The latest Oscar laureate: at Art Film Fest first!

From east to west and north to south, films from all across Europe will be on display at the nineteenth Art Film Fest, held from 17 to 25 June in Trenčianske Teplice and Trenčín. Its European Corner section will provide an overview of Europe’s manifold countries, languages, traditions and mentalities, a selection of powerful motion pictures whose success has resounded throughout Europe and abroad, winning illustrious awards such as the Oscar, the Golden Globe, San Sebastian’s Golden Shell and Venice’s Silver Lion.

As in previous years, European Corner is the festival’s most extensive section. No wonder, as European films are highly sought-out at all the highest-profile film festivals.

“Our selection features the work of experienced, respected masters, but we also draw attention to auspicious new talents. It’s an ideal symbiosis,” says the section’s coordinator, Art Film Fest director Peter Nágel.

For the first time in Slovak cinemas, the section will screen "In a Better World" (Hævnen), this year’s recipient of the world’s most prestigious awards – the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and a Golden Globe. Already nominated for a previous Oscar, the notable Danish director Susanne Bier presents a tale of two families whose fates are intertwined by the friendship of their two adolescent boys. Elias’s father works as a doctor in Africa as his marriage crumbles to pieces, and Elias himself is bullied in school. His self-appointed protector Christian just moved to town with his father, following his mother’s recent death. The film addresses ethical issues of vengeance and the violence associated with it, all over the backdrop of actual global conflicts.

With San Sebastian’s Golden Shell in tow, “NEDS”, the latest from distinguished British director and actor Peter Mullan, will also pay the festival a visit. Taking us back to 1970s England, this scathingly realistic drama focuses on a quiet, intelligent boy named John, who comes from a family with a less-than-ideal reputation. Butting against the firm wall of social prejudice, he begins to favour the school of the street over his formal education, and after a few years, he himself has become another hooligan gaining notoriety through the spread of fear and hatred.

The Last Circus“ (Balada triste de trompeta), from Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia, has earned awards such as the Silver Lion for Best Director and an Osella for Best Screenplay from the Venice FF.
In an analogy of Spain’s 1937 Civil War, the film features two clowns: Javier, the sad one, who falls in love with a beautiful acrobat, unfortunately in a relationship with Sergio, Javier’s authoritarian counterpart.

 A deadly contest over the acrobat’s heart plays out between the two clowns, who represent two competing influences in Spanish society – the violent autocracy of Franco’s regime versus playful innocence.

Renowned Hungarian director Béla Tarr will present "The Turin Horse" (A torinói ló), winner of the Berlinale’s Jury Grand Prix. This black-and-white film transports viewers to a severe windstorm on a remote farm, whose harsh conditions are home to an aging man and his adult daughter. “’The Turin Horse’ is about the heaviness of human existence. We just wanted to see how difficult and terrible it is when every day you have to go to the well and bring the water, in summer, in winter… All the time. The daily repetition of the same routine makes it possible to show that something is wrong with their world,” said the director about his film.

Speaking of great directors, the Best Director Award at last year’s Karlovy Vary IFF went to Rajko Grlić for his film "Just Between Us" (Neka ostane medju nama). Grlić studied at the Prague Academy of Arts’ Film and TV School, and has become one of Croatia’s most prominent filmmakers. Nikola, a fun-loving Zagrebian, is the hub of the film’s mosaic of relationships. Leavened by comedy but infused with bitter truth, the film asks: Is there anything positive about infidelity, or is it undeniably contemptuous? And does it matter whether it’s premeditated or spontaneous?

Another laureate of last year’s Venice FF, winner of the festival’s Grand Special Jury Prize comes to us from Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski: “Essential Killing”. The film tells the story of a Muslim soldier who is captured in the desert by US troops and brought to an unnamed European country. While travelling through an unfamiliar wintry landscape, he manages to escape, but to survive, he ends up having to destroy everything that crosses his path. “The political aspects of the situation didn’t interest me: to me politics is a dirty game and I don’t want to voice my opinions. What is important is that the man who runs away is returning to the state of a wild animal, who has to kill in order to survive. I don’t even say whether the film starts in Afghanistan, Iraq or maybe some other place…” explains the director. The starring performance of American actor Vincent Gallo, known for his independent film work, earned him a Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice FF.
For a very different kind of survival struggle, we turn to the German picture “Khodorkovsky” from director Cyril Tuschi. This feature-length documentary is the electrifying story of a man who has gone from being the richest Russian to Putin’s most famous prisoner: Mikhail Khodorkovsky. At the same time, it is also a story about the son of a Jewish father and the odyssey of an oligarch whose entrance into politics enraged Putin. The film features first-hand accounts from the families of Vladimir Putin, George  W. Bush and Khodorkovsky himself.

European Corner will also include recent films by even more famous directors, such as Tom Tykwer’s "Three" and Bent Hamer’s “Home for Christmas" (Hjem til jul).

The 19th Art Film Fest International Film Festival 2011 in Trenčianske Teplice and Trenčín is made possible by the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund.

Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., FORZA, a.s.

Co-organizers: The town of Trenčianske Teplice, the Trenčianske Teplice Spas

Main Sponsors: Tatra banka, Slovnaft, VUJE

Official Transport Provider: Lancia

Logistics Sponsor: DHL

Free student Cinepasses provided by: Prvá stavebná sporiteľňa (First Housing-Construction Savings Bank)

Sponsors: TIPOS, Ernst & Young, AVI studio, Cinemax

Official Supplier: HUBERT J.E.

Main Media Sponsors: Slovenská televízia, Rádio FM, Pravda,

Media Sponsors: JOJ Television, Central Europe Television, Kino CS, Muzika CS, Doku CS, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, .týždeň, Eurotelevízia, Pardon, OK!, Kam do mesta, Focus, Boomerang Media, SITA,, BlueSky

Sponsors: The City of Trenčín, the Embassy of Israel in Slovakia, the European Commission Representation in Slovakia, the Slovak Film Institute