The 45th FEST once again presents an exciting film selection within the Frontiers Programme, which was established under the leadership of the selector and director Mladen Đorđević a few years ago. This fresh, bold and original programme already has its loyal audience and its significance as a part of an important festival with a long tradition such as FEST is reflected in the fact that it offers the widest variety of films attracting the most diverse cinema audiences.
This year’s Frontiers Programme includes several new films coming from important directors, which we all eagerly await. One of those films is most certainly the documentary film “Safari” by controversial Austrian director Ulrich Seidl. The director turns a spotlight on African Safaris in this documentary, zooming in on white middle-class tourists hunting animals for fun. Building the film from his trademark eccentric tableaux and interviews, Seidl documents disturbing sequences on the hunt. This director proves once again that he possesses the amazing ability to expose the darkest side of human nature, lying behind Safari's beautiful compositional tableaux and darkly humorous moments. Another important director we must mention is Chan-wook Park from South Korea, who returns to his home country to shoot one of his most ambitious productions to date. Inspired by Sarah Waters’ crime novel "Fingersmith", "The Handmaiden" is an erotic psychological thriller, set in the turbulent thirties in Korea under Japanese occupation.
What is interesting about this year’s programme is that it contains two films made by director duos. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert have carved out a good reputation for themselves in the world of advertising and music videos. After making several shorts, they now debut in feature film with “Swiss Army Man”, characterized by their distinctive sense of humour that can also be found in their previous work. This witty, dark and authentic approach to the film story is undoubtedly sufficiently clear after reading a brief description: A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island “befriends” a dead body. Another film backed by two directors is "Roko", a documentary about one of the greatest figures in the porn industry, a living legend, Roku Sifredi. After working together on commercials and music videos, Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai co-directed documentaries for French main television channels as well as films about unknown subjects. “Roko” is their third feature documentary about a man who has explored every fantasy of the human soul over the course of his thirty years in profession, lending himself to its wildest transgressions. However, the time has come for this iconic figure of sex to hang up his gloves. For the last scene of his career, Rocco has chosen this documentary.
The third documentary film within the Frontiers Selection is Federica Di Giacomo’s “Liberami”, which won the Horizons competition at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival. This Italian director and screenwriter’s third film is the story about the practice of exorcism and people’s issues of everyday life: the contrasts between ancient traditions and modern habits, between sacred and profane, meet in this astonishing documentary and reveal themselves disturbing and hilarious at the same time. The film is not about religion, but about how religion can be experienced.
Another film in this programme is the award-winning feature debut of a young Polish director Agnieszka Smoczyńska, “The Lure”. The film tells the story of two famished heart-eating sisters sirens Golden and Silver who emerge from the sea in search of prey. A poetic and visually extravagant exploration of femininity and girlhood is steeped in a vibrant, magical atmosphere that veers from the carnivalesque to the kink-spiked carnal. Another feature debut in the Frontiers Selection, “Under the Shadow”, comes from director and screenwriter Babak Anvari from The United Kingdom. It is a tense and horrifying story about a mother and daughter who are haunted by a mysterious evil in war-torn Tehran in the 1980s. The last directorial debut in the Selection is the film "We are meat" by the interdisciplinary Mexican artist Emiliano Rocha Minter. The film tells the story of an old man Mariano, who is obsessed with the idea of transforming his home into a cave-like womb. He spends his lonely days drinking, until one day his brother and sister stray into his lair. He soon begins to develop disturbing sexual relationship with them, and dark and destructive instincts emerge.