Requiem for Mrs. J
Requiem for Mrs. J

The 19th Bratislava International Film Festival will take place from November 9 to 16, under the main theme – the art of film acting. The festival will open with Requiem for Mrs. J. (J. Rekvijem za gospođu, 2017) by the Serbian director and one of the members of the Fiction Competition jury Bojan Vuletić. This tragicomedy tells the story of an unemployed widow, meticulously preparing for her suicide. The film rests on the masterly acting performance of Mirjana Karanović.

The section Cinema Now, a selection of festival hits and highly anticipated new releases, will also feature the Indian film Sexy Durga (2017), which won the Hivos Tiger Award at this year’s festival in Rotterdam. This road movie about two lovers wandering the southern Indian province of Kerala is a great improvisation as well as a fascinating reflection on the contemporary India. The Chronicles of Melanie (Melānijas hronika, 2016) tells a story unravelling during the 1940’s Soviet occupation of Latvia, inspired by true life events of the journalist Melānija Vanaga. The film directed by Viesturs Kairišs is the Latvian candidate for an Oscar. Another film featured in the section is the Slovak premiere of a new release from the all-star French director François Ozon called Double lover (L’amant double, 2017). The titillating erotic thriller toys with a secret and a blurred line between expectations and reality. A Ciambra (2017) directed by Jonas Carpignano is the Italian candidate for an Oscar as well as one of the top ten nominees for this year’s LUX Prize. The story revolves around a teenage Romani boy Pio, who must quickly become a man in order to support his family.

One of the traditional festival sections Made in Slovakia presents the local and international audience with several attractive new local releases, many of them in their Slovak premiere. An anticipated documentary film, which will enter the current local film scene by its premiere at the Bratislava IFF, is a portrait of a recently late Slovak big beat icon Varga. The young director Sonya Maletzová met and started filming Marián Varga towards the end of his life. Through a sophisticated montage of archival records, the film condenses Varga’s life and career decades into musical numbers, where one track echoes in interpretations from different periods. His mortal frame visibly changes along with his musical style and temperament. However, somewhere beneath, Varga remains preciously unchanging and artistically as well as humanly consistent.

Another premiere to look forward to is the final part of Jan Hřebejk’s and Petr Jarchovský’s trilogy Garden store: Suitor (Zahradnictví: Nápadník, 2017) This time, it is a story of love, exposing the quiet war between parents and their children, affected by the war and the communist coup d’état.

Suitor is a bird’s-eye-view portrayal of the sharp dividing line between the pre- and post-war generations. They each have their own vision of happiness and therefore tread their own paths to reach it.

The section will also present a controversial portrait of a “velvet neo-Nazi”, The White World According to Daliborek (Svět podle Daliborka, 2017), by the Czech director Vít Klusák. The film was realized partially thanks to a co-production with Slovakia, especially through a significant creative input of the composer Vladimír Godár, whose music tinted the grotesque images of Dalibor’s everyday life a with a color of human tragedy.

The Made in Slovakia section will traditionally comprise a selection of films made by the students of the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica. This year the audience should not miss the internationally successful student films noticed by some of the biggest world festivals. Atlantis, 2003 (Atlantída, 2003, 2017) directed by Michal Blaško appeared in the student competition of the Cinéfondation film festival in Cannes and Magic Moments (2017) by Martina Buchelová made it to the Short Cuts competition section at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The list of legendary Slovak actors currently featuring Ladislav Chudík, Mária Kráľovičová, Jozef Adamovič, Štefan Kvietik, Eva Krížiková, Ivan Palúch, Emília Vášaryová and Martin Huba, whose memorial tiles are already embedded in the Bratislava Film Walk of Fame, will include the name of yet another outstanding actress – Božidara Turzonovová. This year’s laureate of the award for lifetime artistic creation and holder of a Film Walk of Fame memorial tile will personally introduce the film Penelope (Penelopa, 1977) directed by Štefan Uher, in which she played the lead role.

This year’s Lexicon section will shed some light on the specifics, history and future of acting for film, starting with the perfect acting opposites of silent slapstick comedy – Chaplin and Keaton – and ending with virtual actors in the era of 3D cinema. The section will feature two films from the silent era, The Floorwalker (1916) and One Week (1920), followed by the breakthrough A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), whose legendary lead star Marlon Brando uses the so-called method acting. The history of the Slovak cinema will be represented by the remarkable film Our Daily Life (Deň náš každodenný, 1969), interesting by the way it works with non-actors. The section’s highlight is a study of a consuming physical and psychological transformation of an actress who gradually merges with her character Kate Plays Christine (2016). The film directed by the American filmmaker Robert Greene is the winner of last year’s Special Jury Prize for the best screenplay in the category of documentary films at the Sundance Film Festival.

The 19th edition of the Bratislava International Film Festival will welcome one of the most outstanding actors on the current European acting scene, Jean-Marc Barr, who has received world recognition thanks to his cooperation with the controversial Danish director Lars von Trier, especially as the star of Luc Besson’s cult film The Big Blue (Le grand bleu, 1988). In Bratislava, Jean-Marc Barr will receive the festival’s own Award for Artistic Excellence in World Cinema as well as personally introduce his latest film Grain (Bugday, 2017), directed by the renowned Turkish filmmaker Semih Kaplanoğlu and often likened to Tarkovsky’s Stalker.

Another big name to attend the festival is the star of the North American independent film, the Canadian Denis Côté. The works of the 43-year-old Canadian director and former film critic with images from Eisenstein’s Ten Days that Shook the World tattooed on his back, are characteristic by their blending of fiction and documentary methods, as well as things left unsaid and secrets. The highlight of the profile section will be represented by the Slovak premiere of Côté’s latest film A Skin so Soft (Ta peau si lisse, 2017) about professional strongmen and bodybuilders.

The events accompanying the main festival program will include a number of great musical evenings, thought-provoking discussions and masterclasses of this year’s main festival faces Jean-Marc Barr and Denis Côté. The theme of acting will also sound throughout the lecture of Ladislav Dedík, the founder of Studio 727 post-production company, who will talk about the issue of the digital actor, motion-capture technology and full-body scan, linked to the future of film acting in the era of computer generated and special effects films and video games.

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