The Magnificent 7 of the Semaine
Semaine de la critique
Long lines outside the Kursaal and L'altra Sala, different stories that showcase the many shapes of the documentary, the most fertile cinematic ground of the last few years. This, and much more, is Locarno’s Semaine de la critique. General delegate Stéphane Gobbo is well aware of this, much like those who preceded him at the head of this section that focuses entirely on the cinema of reality, finding its new tendencies, territories and most talented names ahead of everyone else. For instance, Polish cinema, which has gone as far as winning Oscars, was last year’s winner and returns this year with two films. As always, seven feature-length films will be tested in front of an affectionate, knowledgeable, loyal and demanding audience.
As always, we find ourselves facing versatile creativity, different inspirations, pathways crossing, experiences that come true on the screen and are the result of special encounters. In a world that is no longer closed in on itself, we can see a film shot by a Swiss in Central Africa, a Dutchman in Tunisia and a Pole in Thailand. Cahier africain, born from the courage and strength of director Heidi Specogna, opens the book – literally – on the violence through which Jean-Pierre Bemba – leader of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo in 2002 – massacred his own country, on his prison sentence and, in between, on a new civil war. It’s an incredible story that required seven years’ worth of work. Another tale of transition and war, albeit internal, is Bezness as Usual, the autobiography, in documentary form, of director Alex Pitstra, formerly Karim Alexander Ben Hassen. His arrival in Tunisia is a return to the past, in order to know it properly, beyond the words of a mother who raised him alone. Monk of the Sea places Polish filmmaker Rafał Skalski opposite the shadow line of a young man in Thailand. Ball, who leads a lively and dissolute existence, decides to look for a maturation during his two-week stay in a monastery. The director stands aside, observing the contradictions and amusing discrepancies between modernity and Buddhist immutability, with the monastery becoming a place of life, change and even unique cinema. The profound sense of journey is perhaps the connective tissue between these three films and Zavtra more (Sea Tomorrow), which looks upon another monumental transition, that of Lake Aral which turns from an inland sea into a salt lake, with a moon-like landscape straight out of dystopian science fiction to prop up an apocalyptic vista. Director Katerina Suvorova travels it looking for details, situations, and little moments of humanity. Water is also the protagonist of El Remolino, but in this case the wrong choices have caused the flooding of filmmaker Laura Herrero Garvín’s village. She, too, looks for flashes of life of normal men and women. Secondo Me is another story of humanity that is apparently invisible, yet essential: Moldavian director Pavel Cuzuioc travels to theaters in Odessa, Vienna and Milan in search of Nadezha, Flavio and Ronaldo. At last, after years on the sidelines, out of the spotlight, they play the leads. Nikodem, who is autistic and about to receive Komunia, has also been sidelined. Anna Zamecka, a sensitive director and attentive anthropologist, starts with a belt to close the loop on a family and especially the challenges of living. These are the Magnificent Seven ready to conquer Locarno.