s AIDS-crisis, but mostly about the personal struggle of the members of the gay-rights activist group Act Up. Director David France serves up an entertaining and engaging look into how the crisis affected and eventually split the activist group. France elegantly keeps the scope on a few key characters throughout the film without lessening the overall historical scope. The dedication of the activist group is what truly fuels this film though, their pain and frustration is palpable until the very end. This film effortlessly invokes an emotional response of such magnitude rarely seen in the documentary genre and hits you right in the chest when you least expect it. How To Survive A Plague stands out simply by how humane it is without being too preachy or manipulating your feelings.

Footnote (Film)
Footnote is a film about father/son relationships and in this case one that has gone sour due to a conflict of interest. This infinitely entertaining comedy drama from Israel has some incredibly sharp writing and a solid emotional core on the subject of family. Both characters of father and son are expertly played, their differences illustrate the difficulty of both fatherhood and growing up. The film is sharply edited and plays like a classic feud-film. Footnote stands out easily due to its hilarious dialogue and the unpredictable nature of the characters. Its a superbly told story, which in the end will surprise you.