Among them are those such as the American film The Burning Plain, Guillermo Arriaga’s directorial debut. This Mexican author and screenwriter shot the film, his first feature-length work, at fifty years of age, having written the screenplay as well. To date he is most frequently associated with the films of director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who the screenwriter collaborated with on the pictures Babel, 21 Grams and Amores perros. He received a number of awards for his work on these films, culminating in an Oscar nomination for Babel. At Venice 2008 his debut film was nominated for the Golden Lion, and actress Jennifer Lawrence received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for her performance. Like the other films mentioned, the drama The Burning Plain connects several disparate stories of disconnected people, separated by time and space. We get to know Mariana and Santiago, two teenagers struggling to reassemble their parents’ shattered lives; Sylvia, who has to finally free herself of her past; little Maria, who follows her parents on the road to redemption; and Gina and Nick, a couple whose relationship is up against a major obstacle. Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger shine in the starring roles.
From an utterly different world comes the romantic tragicomedy I Love You Phillip Morris, with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. It was premiered last year at the Sundance festival, and its most talked-about feature has been Jim Carrey’s performance, one of his best roles yet. In equal measure, he combines the comedic approach he is so well-known for with slightly more sombre undertones. As Variety magazine writes: “Jim Carrey in his most complicated comedic role … will leave [audiences] both laughing and stunned.” What’s it about? Steven (Carrey) is an unhappy married man, working as a small-town police officer, until one car accident radically changes everything. He realizes that he is gay, and decides to delve all-out into his newly-discovered life. Among the costs is that as a conman, he breaks the law and suffers all the consequences. In prison he meets the sensitive introvert Philip Morris (McGregor), and decides to do everything in his power to allow them to someday live happily and free.
The theme of homosexuality, albeit viewed from a totally different angle, is also addressed by A Single Man, famed fashion designer Tom Ford’s film debut. The film caused an international sensation at last year’s Venice festival due to its director and the starring performance of actor Colin Firth, who was awarded the Volpi Cup, and later received such honours as an Oscar nomination, a BAFTA award and a Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award. A Single Man has racked up several awards, along with nominations for best film and director at the Independent Spirit Awards and a best actress Golden Globe nomination for Julianne Moore. As an American fashion designer, Tom Ford has had tremendous success with the Gucci brand and collaborated with Yves Saint Laurent, among others, and when he founded his own brand four years ago, he began outfitting the film industry’s most illustrious men, including Daniel Craig as James Bond in Quantum of Solace. In his film debut, he paints the portrait of a 1960s professor of English (Firth) who comes to a turning point in his life when an accident robs him of his long-term partner, and he realises that the rest of his life doesn’t matter much to him…
A truly extraordinary experience awaits audiences with the unique post-apocalyptic drama The Road. This is a film about how a single moment can fundamentally change the structure of the entire world. It is based on author Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, which won him the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. Incidentally, another film based on a McCarthy novel graced cinemas rather recently – No Country for Old Men, filmed by the Coen Brothers and awarded with four Oscars. The Road is set in America, but it could be anywhere on Earth. The sky is dark, everything else is grey, ash wafts through the air, and it is cold winter. A father and son trek through the country southward, where they hope it will be better somehow. But all manner of things awaits them on their journey, including people who have lost all inhibitions and survive through cannibalism… The film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smith-McPhee, chosen for the boy’s role from among several hundred candidates. Other roles feature Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. The film’s cinematography earned it a San Diego Film Critics Society Award a nomination for the BAFTA award. The theme of war and its destructive influence on the individual is treated in the Japanese anti-war film Caterpillar. The film is set during the war in 1940. A war hero – a decorated soldier who has lost his arms and legs – returns home to his small village. Now it is up to his wife Shigeko to show her loyalty to the emperor and take care of her husband, who has been left a physical and mental wreck. At this year’s Berlinale, Caterpillar’s Shinobu Terajimu received the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Actress, and its director Kôji Wakamatsu was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear. Life’s serious questions are also dealt with in a breezier, more comedic spirit by the latest films from the Coen Brothers, Woody Allen and Todd Solondz. A Serious Man (d. J. and E. Coen) tells the woeful tale of a Jewish physics teacher who tries to find some sort of certainty in his bizarre mess of a life. The film was nominated for Oscars for Best Film and Original Screenplay. In his film Whatever Works, Woody Allen scrutinises the aging New Yorker Boris, whose life becomes entangled with a young runaway girl. And audiences will come to understand a young fatherless boy’s relationship with democracy in Todd Solondz’s distinctive tragicomedic drama Life During Wartime. Visitors will have the opportunity to see these titles and even more in the section Around the World at the 18th annual Art Film Fest.
The Art Film Fest International Film Festival – Trenčianske Teplice/Trenčín is made possible through the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund and the European Union Programme MEDIA. Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., Forza, a.s.
Co-organizers: The Town of Trenčianske Teplice, the City of Trenčín, the Trenčianske Teplice Health Spa
Media Sponsors: Slovenská televízia, televízia Markíza, FilmBox, Televízia Central, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, Pravda, .týždeň, Markíza, Pardon, Cinemax, Kam do mesta, zoznam.sk, ISPA, SITA, Q-EX, Boomerang Media