All muses of Kaunas 0

Goda Jurevičiūtė, 2013-10-09
“Stray Dogs“. Dir. Tsai Ming-liang

In brief: Kaunas International Film Festival (KIFF) forms such a programme for the latter several years that is one step ahead of all other festivals trying to encompass the entire palette of cinema by the originality of its content. The author asserts this not due to the fact that she dislikes other festivals. Simply KIFF selects the boldest and most uncompromising films, the presentation of which means a big financial risk in the context of our festivals.

The strangest film discovered in the programme of this year was “Leviathan“ most probably. It is a documentary directed by two artists, anthropologists Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, in which fishermen at sea are pictured. It is a story with only a few words that reveals the daily life of fishermen. The film is unusual and experimental and demands patience.

One more unusual film of the festival was “Mekong Hotel“. Its authorship belongs to one of the most famous contemporary festival directors from Thailand Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The winner of the Palm branch created a work dedicated to a very narrow circle of viewers, in which he mixes facts and fiction, reality and mystical phenomena with an easy hand. It is a collage of conversations, in which the whisper of lovers is broken by the conversation of a mother‘s vampiric spirit and daughter on the hotel terrace.

Meanwhile, the film of the Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang “Stray Dogs“ is more open to a wider public. It was awarded with the Grand Prix of the jury at Venice Film Festival in September. The author states that it was surely one of the most impressive films created this year and the strongest film shown in KIFF. The film is a story of a father and two children. A simple story turns into an impressive film in hands of Tsai Ming-liang. In the running world the director Tsai Ming-liang offers to stop and look – at faces of characters, environment, play of light and darkness in perfectly composed frames. “Stray Dogs“ is a rather gloomy film about a frustrated man; still, the director does not give in and defuses the film with surrealistic humor.

One more important moment of KIFF is the acquaintance with the king of Canes Film Festival of this year, director Abdellatif Kechiche from Tunis creating in France. “The Life of Adele“ and his earlier works were shown in the festival. His debut film “Guilt of Voltaire“ analyses the frequent theme of Arabian immigrants, but the vision of the director is completely new. Naturalism prevails in the film. The director does not hurry anywhere, and the effect of reality is created. After the film which lasted several hours one feels that he/she knows the main characters really well. The film ends but the story continues in thoughts.

Despite the abundance of exceptional directors and original films, the audience of the festival chose the comic drama “Wadjda“ of the director Haifaa Al-Mansour as the favourite film of the audience. The film is exceptional as it is the first work shot in Saudi Arabia and it was directed by a woman. The film is about a ten-year-old girl Wadjda who wants to learn to ride a bicycle but this pleasure is forbidden for women in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, in order to reach her aim Wadjda has to confront the steadfast traditions and hostility of people.

The author regrets that due to the lack of public relations the films of the festival were not attended by many viewers at the film hall of the Contemporary Art Centre. Still, determination and patience is required to raise the audience. Thus, one should hope that Kaunas International Film Festival will have it next year too.

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