15 from 15: European auteurist cinema is also of media interest (I)
ANCHOR AND HOPE (Carlos Marqués-Marcet, 2017)
What: The film that opened the Festival in 2017 talked about how the sentimental relationship between two women is rocked when one of them announces her firm decision to be a mother and when the other’s best male friend appears. Full of truth, 'Anchor and Hope' talked about those little matters that are the biggest: the immaturity of a generation without emotional supports, friendship, the day to day life of a couple and the results of not being at the same place in life. The film won the ASECAN award (Association of film writers of Andalusia).
Who: Carlos Marqués-Marcet, who made his debut with the surprising '10,000 Km.', or the definitive film about long distance relationships. The Catalan filmmaker had the same two leading actresses, accomplices forever: Oona Chaplin joined David Verdaguer and Natalia Tena in this second work, more luminous but coherent in form and content with his first film. Marqués-Marcet and Verdaguer repeat in the director’s third film, 'La bona espera'.
The director says: "I write about what I have around me, about things I’ve experienced, that I’ve seen, that I suppose concern me. The way of looking for the truth is perhaps a little different from the usual... And the truth in my films isn’t absolute, but it is mine".
THE GREAT BEAUTY (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)
What: The film that won the Gold Giraldillo in 2013 was much more than a hypnotic response, or an unconscious (or not) tribute to 'La Dolce Vita' by Fellini. A grotesque, melancholic portrait of the decadence of the Roman bourgeoisie, the film moved between sumptuous parties and social criticism. Toni Servillo won the Best Actor Award for his performance as the cynical freeloader Jep Gambardella. Among the proof of its popular repercussion, the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film.
Who: Paolo Sorrentino had already been to Seville with 'Il Divo' (2008), a portrait of the toxic relations between the Italian government and the mafia. Previously, the Neapolitan filmmaker had made 'The Consequences of Love' (2004) or 'The Family Friend' (2006). Then came 'Youth' (2015), the series 'The Young Pope' (2016) and the two instalments of 'Loro' (2018), about the figure of Silvio Berlusconi.
The director says: "The film is about the beauty of life, but also about those people who live frivolously in a city, Rome, that symbolises lost opportunities. My intention was to discover what hides behind that apparent impoverishment of Italy and express a poverty that is much more material".
3 BODAS DE MÁS (Javier Ruiz Caldera, 2013)
What: A side-splitting and very elegant film, a screwball comedy that opened the festival in 2013. From Howard Hawks to Judd Apatow, the inspiration is high in a crazy romantic comedy that is very respectful of its references. It follows the adventures of a nerd who looks for love while dealing with the invitations to the weddings of her three ex-boyfriends. Inma Cuesta, Quim Gutiérrez, Paco León, Berto Romero and Bárbara Santa-Cruz are in its wonderful cast.
Who: Javier Ruiz Caldera, renovator of the Spanish comedy from various prisms: with 'Spanish Movie' (2009) he tackled the most uncomplicated spoof, with 'Promoción Fantasma' (2011) he paid tribute to the films of John Hughes adding a likable fantastic touch, and with 'Anacleto: Agente secreto' (2015) and the imminent 'Super López' (2018) he put images to the Bruguera classics. The Barcelona filmmaker has just filmed the second episode in the series 'Mira lo que has hecho', along with his friend Berto Romero.
The director says: "References help you communicate with actors and technicians, although my films don’t resemble references like Apatow, Berlanga or, when he was being funny, Buñuel. But they help to make the comedies that I like as a spectator ".
SHAME (Steve McQueen, 2011)
What: The second feature film by the Londoner Steve McQueen carried off Seville’s awards for best director and best actor. A sordid look at addiction, shame, guilt and the impossibility of redemption from the perspective of two characters in emotional free fall. Cold asepsis takes over every step taken by the protagonist, a superb Michael Fassbinder, on his descent into hell.
