13 films in the running for Art Film Fest’s Blue Angel

Art Film Fest’s International Competition of Feature Films presents the latest works of world-class filmmakers. Their films vie for Blue Angels in four different categories – Best Film, Best Director, Best Female Performance and Best Male Performance. Between 15 and 23 June 2018, Košice’s cinemas will be screening a total of 13 in-competition titles.

Customs agent Lara and African immigrant Adja’s paths first cross at an Icelandic airport, later in a small town. Despite their cultural differences and uncertain goals in life, an unusual bond forms between the two. Presenting a clear-eyed perspective on the local social impacts of the refugee crisis, And Breathe Normally (Andið eðlilega, 2018) is coming to Košice with Sundance’s Directing Award in tow.

What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si, 2017) is the coming-of-age tale of 16-year-old Nisha. The Oslo-born daughter of Pakistani immigrants lives a double life – by day she is her parents’ modest daughter; by night she paints the town red with her friends. But when her father discovers her charade, he makes a drastic decision to protect her from life’s dangers.

In Butterflies (Kelebekler, 2018), a trio of Turkish siblings set out on a bizarre journey to their native village to see their father. Upon arriving, the frustrated astronaut with no practical experience, sickly voice actor and mentally unstable teacher learn that their father has just passed away, leaving a dying wish concerning his funeral. Their encounters with bizarre representatives of the village community are peppered with black humour and the occasional exploding chicken. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

The gritty, yet enchanting When the Trees Fall (Koly padajut dereva, 2018) tells the story of Larysa, who lives in an old-world village idyll, one which she would gladly escape from. Ideally with her beloved Scar. He, however, gets mixed up with the criminal underworld. Then there is little Vitka, who rejects he predetermined upbringing and sets adrift into the dreams and surreal images of her personal fantasy world.

The delicate, moving Land (2018) chronicles the hardships of a Native American family from the Prairie Wolf reservation after their youngest son is killed in action in Afghanistan. From that point on they find themselves confronted with the US government’s absurd set of rules regarding the repatriation of his body, eventually coming to realize what is truly important to them and their tribe.

The Polish film Nina (2018) is a portrait of a strong yet confused woman trapped somewhere between the roles of wife and daughter. Nina and her husband Wojtek’s attempts to have a child have failed, and their 20-year-long marriage is going nowhere. When they meet a young woman, Magda, they decide to propose that she become a surrogate mother for their child. But things get complicated when Nina grows attracted to the free-thinking Magda.

The Last Self-Portrait (2018) is Slovak documentarian Marek Kuboš’s latest film, an unconventional act of self-reflection. Using his finished but unreleased work, he presents a singular, honest confession about why he is considering ending his film career. For answers to his less-than-simple questions, he looks to fellow filmmakers, as well as to figures outside his field.

Gripping psychological thriller The Guilty (Den Skyldige, 2018) unfolds in real time, using a handful of actors, a simple setting and an ingenious script to create an effect of constantly escalating tension. At a Copenhagen police station, officer Asger is working the night shift, handling calls with evident disinterest – until he receives one from a young woman who, in a panic, says she has been kidnapped. The film captivated audiences at Sundance and Rotterdam, where it won the Audience Award.

Soldiers. Story from Ferentari (Soldati. Poveste din Ferentari, 2017) is the story of an odd couple – the introverted anthropologist Ali and the Roma ex-con Alberto, who meet in Ferentari, one of Bucharest’s poorest neighbourhoods. Ali intends to write a paper on the musical genre manele, a facet of local culture dominated by the mafia. Alberto wants to help the young man, but their romance complicates everything.

Fresh from its successful premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, The Load (Teret, 2018) is based on shocking recent history. In 1999, during the NATO bombing campaign of Serbia, lorry driver Vlada has to travel from Kosovo to Belgrade carrying an unidentified consignment. As he moves through the dismal landscape, he realizes that he will have to reckon with the consequences of his actions when the war ends.

The protagonist of Oblivion Verses (Los Versos del Olvido, 2017) is the elderly caretaker of a remote mortuary. Following nearby civil unrest, he discovers the body of an unidentified young woman, and despite imminent danger, he embarks on a magical odyssey, intent on giving her a proper burial. Upon its premiere at Venice, the film was honoured with the Best Screenplay award and the FIPRESCI Prize.

At Cannes this year, international critics gave the FIPRESCI Award for best debut to the film One Day (Egy nap, 2018). 40-something Anna’s life is a juggling act of responsibilities – the household, her job, dealing with financial woes… But she almost never sees her husband. She sees that she’s losing him, while also realizing that she can’t always predict the future.

The poetic tale Crush My Heart (Zerchlag mein Herz, 2018) is reminiscent of a lucid dream. In the outskirts of Vienna, Roma mafia man Rocky rules his “family” with an iron fist. He son Pepe falls in love with Slovak girl Marcela, who comes to work off her father’s debt. But instead of accepting her into his “family”, Rocky has something altogether different in mind for her. Screened in its world premiere, Crush My Heart is the debut film of Košice-born Austrian director Alexandra Makarová.

The 26th Art Film Fest is being held in Košice from 15 to 23 June 2018. The full programme, as well as the opportunity to reserve seats at screenings via the MyCinepass system, can be found at the festival website.

Organizers: ART FILM FEST s.r.o., FORZA, a.s.
Co-organizers: The City of Košice, K13, the Košice Self-governing Region
The festival is held under the auspices of the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic.
Financial support: The Audiovisual Fund
The festival is made possible by the financial support of the Košice Self-governing Region.

General sponsor: Slovenská elektrizačná prenosová sústava, a.s.

Main partners: Tipos; Transpetrol; Východoslovenská energetika – a member of Innogy; Slovnaft; Nadácia SPP
Official festival automobile: MOTOR – CAR Košice, Official festival hotel: Hotel Yasmin
Festival logistics partner: DHL Express Slovakia, Official festival transport provider: Czech Airlines
Sponsors: NOVIS Insurance Company, Slovak Business Agency, Keramon, Kino Úsmev, Tabačka Kulturfabrik, Železničná spoločnosť Slovensko, Aupark, Pan-European University, Film Europe Media Company, Omnia 2000, Omnia KLF, Omnia Holding SE, LGM, CPK Slovakia
Official suppliers: Barzzuz, Pilsner Urquell, NOV s.r.o. Zebra, Tuli, Lyvina, Grand Bari Budiš
Main media partners: TVJOJ, Kinosála, JOJ Cinema, Nový Čas, Aktuality.sk
Media partners: Československo Channel, Festival Cinema Channel, Rádio Expres, Rádio Košice, SME, Korzár, Forbes, Kam do mesta, webnoviny.sk, Bigmedia, Home media, Codes, Košice City Guide, Film.sk, www.kinecko.com
Partners: Autocont, Pension Horse Inn, Teledom, Carpano, KPK Reklama, Podnikateľka Slovenska, Košice Region Tourism, Sli.do, Slovak Film Institute, Esterle&Esterle, Kinoservis, NeoDCP, EKKL, Mihyring – motoristický areál, ElevArt, Ministry of Transport of the Slovak Republic, Visit Košice, BigON, ECOHolding, GOSH