Twenty films from Serbia, France, USA, Iran, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Australia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Northern Macedonia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Denmark and Columbia are competing for the Belgrade Victor and other awards in the Main Programme this year. ‘What certainly does not dominate these exceptional films is optimism, but even if it can be felt, it is the product of unfounded hopes and belief that everything will turn out well in the end. The heroes in the films of the 48th FEST Main Programme are people most often of strange destinies whose future only somewhat depends upon themselves. Accustomed to the wide variety of social and family, that is to say traditional constraints, film heroes are predominantly turned to the evolutionary life changes for the sake of achieving the ultimate goal, which is usually not achieved.’, said the Artistic Director of FEST, Jugoslav Pantelic.
One such film, in which the goal is not achieved, is Just 6.5, an Iranian film directed by Saeed Roustayi, which follows Samad, a member of Anti-Narcotics Police Task Force, in a city full of drug addicts. A top-notch Iranian drug dealer film, an exciting thriller at the same time, but also a harsh criticism of broader social issues. The most watched Iranian film (which is not a comedy) in the history of this country.
By contrast, the Australian film Babyteeth, directed by Shannon Murphy, also addresses the issue of drugs, but in a much less cruel way, since it is a comedy. The main character is Mila, a seriously ill teenage girl who falls in love with a smalltime drug dealer, to the despair of her parents. She shows everyone around what life is like when you have nothing to lose. The film was screened in the competition programme of the Venice Film Festival.
Last year's festival in Locarno was opened by the debut film of the Italian director Ginevra Elkann - If Only. Critics call it a true crowd-pleaser film - an unexpectedly entertaining, easy, and sentimental divorce story told through the perspective of a six-year-old girl.
Another feature that penetrates deeply into the structure of the family is Queen of Hearts (Dronningen), an erotic drama directed by May el-Toukhy. The protagonist is Anna, a brilliant and dedicated lawyer who leads a seemingly perfect life with her husband and their twin daughters. When her estranged stepson comes to live with them, an escalating desire puts Anna in a dangerous situation and triggers a series of events that threaten to destroy her world. The film, starring the famous Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, won the Audience Award for Best International Drama at Sundance.
The destruction of the existing and the creation of a new world is a theme that is covered in the comedy Defunct (Apostratos), by Greek director Zacharias Mavroeidis, in which Aris, an unsuccessful businessman in his thirties, finds shelter in the home of his grandfather, a long-deceased World War II veteran. When he starts seeing his old friends again, life in the conservative suburb inhabited by generals turns into a desirable new beginning.
Another film referring to the specific family in a broader context is Monos, the most successful Colombian film of the last year, directed by Alejandro Landes and Alexis Dos Santos. This feature follows eight guerrilla teenagers living in an abandoned bunker in a South American country, and is described by critics as a psychedelic thriller combining Apocalypse Now and Lord of the Flies. It has been shown in Berlin and at Sundance, where it won a special jury prize.
There are two Serbian films in the Main Competition Programme - the long awaited second feature by Mladen Djordjevic, Vienna Hallways, and Father by Srdan Golubovic. Father will open FEST, right after the world premiere at Berlinale.
Well-known names await us from the region such as Milcho Manchevski and his new film Willow, award-winning Slovenian director Damjan Kozole with his drama Half-Sister, criticism of the Catholic Church in the feature The Voice by Ognjen Sviličić, and debut psychological drama Matriarch by Jure Pavlovic.