Best Of The Fests
As usual in our Best of the Fests strand we track the programmes and awards from a wide range of festivals and then choose films that offer breadth and depth.
When a guerrilla commander asks a postman, Man Baldar, to record the cry of his newborn son, it's the beginning of a long journey. He travels between villages in Iraqi Kurdistan, trying to deliver messages between families separated by the raging war. The beauty of the landscape contrasts evocatively with the horrors (mostly off-screen) of battle. Aldi's poetic style won him Critics' Week prizes at Cannes, and Best Film at the International Eurarab film festival in Amal, Spain. '
Pivellina is slang for 'little girl'. This pivellina, two-year-old Asia (played by Asia Crippa), has been abandoned by her mother on a swing somewhere in inner Rome. 50-something circus worker Patrizia, against her husband's wishes, takes the child to live in their trailer-park, and soon both of them, and the adolescent child-minder Tairo, have fallen for the charming child. Through their eyes we see the underbelly of Italian life, yet via a heart-tugging, unpreachy tale.
This animation comes from the director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The film's world is simultaneously a 'real' world where gifted student Kenji is persuaded to visit Natsuki's family for the summer – only to find he has to pretend to be her boyfriend when that's what he really wants to be anyway – and the virtual world of Oz, a cross between Facebook and the wider reaches of the Net, where anything might happen. The stories interweave brilliantly; in Japan it has already spawned novels and other spin-offs.
Sowetan Lucky Kunene decides, when his fellow petty-criminal Nazareth gets hurt in a botched ram-raid,that it's time for something on a bigger scale: taking over apartment blocks by allying himself with their tenants. But slum landlords and drug dealers – not to mention the police - don't like what he's doing. Drama, violence, and an oblique angle on post-apartheid society ensue.
We see the underbelly of urban Iran – the title is a slang name for Tehran's slums - in this first feature by Homayoun, who got permission to shoot his fiction by pretending it was a documentary. Ibrahim struggles to get by, renting a baby to improve his begging potential and trying to conceal his criminal associations from his new wife. Both crime drama and social study, Tehroun won the International Critics’ Week Audience award at the Venice Film Festival.
St Anthony's demonic torment is the inspiration for a modern manager's midlife crisis. His marriage, his friendships, and his work – where he has to sack everyone – provoke a series of marvellously shot, and oddly funny scenes.