The International Competition of Feature Films has long been Art Film Fest’s centrepiece. The festival’s upcoming 21st edition, running from 21 to 26 June in Trenčianske Teplice and Trenčín, will pit the debuts of talented directors against each other, works that have already racked up awards and applause at world-class festivals like Cannes, Sundance and the Berlinale. A total of 11 films will compete for the festival trophy – the Blue Angel.
Peter Nágel, Art Film Fest’s director and programmer of the main competition, has managed to acquire two titles freshly awarded at the prestigious Cannes IFF.
Amat Escalante’s crime drama Heli, a story of two lovers that reflects the horrifying reality of today’s Mexico, earned the filmmaker Cannes’s Best Director award. “My characters suffer violent acts, and as a result find themselves under tension. I show extreme situations. In Mexico, everyone lives with a kind of fear in their gut. Violence is a reality at every moment even if it doesn’t affect you directly,” says the young director.
The section’s second Mexican picture La jaula de oro was premiered at Cannes and immediately bestowed with the A Certain Talent award for its young amateur cast.
The brutal Central American tale follows the long and arduous journey of three teenagers from the Guatemalan slums to the USA in pursuit of a better life.
“The fundamental goal of this project is to convey the migrants’ story in a way that others will feel intuitively. Using the testimonies of hundreds of migrants, we created an Odyssean tale. Families are separated, babies torn from their mothers’ arms, children beaten and tortured while being deported. And thousands of people whose only crime is crossing this absurd border are imprisoned,” says director Diego Quemada-Diez.
After a year of absence, Slovakia will return to the cinematic fray with Mira Fornay’s My Dog Killer, a portrait of young skinhead Marek. The film was the first-ever Slovak title to win Rotterdam’s prestigious Tiger Award. “For me, aside from the main theme of racism, this is a film about the struggle for survival and belonging. The film’s main driving emotion is shame, which subtly influences the introverted protagonist…It’s this very shame that is the absurd foundation of racism,” says the director.
Internationally premiered at Sundance, the Austrian film Soldier Jane will arrive at Art Film Fest with Rotterdam’s first-place Hivos Tiger Award in tow. “It’s about two women who rise up against all odds of everyday life…They face what seems forgotten: Don’t do what you don’t want to do!" explains director Daniel Hoesl.
Other prestigious prizewinners will include the Afghan family drama Wajma: An Afghan Love Story, recipient of the Screenwriting Award at the USA’s Sundance, the most famous festival of independent film. “Based on stories I’ve heard and people I met, I wrote this screenplay and produced this movie by myself, which is very important to me. From Afghanistan we only know the war. I wanted to show the young people’s life, and their love stories,” says director Barmak Akram, who has fought for women’s rights himself and been subjected to police interrogation.
The competition will also feature a title named Best Nordic Film at the Göteborg IFF: Before Snowfall. The unconventional road movie follows a young Kurd forced to make a dangerous journey to preserve his family’s honour, taking him from Iraq through Germany and all the way to Norway, where the he faces the fateful challenges that arise from the clash of traditional culture with modern Western life.
Another section highlight is Harmony Lessons, the first-ever Kazakh film selected for the Berlinale’s main competition, where it won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution. The story of a boy who risks his own downfall to resist violence is a protest against the growing brutality of public life.
Art Film Fest 2013 – the 21st International Trenčianske Teplice/Trenčín Film Festival
The festival is held under the auspices of Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic Robert Fico.
Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., FORZA, a.s.
Co-organizers: The Town of Trenčianske Teplice, the City of Trenčín, Kúpele Trenčianske Teplice
Financial support: The Audiovisual Fund
General Sponsor: KOOPERATIVA poisťovňa, Vienna Insurance Group TIPOS
Main Sponsors: Dr. Max, SYNOT TIP, TEMPEST, SLOVNAFT, AquaCity Poprad, Pow-en
Official Transport Provider: Hyundai
Logistics Sponsor: DHL
Student cinepasses for only €5 provided by: Prvá stavebná sporiteľňa
Sponsors: PPC Power, Slovak Telekom, AVI Studio, Barzzuz, Hydrotour travel agency
Official Suppliers: Anext, Moët, ad one, Toshiba, Zlatý Bažant beer, Dendra, tuli, Relax, euro Print Hall
Main Media Sponsors: Slovak Radio and Television, Rádio FM, Pravda
Media Sponsors: Film Europe Channel, Central Europe Television, Rádio Europa 2, zoznam.sk, rozhovory.sk, Eurotelevízia, Pardon, OK!, Kam do mesta, Slovak Lines, GONG SK, SITA News Agency, BigMedia, moviemania.sk, filmneweurope.com
Sponsors: The European Commission Representation in Slovakia, the Embassy of the United States of America in Bratislava, the Trenčín Self-governing Region, the Slovak Film Institute, the Slovak Tourist Board, CzechTourism, Character – Film Development Association, the Italian Cultural Institute in Bratislava, the Embassy of Italy in Bratislava, the Polish Institute in Bratislava, in film, the Hungarian Institute in Bratislava, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain, the Swedish Embassy in Vienna, the Embassy of Finland in Bratislava, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Prague, Považský cukor, Europe’s Finest, Hotel Flóra, AutoCont, Contest, Esterle&Esterle, Kinoservis, Cinemax, lampART, Kursalon Trenčianske Teplice, spicybrown