From Monday the 15th of November until Monday the 13th of December this thread is going to be the main hub for the 5th edition of our forum’s annual fest that highlights recent films that fly under the mainstream radar. Here we are discussing the 10 selected movies of this year's main slate, which features a wide range of challenging but also fun and rewarding movies, including a center piece that all seven of our programmers unanimously loved: The 20th Century. Be sure to also check out the separate threads for our ten other sections, including for the first time a section dedicated to Africa!
Africa – viewtopic.php?p=740702#p740702
Animation - viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5676
Art House - viewtopic.php?p=740705#p740705
Asia - viewtopic.php?p=740706#p740706
Documentary - viewtopic.php?p=740707#p740707
English Language Independent - viewtopic.php?p=740709#p740709
Europe - viewtopic.php?p=740711#p740711
Just Before Dawn - viewtopic.php?p=740713#p740713
Latin America - viewtopic.php?p=740714#p740714
LGBTQ – viewtopic.php?p=740716#p740716
The entire program is listed in this ICM-checklist:
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/icmf ... am/beavis/
Please rate the films you've seen on a scale from 1-10 to help contribute to this year's Audience Award.
On to the films of the Main slate, starting with this year’s centerpiece highlight!
Matthew Rankin, Canada
The 20th Century is a visually breathtaking, thoroughly bizarre and certifiably campy reimaging of the rise to power of one William Lyon Mackenzie King - one of Canada's longest-serving prime ministers and a symbol of pre and post WW2 Canada.
In this reality Canada is a poor, gaslighted and willing prisoner of a Fascistic Britain - represented by Lord Protector Moto - and flying the flag of the "Old Disappointment". Canadian citizens are to "do more than expected, and accept less than deserved". Freedom is terrorism, loyalty is all - and democracy is nowhere to be seen: replaced by baby seal clubbing, the art of passive aggressiveness - and a long line of other great trials of "Canadian manhood".
The acting style is a delightful mix of deadpan and the over-the-top earnestness of bad infomercials or 30s propaganda, and the balancing act continues and flourishes visually. We get everything from "ultra-camp" sets that may give us flashbacks to 70s TV shows, to stunning and elegant minimalist sets best described as German expressionism, but in stunning, bright colors.
What is left is jarring to say the least, but in the best possible way. An eerie pastiche of reality and fiction brought to life through contradictions and a lot of heart. In this “neverworld” women (often) play men and men (often) play women. The fakest looking bird you have ever seen can talk. Boots (that no one wears) may be the sexiest of objects. This is the kind of madness you can simply get lost in - and it is hard not to love every second.
Kantemir Balagov, Russia
Beanpole follows a tall, slim nurse (a beanpole) as she struggles through life in a war torn Leningrad and cares for a child. We get tender moments between her and the child, but there is an icy underbelly which is to be revealed. We also dive into the life of her friend, damaged from the front and prospects of love. This is only Kantemir Balagov's second feature, after the violently powerful, emotive, muted and simultaneously explicit Closeness (featured in ICMFFF3). His cinematography remains grimy, but with added color and elegance this time. It creates a colorful darkness which suits the muted emotions of his characters wonderfully well and also makes Balagov fit snugly in a tradition of filmmaking in Leningrad that has Alexander Sokurov, who is clearly a mentor for Balagov, as its biggest name.
La ciudad occulta (The Hidden City)
Victor Moreno, Spain
This is a wordless documentary that explores hidden spaces in a sensory way comparable to a movie like Leviathan (2012), making them feel otherworldly and exciting. It also is another highlight of a current surge in experimental filmmaking in Spain (mostly taking place in Galicia, as highlighted by two movies in our art house section, though this one is not part of that scene). The makers advise you to experience this "ride" through tunnels, sewers, underground systems and other such things in complete darkness. A piece of advice we can only strongly repeat!
