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ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: November 13th, 2022, 11:25 pm
by beavis
Welcome to the 2022 ICM Forum Film Festival!

From Monday the 14th of November until Monday the 12th of December this thread is going to be dedicated to discussing this year’s special selection of four outstanding European films.
The Main festival hub is here: viewtopic.php?p=787599#p787599

Please rate the films you've seen on a scale from 1-10 to help contribute to this year's Audience Award.


After Love (2020 UK) is a British film that largely takes place in Calais, the point of France closest to the English coast. Recently widowed Mary discovers that her Pakistani-born husband had been exchanging texts with an unknown woman, so she crosses the channel to investigate her suspicions, entering into the lives of Geneviève and her son Solomon. Secrets abound, with no character truly revealing themself to any other (including the deceased Ahmed). Joanna Scanlon won Best Actress at both the BAFTAs and the British Independent Film Awards, and she truly carries this film that has remained under-seen since its release. While it's tempting to consider this film a reflection of modern and emerging Europe, where immigrants, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, make up an increasing part of the population (Muslims account for 5-10% in countries like France and the UK), at its heart it's a character study in its simplest form: as hinted by the title, it's about what people do to overcome tragedy in their lives.

Bye Bye Morons (2020 France) is a César-winning black comedy about a terminally-ill woman befriending a suicidal tech expert as she tries to track down the child she gave up for adoption as a teenager before it's too late. A chaotic journey around the city where bureaucracy and technology reign supreme, this absurdist film nevertheless manages to stick to the heart and soul of the story and maintain a strong emotional pull no matter how madcap the antics are or how preposterous the situation is that the characters find themselves in. Botched suicides, anonymous love letters, blind drivers, demential doctors, and another entry into the "scenes about people stuck in an elevator" list (perhaps more Top Gun than Resident Evil) are just some of the comical and emotional highlights. Your mileage may vary on this one, but the ending is sure to make it memorable once it's all said and done.

Father (2020 Serbia), not to be confused with Florian Zeller's The Father from the same year, is based on a true story of a man who travelled to Belgrade to try and have his children returned to him after they were taken away by Social Services. After his wife attempts self-immolation in front of her children in protest of her husband still not having received his severance package after losing his factory job a year earlier, the dirt poor Nikola sets out on foot across the country to reclaim his children while his wife recovers in hospital. It's a bleak, one-man-against-the-system drama that one could imagine easily being transposed to the American midwest or northern Japan; viewers may also notice some similarities with Romanian New Wave dramas about government bureaucracy. One man's struggle to provide for his children with decency and integrity should speak to us all.

Luzzu (2021 Malta), named after the small colourful traditional fishing boats of the island nation, follows a young man and his wife struggling to make ends meet to provide for their baby who has health problems. Jesmark is a fisherman, like his ancestors before him, trying to eke out a living amidst the modernization of Malta, EU fishing quotas, and traditional notions of masculinity. His desire to provide for his wife and child, without relying on handouts from her rich family that she left to be with him, lead him to look into the black market of fishing to make extra money. A third film that touches upon the unintended theme of ruinous bureaucracy in this slate, we watch as Jesmark struggles, inwardly and outwardly, in a film that's all about subtle conflict - there's no big burst of violence, or face off, or climactic fight, but every interaction and every scene plays out almost like a silent confrontation between the two people on screen. Sometimes, the conflict is written only in Jesmark's face and body language as he tries to reconcile tradition with progress, independence with security, and duty with self-respect. Malta's not known for it's homegrown film industry, but if this one is any indication, this island fortress in the middle of the Mediterranean has a lot more to offer.


Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: November 26th, 2022, 8:39 am
by beavis
almost at the halfway point
no views yet??

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 3rd, 2022, 5:58 am
by blocho
A poor family man runs into an unexpected expense (a sick family member is often the problem, as it is here). He has some options for raising funds, but all of them disagree with his sensibilities in some way. His money issues grow direr. When he spots a way to make some quick money illegally, he takes the opportunity. You know that complications will ensue.

It’s a very familiar story, from Breaking Bad to about a quarter of the noirs ever made. What sets this version of the story apart is the titular object, a traditional, multi-colored, wooden fishing boat that is particular to Malta. This narrative is set in motion when the protagonist’s luzzu develops a leak. Hauled out of the water, it spends most of the movie on the beach, waiting for repairs, a metaphor for the quagmire the main character finds himself in. Passed down through multiple generations of his family, the luzzu is symbolic of an entire way of life that is fading. This movie’s great accomplishment is to make the protagonist’s struggle — beset both by personal difficulties and impersonal forces like climate change, European Union bureaucracy, and industrial modernity — synonymous with that of Malta and working people all over the world.


As an aside, Gloede, do you still live in Malta? I'd be interested in knowing what a local thinks of this movie.

