Thursday, 6/27/2019

Don’t Look Back In Anger

The films in the CineCoPro competition

Don’t Look Back In Anger


Cooperation must be the way forward, in global politics as well as in the film industry. In order to increase support for international cooperation as well as for German co-producers, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN will for the first time be presenting the 100,000-euro CineCoPro Award this year. Nine films are currently represented in this new section of the program: German co-productions with Bangladesh, Brazil, Denmark, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Romania, and other countries. A three-person panel of international judges will select the winning film.


"The past is never dead. It's not even past," US author William Faulkner once said — and several of the films in the new CineCoPro competition appear to prove him right. Escaping from the past and the consequences of one's own decisions is often a futile endeavor. Bálint Kenyeres' HIER, French for "yesterday", bears this fixation in its own title. In search of a past love, Victor wanders the unfamiliar streets and mystical landscapes of Morocco. The sun's glare beats down upon him as if to deride his earthly problems, as austerely as the gaze of the camera. The camera in IT MUST BE HEAVEN similarly keeps its distance as it observes all. This film follows Elia Suleiman's humorously stoic alter ego in his attempt to discover beauty in the absurd and to find a new home outside of Palestine. Yet wherever he winds up, his past and his homeland are — more or less abstractly — always with him.


Sometimes one's ties to the past are actual shackles. Anyone who gets involved with organized crime, for example, makes a lifetime commitment. To think about getting out is to take a major risk, as two renegade mafiosi find out. The revealingly titled biopic THE TRAITOR by Marco Bellocchio tells the true story of career criminal Tommaso Buscetta, for whom there's no escape from his past life. The only way out for Buscetta is to go on the offensive: he switches sides, surrenders to the authorities, and denounces his old companions. In Corneliu Porumboiu's neo-noir THE WHISTLERS, a corrupt policeman arrives on the island of La Gomera. To maintain his cover and communicate in code, this antihero must learn the local art of whistling. Sound crazy? It is!

Karim Aïnouz's THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF EURÍDICE GUSMÃO tells of a time when women were raised to be "invisible". Sisters Euridice and Guida determinedly pursue their dreams in Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s and ’50s, even when they have to follow different paths to do so. Women's self-empowerment is also the subject of Elisa Mishto's film STAY STILL. But because standing still is not something the two women in that film are prepared to do, they develop an extraordinary friendship.

Childhood and adolescence are major periods in (one's own) life on which all kinds of misty-eyed nostalgia can be projected. THE ORPHANAGE by Shahrbanoo Sadat establishes the Kabul disciplinary institution of its title as a microcosm of society. And in his one-take hostage drama SATURDAY AFTERNOON, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki creates his own microcosm of a much larger context and calls for tolerance and humanity.


Finally, the stunning visuals in GAZA, a documentary film by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell, portray everyday life lived within a permanent state of emergency. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip go about their lives and attempt as much normalcy as the belligerent circumstances will permit. Here, too, the past is ever-present, casting a pall over the present day that is hard to escape from. Or is it?

There is always hope.


Fabio Kühnemuth