This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection
Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Lesotho
This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection lures you in with trippy, nightmarish sounds and visuals before it unleashes you into a slow, brooding and poetic work. You may be tempted to believe the title in a more literal sense, as the main protagonist, an elderly woman named Mantoa, has just lost her son. But what it really captures is progress vs. tradition, or more specifically cold progress vs. people. As the entire village is set to be flooded with a new dam, and the villagers, all seemingly poor farmers, are to be relocated to the capital. We peer into humanity, and into what stands to be lost. We spend time in the beauty and serenity of the village, we see the bonds formed, we see the pain in leaving, we see Mantoa's despair, and we feel it.
Zhuang si le yi zhi yang (Jinpa)
Pema Tseden, China
At first glance Jinpa is all about the look, with echoes of the noir genre. It is deliciously lit, with the frames emitting pure heat. There is limited dialogue, limited action, and a spiked haired protagonist who essentially never removes his sunglasses. The type of cool, no-nonsense look that would have fit in perfectly in a Kar-Wai Wong film 20 or 30 years ago. But this is not that kind of a film. Jinpa is actually a slow, brooding, lyrical and (this becomes clearer and clearer as the movie progresses) philosophical tale about choices, connections and thoughts. About paths merging into one. Tibet is not a place for superficial coolness. But it is also produced by Kar-Wai Wong, so it all makes sense.
Sheytan vojud nadarad (There is no Evil)
Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran
This may be one of the bravest denunciations of the oppressive Iranian regime, and what is accepted as the rule of law. There is No Evil leaves the vile just on the edges and focuses on the mundanity, familiarity and intimacy of life, but with actions and choices that have deadly and ever-lasting consequences. In exploring relationships and the choices people make, or do not make, There is No Evil places an emphasis on submission to no-win situations. This connected theme is carried through four separate stories, capturing entirely different emotional motifs. It packs several punches and the first encounter with the "evil" in question comes out of nowhere!
Rúnar Rúnarsson, Iceland
Echo is a truly extraordinary work, combining 56 vignettes of everyday life, some 30-40 seconds long, into a 79-minute film. While there is no narrative, and even many of the vignettes are without plots, we start to see a greater whole taking shape. We are pulled in by dark humour and bleak minimalism, by familiarity and obfuscation. No character is ever revisited, but we do follow a clearly linear thread through time. With Christmas and a new year coming up, both in the movie and now, during the festival, this is the movie to contemplate on existence and the roles we play in our human society.
Hugo Lilja, Sweden
This brooding Swedish science-fiction film takes us on an emotionally charged journey through our very own solar system when a spacecraft carrying settlers to Mars encounters difficulties along the way. Aniara is a far cry from the blockbuster territory that you might expect to see from the film's description as it focuses on the human drama and existentialism of the life-altering scenario to deliver a bleak and thought-provoking insight into consumerism and the human condition. The impressive set design provides a striking backdrop to the narrative and places us in a world full of artificiality that feels uncomfortably familiar. This is a subdued, low-key journey through space, though it succeeds in reaching for the stars by delivering a powerful message alongside its perilous voyage.
Hiroyuki Imaishi, Japan
An intense kaleidoscope of colour and sound awaits anyone who delves into the immersive sensory overload that is showcased in Promare. This Japanese animation delivers a relentless assault of visual wonder and excitement that depicts a future where a firefighting mecha service are pushed to the limits as they battle to protect our world from a new breed of pyrokinetic humans. The action is fast and frenetic and the impressive anime style makes for a variety of memorably chaotic set pieces. Those who appreciate apocalyptic action and hyper stylised cinema are sure to be blown away by the exhilarating experience on offer from Director Hiroyuki Imaishi, who started his career as an animator for the acclaimed TV Series Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Shengwei Zhou, China
S He is a bold and beautiful Chinese stop-motion animation that will inevitably resonate with fans of Jan Svankmajer and the Quay Brothers. This impressive debut feature by Director and Writer Shengwei Zhou utilizes a wealth of quirky and inventive visuals to depict the exploits of a devoted mother shoe who camouflages herself as a male shoe to protect her daughter in this wildly original experience. S He could easily be enjoyed at face value for the absurd Lynchian nightmare world it depicts (you will come face to face with a brain walking around on legs that farts cigarettes!) though it also offers thoughtful commentary on gender, overthrowing the system, and Chinese factory shop workers, which is a spectacular achievement for an animated film without dialogue.