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 10th, 2022, 6:19 am
by beavis
1 - 7,5 - Adieu les cons
2 - 7,5 - After Love
3 - 7 - Otac
4 - 7 - Luzzu

While Europe always provides the greatest wealth of strong contenders, I felt mostly lukewarm on our final selections here. Again no stinkers. I just didn't care much for the obviously struggling men of Otac and Luzzu, and the other two where "just" entertaining. That said, Adieu les Cons is VERY entertaining... might give it an extra half point on a rewatch and Virginie Efira has really "blown up" over the past two years. This years Les enfants des autres could be a strong contender to be selected for a future festival.

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 11th, 2022, 9:31 am
by sol
Ranked in order of preference:

1. Adieu les cons - 9
2. After Love - 8
3. Otac - 8
4. Luzzu - 6

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 11th, 2022, 4:57 pm
by St. Gloede
My write-ups on these 4 films:

Father (2020, Srdan Golubovic)


Based on true events, Father tells the story of a parent willing to do anything he can to get his children back after he is deemed too poor to take care of them. The tone, social critique and anguish it inspires towards power structures can best be compared to the social films of Ken Loach. At every encounter with authority, they treat the events with cold and calculated checklists, dead demeanours and either empty words or checklists. It engages you in the desperate plight and shows you the bare open wounds of being poor and powerless in a system where you have no voice, filling you with anger and despair.

The film does however break from familiar Loach motifs in that it soon focuses on the sheer perseverance of our protagonist's attempt to walk Serbia's capital of Belgrade to appeal his case. With no money, and rough living as the only option, we follow him as he meets strangers on the road and simply attempts to survive. 8/10

After Love is an intriguing drama (as well as an interesting near back-to-back viewing with A White, White Day) about a Muslim woman who discovers that her recently deceased husband was cheating on her, with tensions escalating as she travels across the English canal to confront the mistress in France and discovers the extent of the affair. Much of the film's success and power has to be credited to the wonderful and complex performance of Joanna Scanlan in the lead role, giving us a clear sense of grief, coupled with bewilderment, confusion and disbelief. The confrontation takes a very different approach than expected, and there are many spoken and unspoken points of conflict and longing that leaves us on a note of moral yet healing ambivilance. 8/10

I did not do a write-up for Luzzu, which is pretty frustrating. 8/10

Bye Bye Morons is a fun, dark comedy with semi-Jeunet (or shall we rather say, Amelie) stylings, or maybe closer to the Belgian Jaco Van Dormael. It is a little more slight and silly in portions perhaps, but the style and type of comedy is rare enough to make it a treat - and it has heaps of charm - even if it is very clear what it is going for. 7.5/10

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 11th, 2022, 5:51 pm
by hurluberlu
Watched before the festival

Adieu Les Cons

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 11th, 2022, 7:00 pm
by St. Gloede
blocho wrote: December 3rd, 2022, 5:58 am As an aside, Gloede, do you still live in Malta? I'd be interested in knowing what a local thinks of this movie.
I do.

I'm not sure how well the film did in Malta. There was a decent amount of media exposure for the film, more than most Maltese films, as it did quite well abroad, but the interest in Maltese films seem fairly low. I don't think any of my in-laws have seen it yet.

That said it was the highest-grossing Maltese film of the year (only $47,617). I can't seem to find the overall box office numbers for Malta. That would have been very helpful.

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 11th, 2022, 8:23 pm
by pitchorneirda
1. Luzzu - 6.5
2. Otac - 6.5
3. After Love - 5
4. Adieu les cons - 5

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 13th, 2022, 1:45 am
by outdoorcats
Luzzu - 7

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 13th, 2022, 5:25 pm
by filmbantha
My first 8/10 - Adieu Les Cons is an excellent film - disappointed to see that others who sought it out didn't connect with it in the same way that I did.

1. Adieu Les Cons 8
2. After Love 7
3. Otac 6
4. Luzzu 6

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 14th, 2022, 3:29 am
by zzzorf
1. After Love (2020) - 8/10 - Scanlan is great as the widow who must not just come to grips with the sudden death of her husband but the sudden finding of his secret family over the English Channel. A very moving drama.

2. Father (2020) - 8/10 - I love these sort of tales and even though the majority of the movie was just the Father as he travelled I was hooked the entire runtime.

3. Luzzu (2021) - Sometimes the most simplest movies can be so much more than a movie that puts in so much effort to be great. A simple story, well handled and didn't quite go as I expected, I enjoyed this one.

4. Bye Bye Morons (2020) - 4/10 - This had some fun moments but I do struggle a lot with this type of quirky French comedy.

A really strong slate this year, even despite my dislike with Bye Bye Morons. The other three movies just tell simple stories effectively proving you don't need to go over the top to make effective movies.

Re: ICMF-FF6: Europe Slate

Posted: December 17th, 2022, 11:47 pm
by Fergenaprido
Didn't get around to seeing the two remaining films for this slate, so no ratings from me, but I might chime in later this month/next month after I do see them, since Otac was one of my most anticipated titles for the festival, but I decided to prioritize lesser-seen slates and this one got a lot of love already.