Films Awarded at Berlin, Venice and Locarno To Compete At 17th Annual Art Film Fest

“Young filmmakers and up-and-coming auteurs may be every film festival’s most sought-after and prized asset, and Art Film Fest doesn’t want to miss out either.  On the contrary, in the upcoming 17th edition we have decided to broaden the festival program’s main section, highlighting the diversity of contemporary film talent more than ever before,” said Peter Nágel, Program Director and coordinator of the Competition of Feature Films.
The Blue Angel – the festival’s coveted grand prize – will be vied for by filmmakers on their first, second or third films.  The winner, who will receive a monetary prize of fifteen-thousand euros, will be once again determined by an international jury, whose makeup is currently being discussed.  “I am convinced that the future of the film world will make its presence felt at our festival,” said Nágel. The competition’s selection will certainly not overlook the increasingly sought-after and successful cinema of Romania, which will be represented by the film The Happiest Girl in the World, bestowed with the C.I.C.A.E. award at this year’s festival in Berlin.
What kind of desires and delusions can money incite in a person?  And what kind of dreams does a girl from the Romanian countryside have?  Director Radu Jude focuses his camera’s lens on a girl who wins an automobile in the lottery, and as the winner, has to appear in a commercial spot.  The hope that the consumer world can change a provincial girl in present-day Romania to the happiest girl in the world is but a pipe dream. Another competing film is set in Romania: Pa-ra-da from director Marco Pontecorvo.  It tells the true story of the Franco-Algerian clown Miloud Oukili, who brought hope to the lives of Romanian street children living among the sewers.  The clown finds himself in Bucharest three years after the fall of Ceausescu’s dictatorship and finds children in the streets nicknamed “boskettari”.  They eke out a living through theft, begging and prostitution, marred by beatings, paedophilia and drugs.  In spite of all these obstacles, the clown manages to form a circus troupe. And the children of the street prove to the world that they are human beings, too.  “Parada” is the title of the circus troupe that to this day tours Europe with its performances. “I first saw an article on it in 2001 and I became interested. Then I went to Bucharest and met with Miloud and we went around to the places where the sewer kids had lived. I felt I needed to see all that for me to get an idea of what I wanted to do in the movie.  These children’s story is tragic, but richly human and beautiful as well,” explained the director, who for this feature debut received the Pasinetti Award at Venice 2008 and the Audience Award at Mar del Plata Film Festival in Argentina. Best Asian film.  Bearing this label, the South Korean picture Treeless Mountain will pay Art Film Fest a visit.  It is about young girls whose days of childhood innocence are brought to an end by the lies of adults, and who touchingly try to find their place in the world, which is not exactly ideal for children.
The story, inspired by director So Yong Kim’s childhood, tells of two little sisters whose mother disappears to America and who have to be looked after by their aunt – an alcoholic.  To make a living the sisters catch bush-crickets, which they roast and sell.  Free from sentimentality, the auteur managed to create a world where the viewer bears witness to the crime of negligence towards children.
For this, her second feature film, the director garnered the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury from the Berlinale, as well as recognition as Best Film at Dubai. We are then whisked away to southern Asia with the film Machan.  This directorial debut of Italian Uberto Pasolini was granted two prizes at last year’s festival in Venice.
It relays the tale of a barman and a fruit vendor, who in everyday Asian reality struggle for survival, and have a great dream: to live in the wonderful Western world.  One day they cross paths with the chance to start a new life.  They get themselves invited to a handball tournament in Germany. Though neither of them has any idea what kind of sport it is, they regard it as a gift from God.  Step by step, they manage to organize the incredible Sri Lanka National Handball Team.
“[Asylum seekers], now referred to as "bogus refugees" or “illegal immigrants”, are the target on one hand of short-sighted immigration policies and on the other of the greed of international human traffickers,” clarified the director. Having premiered at Venice, the Finnish-German-Estonian co-production The Visitor will arrive at Art Film Fest with the prize for best film from Göteborg in tow.
Director Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää depicts the stereotypical life of a boy who lives with his mother deep in a forest in the remote Finnish countryside.  The boy’s father is in prison, and his only companion is an untameable stallion.  This repetitive life cycle is disturbed by the arrival of a stranger (portrayed by renowned Czech actor Pavel Liška), who appears with a letter from the boy’s father and a gunshot wound in his side. “I wanted to make a film that leaves room for a personal viewer experience and allows each viewer to uncover their own secret,” explained the director. Art Film Fest will also feature a picture decorated with the Golden Leopard from Locarno 2008 in addition to 14 other international prizes.  The Mexican film Parque vía, from director Enrique Rivero, is about an elderly man who looks after a luxurious vacant house in a big city.  His lonely life is limited to the landlady’s occasional visits and weekly meetings with a prostitute.  In addition to the tragedy of this individual fate, the film shows the social rift in modern Mexico and draws attention to the gap between the rich and the poor. The film, based on the real life story of Nolberto Coria, the main character, combines aspects of documentary and fiction. Prizes for best film, best actors and the critics’ FIPRESCI prize have been granted to the Croatian film from director Goran Rušinović, Buick Riviera, about two Bosnian immigrants.
During the war in Sarajevo, they belonged to different religious denominations.  But when they meet one fateful night and spend the following twenty-four hours together, they are bound by an inexplicable force.  They enter a psychological game of mutual accusation that changes their lives permanently, as does the war and its aftermath which they both ran away from. Peter Strickland’s feature debut, Katalin Varga, was given an award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the Berlinale and the Grand Prize from the Copenhagen International Film Festival.
Katalin Varga’s husband discovers that he is not his son’s father and drives her out of the house.  She sets off on a journey through the Carpathians with her son, with the goal of finding his real father.  For Katalin, that means returning to the scene of a crime she was the victim of eleven years before – where she was raped by two men.  This simple story about a defiled woman’s odyssey of revenge is set in modern-day Transylvania, but filled with symbols that evoke the origins of storytelling. Among the other awarded films featured in Art Film Fest’s main competition is the powerful existential drama about an inseparable pair of girls and their doggy, Wendy and Lucy.  American director Kelly Reichardt premiered her film at last year’s Cannes, confirming her excellent reputation. Unearthly powers and the reality of mafia intrigue meet in the film Native Dancer, which is set in the arid steppe of Kazakhstan, where director Guka Omarova conjures up the mysticism of fantasy and the suspense of gangster films. ———————————————————————————————————– Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., FORZA Production House  
Co-Organizers: the Town of Trenčianske Teplice, the Town of Trenčín, Health Spa Trenčianske Teplice Main Media Sponsors: Slovenská televízia, Slovenský rozhlas, Pravda, 
Media Sponsors: televízia Markíza, FilmBox, Televízia Central, Rádio Okey, Rádio FM, Rádio Regina, Rádio GO Dee Jay, Rádio Hit FM, týždenník Markíza, Žurnál, Pardon, Trenčianske Echo, Kam do mesta,,, SITA, ISPA, Q-EX