The Fever, directed by Maya Da-Rin and This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection, directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese are the winners of the 43rd Portland International Film Festival’s Future/future competition.
The Portland International Film Festival’s Future/future competition highlights boundary-pushing new cinema from emerging filmmakers and represents some of the most exciting new voices in global cinema.
Serving on the jury this year were Brandon Harris, Development Executive at Amazon Original Movies, Emily Woodburne, distribution for Janus Films, and Susan Lewis, Senior VP of Original Programming at Starz Encore Group LLC.
Films in Competition
Anne at 13,000 Ft.|
Dir. Kazik Radwanski
(2019, 75 mins., in English)
Only able to muster petty arguments with her colleagues and uncomfortable interactions with the kids, awkward daycare attendant Anne (the magnetic Deragh Campbell) waits for her life to start making sense as she approaches 30. But when Anne goes skydiving for her friend’s bachelorette party, an unfamiliar, freer version of herself comes to the fore—which leads to a blossoming relationship with Matt (Matt Johnson), whom she meets at the wedding. If Anne can channel the experience of skydiving with both feet planted firmly on the ground, perhaps she’ll finally be able to enter something resembling adulthood. Coupled with Campbell’s detailed performance, Radwanski’s transfixing camerawork and precise editing make Anne at 13,000 Ft. a wholly relatable glimpse at a woman on the brink.
Dir. Valentyn Vasyanovych
(2019, 106 mins., in Ukrainian and English with English subtitles)
In the not-so-distant future, Eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region is a war-ravaged wasteland of epic proportions, littered with abandoned structures and broken souls. Ex-soldier Sergiy (Andriy Rymaruk), afflicted with PTSD, lives out his days in an abandoned building while working at a steel smelting facility. Following the facility’s closure (depicted in a stunning tableau recalling early cinema), Sergiy takes a macabre new job inspecting the damage wrought by the long war with Russia, where he meets a like-minded colleague (Liudmyla Bileka) and slowly gathers hope for a better tomorrow. Vasyanovych, one of the emerging creatives behind 2014’s The Tribe (a PIFF38 selection), delves deep into the aftermath of war, producing one of the year’s most devastatingly beautiful films.
Dir. Roland Dahwen
(2020, 110 mins., in Spanish with English subtitles.)
Shot on 16mm film in long, thoughtful takes, Roland Dahwen’s debut feature tells the story of an immigrant family in Oregon whose life is disrupted when it’s revealed that the father has a second family. Reeling from this news, his wife Leonara must choose to either leave her husband, her dying mother, and her son, who has a mysterious illness—or to move on, and let her husband take responsibility for the family he’s destroyed. Haunted by memories, Leonara now struggles between her desires and her responsibilities. With a pace that mimics real life contemplations, Borrufa straddles the line between documentary and narrative, while the generational tragedies of human error slowly creep through the screen.
Dir. Maya Da-Rin
(2019, 98 mins., in Portuguese and Tukano with English subtitles)
This hypnotic debut fiction by documentarian Maya Da-Rin follows Justino (Regis Myrupu), an unassuming middle-aged security worker at the Manaus harbor in Brazil’s Amazonas state, and a member of the indigenous Desana people. While his daughter Vanessa (Rosa Peixoto) prepares to enter medical school, Justino, on his nightly bus rides home, begins seeing evidence of strange creatures in the woods near his home, and comes down with a mysterious fever. As the fever takes hold, Justino is drawn back to his ancestral lands. The contested spaces of Brazil’s northwestern region form the uneasy backdrop to this unclassifiable fever-dream—a work that radically centers indigenous oral histories as a vital form of storytelling, in stark contrast to the emergent fascism gripping the country.
Dir. Shengze Zhu
(2019, 124 mins., in Mandarin with English subtitles)
Live streaming to the internet (in particular to social media networks) has gained recent prominence in the US, despite having been a massive industry in China for some time, with an estimated half-billion people regularly streaming their daily activities—as it increasingly becomes a tool of the surveillance state. Present.Perfect. sees director Shengze Zhu fashioning a collage of these streaming clips into a mosaic portrait of Chinese society’s marginal figures in the always-online era. The film follows a group of “anchors” through humorous, touching, and strange behavior as they develop ever-greater followings— and look for any kind of connection. A perceptive and deftly constructed vision into the present-as-future where the internet has become synonymous with real life.
This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection
Dir. Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese
(2019, 120 mins., in Sotho with English subtitles)
In visual artist Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s contemporary fairy tale, lonely 80-year-old widow Mantoa prepares for death, saying farewell to acquaintances and loved ones, and getting her affairs in order—she’s done with earthly existence. But when her village—a small, tight-knit community—becomes threatened with relocation when the government announces a massive infrastructure project for their land, Mantoa gains a renewed lease on life. So she takes up the cause of resistance, protecting everything she holds dear, including the burial grounds of her entire family— meanwhile sparking a wave of resistance in the community. An incredible sensory experience featuring saturated visuals and an evocative, unique score, This is Not a Burial is a stunning entry into Mosese’s already-impressive filmography.
The World is Bright
Dir. Ying Wang
(2019, 110 mins., in English and Mandarin with English subtitles)
Made over the course of ten years, Ying Wang’s premiere feature tells the tragic story of the Deng family, who receive the sudden news that their son, Shi-Ming, who had immigrated to British Columbia, has committed suicide and been buried on Canadian soil. Riddled with questions as to what exactly transpired, Qian Hui Deng and his wife Xue Mei Li travel to Vancouver, where they spend years and money attempting to uncover the circumstances surrounding his death. Using re-enactments and interviews, Wang’s docu-thriller guides the viewer down a rabbit hole of mental illness, the crushing wheels of bureaucracy, and the vulnerability immigrants can face without cultural coping mechanisms.
The World is Full of Secrets
Dir. Graham Swon
(2019, 98 mins., in English)
A gothic film infused with the contemporary moment, Graham Swon’s debut feature could be described as a horror film without the horror, but rather a creeping feeling of inevitability, vulnerability, and dread. Taking place over a single night’s sleepover in an unnamed suburban hamlet, five young women recount a series of increasingly grisly stories that conjure the brutality of American society as it relates to their personal fears and experiences. Built from excellent lead performances, hypnotic narration, tight close-ups— faces, hands, candles, hair, newspaper clippings, other ephemera—and edited in an impressionistic style that prioritizes dream-logic and atmospheric dissolves, The World is Full of Secrets is an up-all-night enrapturing nightmare