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Tuesday, 6/25/2019

The future of cinema

The films of the CineVision Competition

One of ten titles in the CineVisions Competition: CENIZA NEGRA

The young international directors of tomorrow are bold, they're thinking further and further outside the box, and they're always ready to portray different points of view. That's why FILMFEST MÜNCHEN traditionally recognizes outstanding first or second films in the CineVision competition. This year, the section includes ten promising films, among them the festival's opening film, THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE. The CineVision Award is a 15,000-euro prize sponsored by MPLC Deutschland. A panel of three judges will select the winning film.

What does it mean to be "other" and what does it mean, then, to belong? In various ways, these questions permeate the films of this year's CineVision competition. ANGELO by Markus Schleinzer, for example, tells the story, based in large part on true events, of a slave who was brought from Africa to Europe as a child and who thenceforth leads a life in a gilded cage — as a valet to a marchioness.

In MANTA RAY by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, being the "other" does not inspire exotic fascination, but rather a justification for persecution. In a small coastal city in Thailand, a fisherman rescues a Muslim Rohingya refugee from Myanmar and takes him in. One day, when the fisherman disappears without a trace, the Rohingya man gradually takes his place in all aspects of life, from his dyed blond hair to his ex-wife.

 

MANTA RAY, ANGELO and WINTER AFTER WINTER

 

WINTER AFTER WINTER by Chinese director Jian Xing shows that otherness can be threatening and can even wreck family relationships. This film, which is set during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, is about a patriarch who is so concerned about his family's bloodline that he's prepared to force his sons to impregnate their own sister-in-law.

And in THE MAN WHO SURPRISED EVERYONE, a family's happiness is jeopardized when Egor is diagnosed with cancer and resorts to an unusual measure to escape the illness: he dresses as a woman. This film by Natasha Merkulova and Alexey Chupov is about a fear of death, a search for one's own sexual identity, and way homosexuality is dealt with in Russia.

Family, tradition, loss of control. These themes are recurring ones among the films in the 2019 CineVision competition. In black-and-white images, SONG WITHOUT A NAME by Melina León unfolds the story of a Peruvian woman who, assisted by a journalist, goes in search of the child who was taken from her right after birth.

Thirteen-year-old Selva is also growing up without her parents in a village in the middle of the rain forest in Costa Rica. LAND OF ASHES by Sofía Quirós Ubeda tells in a magical way the story of Selva's path to adulthood — between living with her grandfather, her friends at school, and the ever-present subject of death.

Growing up and surpassing oneself is one of the most difficult tasks there is. Sometimes overcoming one's own hurdles can only be done with the help of others. In THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE, for example, it's a charismatic sensei who teaches his anxious pupil not only karate but also what it means to be "a real man". This film by Riley Stearns, with plenty of dark humor and Jesse Eisenberg in the leading role, will open the 37th FILMFEST MÜNCHEN. The director and lead actor will be present on opening night.

 

THE MAN WHO SURPRISED EVERYONE, ANIMALS and JUDY AND PUNCH

 

Stereotypical images of masculinity are, however, not the only things that are called into question in the films competing for the CineVision Award. The question of women's proper behavior is also raised. In JUDY AND PUNCH by Mirrah Foulkes, tension within a married couple, the puppeteers Judy and Punch, escalates. When her husband turns violent after drinking, Judy emancipates herself and seeks revenge.

The implication from this that traditional domestic life is taboo for a woman who's self-aware in the feminist sense is a topic brought up by ANIMALS by Sophie Hyde. A long-term friendship is put to the test when one of the women decides to get married and thus betray her ideals in the eyes of the others.

Michael Angelo Covino's THE CLIMB is another film in which the bond between two friends is put to the test. In this case, it's when one of them confesses to the other that he'd once been romantically involved with the other's fiancée. He tells him this while the two are pedaling uphill on a bike tour.

Repeatedly, people's humaneness is challenged in the films of the new cinematic visionaries. How do we maintain our humanity in times of crisis? This is a question that, at present, cannot be asked often enough.

In this year's CineVision section, the new directors are presenting films that are thematically diverse and grandly envisioned. We are looking forward to lots of wonderful film screenings and an exciting competition!