Who: Steve McQueen, a multidisciplinary artist who after several short films moved into features with 'Hunger' (2008), a brutal portrayal of the hunger strike carried out to the end by a jailed IRA militant in Ireland in 1981. If 'Shame' won an award at the Venice Festival, his next film, 'Twelve Years of Slavery’ (2013) won the Oscar for Best Film. He already has a new film under his arm: 'Widows', with Viola Davis and Liam Neeson.
The director says: "It’s a political film about a free man, and about how the excess of freedom can finally imprison him. Here, that prison is sex, but it’s something that can be applied to any other addiction, like drugs or gambling. The protagonist, after all, isn’t so far from most of us ".
IN A BETTER WORLD (Susanne Bier, 2010)
What: The Oscar and the Golden Globe prove the international importance of this Danish film, and the wide thematic and formal range of the Seville Festival which awarded its script and direction. Teaching and values, Susanne Bier’s firm line in a powerful drama that rejects violence as the solution to anything, and that, in its ambitious plot, reflects on revenge and forgiveness, and on the contrast between the comfortable well-being of rich Europe and the drama of the African refugee camps.
Who: Susanne Bier, whose work has transcended Danish cinema to jump to English speaking productions such as the British series ‘The Night Manager’ (2016) or the Hollywood productions 'Things We Lost in the Fire' (2007), 'Serena' (2014) or the recently completed 'Bird Box' (2018).
The director says: "The film is not just a reflection of the fragility of Scandinavian society, it also acts as the background to show how easy it is for things to disintegrate. We are immune to chaos or we stagger on the edge of the abyss of disorder, far removed from reality. I want the spectators to talk and discuss violence and forgiveness "
FISH TANK (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
What: The identity crisis or the emotional volatility of an adolescent acts as a vehicle for a social portrait, or vice-versa, in the second feature by Andrea Arnold. The powerful acting by Katie Jarvie and a Michael Fassbender who was not yet a star is at the service of a film that, far removed from any Manichaeism, focuses on the female world and working class context of its protagonists, and presents serious moral doubts for the spectator.
Who: The British director Andrea Arnold, a good portrayer of directionless characters and oppressive social surroundings in a large part of her filmography, stripped of any artifice. She made her debut in 2006 with 'Red Road' and has directed two other feature films, 'Wuthering Heights' (2011) and 'American Honey' (2017), along with several episodes for such prestigious series as 'I Love Dick', 'Transparent' or 'Big Little Lies'.
The director says: "I let my characters live, I don’t judge them. And I’m very interested in adolescence, that vital moment full of doubts when one is neither a child nor an adult”.
IN THE LOOP (Armando Iannucci, 2009)
What: A vitriolic political satire about the shady dealings by the Americans and the British to justify a war because of the (supposed) threat of weapons of mass destruction about which no one has any proof. Frenzied, merciless with the bungling of politicians, the film spares no one, inspired by both Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and Sorkin’s “West Wing’.
Who: After renewing British humour on the radio ('On the Hour') and on television ('The Day Today', 'The Armando Iannucci Show'), the Scot Armando Iannucci has put politics in his corrosive sights as a creator. Not only in 'In the Loop', which returned to the world of his own BBC series 'The Thick of It', but also in another television production 'Veep', for HBO, and in 'The Death of Stalin' (2017). He has just finished shooting 'The Personal History of David Copperfield', based on the novel by Dickens.
The director says: "I start wondering if, given the way the world is, there’s any sense in doing political satire. One of its big problems is that satire has become the substitute for anger and protest".
GOMORRA (Matteo Garrone, 2008)
What: The adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s homonymous novel which forced the writer to live under protection because of the death threats he received after putting names to the violence of the Neapolitan camorra. Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival, the film uses non-professional actors to give the crude portrait of a reality without artifice, dirty and demystifying, and without morals. Who: Matteo Garrone, from Rome, trained as a documentary maker. His career has moved between the realism of 'Terra di mezzo' (1996) or 'Guests' (1998) and the fantasy of 'Tale of Tales' (2015). About to release 'Dogman' (2018), he is preparing a new version of 'Pinocchio'.
The director says: "I wanted to transmit the smell, the spirit of that reality. In Italy we’re tired of the folksy image of the criminality and power of businessmen that fiction usually offers ".