Films in competition announced

Limassol, 27 March 2019

17th CYPRUS FILM DAYS

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2019

12 – 20 April 2019

Films in the International and National Competitions, Special Screenings and Jury Members announced

Nine international films, including a production from Cyprus, will be competing in the Glocal Images International Competition section of Cyprus Film Days IFF this year. Four films will be participating in the National Competition section, while the awards will be decided upon by a five-member international jury, comprised of international and local film professionals. As it has already been announced, the Festival will be taking place from the 12th to the 20th of April, 2019, at the Rialto Theatre, in Limassol and Zena Palace Cinema, in Nicosia while all the films screening are Cyprus premieres. The Festival is organised by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Rialto Theatre.

The films screening at this year’s GLOCAL IMAGES International Competition section are the following:

· Alone at my Wedding, Directed by: Marta Bergman, (Belgium)

(World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival 2018)

Pamela, a young Roma girl, lives with her grandmother and her little girl in a small village just outside of Bucharest. Pamela feels quite constrained of her life as she sees no future for herself and decides to take a leap of faith by becoming another Eastern European internet bride. Known for her documentary films, in her fiction debut, Bucharest-born Marta Bergman is drafting a powerful portrait of a woman who fights her inner struggles to discover who she really is. The mental and literal journey will become a revelation supported by Alina Serban’s perplexing genuine performance that enhances the heroine’s vulnerable energy.

· Holy Boom, Directed by: Maria Lafi, (Greece, Albania)

(Best Balkan Film Award – Tirana IFF, Best International Feature Film Award – Festival de Cine de Zaragoza etc.)

In a multicultural Athenian neighbourhood, the public mailbox is blasted by a local Filipino teenager, who urges to be accepted in his new community. This single event will ignite a chain reaction as the lives of four strangers will change forever since the valuable documents they were expecting are destroyed. In her debut feature film, Maria Lafi builds an intertwined film as multiple storylines, personal expectations and hopes are now being perplexed in an unexpected way. Each character unfolds his or her drama to be positioned in a society that changes so fast while struggling to survive, without of course leaving behind the constant pursuit for happiness.

· House of Hummingbird, Directed by: Kim Bo-ra, (South Korea)

(Grand Prix Winner of the Generation 14plus International Jury for Best Film – Berlin IFF, NETPAC Award & KNN Audience Award – Busan IFF, Best Film Award and SIFF Committee Award, New Choices Competition – Seoul IFF etc.)

As Seoul is going through a never-ending change in 1994, a teenage girl is trying to explore her own track of life in search for love, acceptance and romance. Bored at school, she will attempt to have romance with boys and girls, and she must be hospitalized due to a questionable biopsy. The arrival of Young-ji, a new Chinese tutor, will give Eun-hee hope, as she is the only adult who can understand her. Finely articulated and sensitive, Kim Bo-ra’s debut aims to become more than a coming-of-age drama, following a dense narrative and exploring the emancipation of a young girl through an absolute feminine prism. In her first leading role, Park Ji-hu delivers a marvellous performance exploring all the depths of her character.

· Los Silencios, Directed by: Beatriz Seigner, (Brazil, Colombia, France)

(World Premiere, Quinzaine des Realisateurs – Cannes Film Festival, Abraccine Award and Jury Award – Brazilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema, Opera Prima Award – Havana Film Festival, Special Jury Prize – Kerala IFF, Special Jury Prize and Best Screenplay Award – Lima Latin American Film Festival, Impact Award – Stockholm Film Festival etc.)

Nuria, Fabio, and their mother, Amparo, arrive in a small island in the middle of Amazonia, at the border of Brazil, Colombia and Peru. They ran away from the Colombian armed conflict in which their father disappeared. One day, he reappears in their new house. The family is haunted by this strange secret and discovers the island is peopled with ghosts. In her second feature film, Brazilian director Beatriz Seigner uses an immigrants’ story as a backbone to address an actual political problem in her region. Like her heroes that are in limbo among countries and balance between life and death, the film also plays with realism against the supernatural, elements of horror unsettle the family drama, and it becomes even harder to discriminate when fiction and documentary are set apart.

· Ray & Liz, Directed by: Richard Billingham, (UK)

(Nominated for Outstanding Debut -BAFTA Awards, Special Mention Jury Prize – Locarno Film Festival International Competition, Golden Alexander Award for Best Film – Thessaloniki IFF etc.)

By creating an austere autobiographic debut feature film, English artist, photographer, and filmmaker Richard Billingham, returns on the outskirts of Birmingham and “visits” the house where he grew up, during the Thatcher-era Britain. Facing once again the characters of his alcoholic father Ray and his tattooed mother Liz, that have been a returning inspiration to his short films and photographs, this is a story of a family that surpasses social taboos, encourages bullying and domestic abuse, and follows extreme rituals. Powerful performances offer another dimension to the experience of growing up in a family that is doomed by misery and living in council flat set in Midlands’ most depressing period in recent times.

· Smuggling Hendrix, Directed by: Marios Piperides, (Cyprus, Germany, Greece)

(Best International Narrative Feature (World Premiere) – Tribeca IFF, Best First Feature Award – Quebec City IFF, Bridging Borders – Honorable Mention – Palm Springs IFF etc.)

In a quirky and quite symbolic way, debutant writer-director Marios Piperides exposes the political situation of his country in a tragicomic manner. Yiannis’ plans to leave Cyprus are put on hold when his dog, Jimi, runs away and crosses the UN buffer zone that divides the “Greek” from the “Turkish” side of the island. Since animal exchange between the two “sides” is prohibited, Yiannis reluctantly joins forces with a cast of unexpected characters to smuggle him back. The film is also competing in the National Competition section.

· Sofia, Directed by: Meryem Benm’Barek, (Belgium)

(Un Certain Regard Screenplay Prize – Cannes Film Festival, Young Film Critics Award – Transatlantyk Festival Lodz, etc.)

Τwenty-year-old Sofia lives with her parents in Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco with the greatest tensions among social groups. Suffering from pregnancy denial, she finds herself breaking the law by giving birth to a baby out of wedlock. The hospital gives her 24 hours to provide them with the identification papers, and to present the father. The first feature film by Moroccan writer-director Meryem Benm’Barek, that won the Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Best Screenplay award, is an evident social drama that surpasses the limits of the local community and criticizes the rigid structures of a patriarchal society while painting a picture of the class fight and the hypocrisy hidden behind it.

· Tel Aviv on Fire, Directed by: Sameh Zoabi, (Luxembourg, Belgium, Israel, France)

(Interfilm Award for Best Film & Venice Horizons Award for Best Actor – Venice FF, Best Film Award – Haifa International Film Festival, Best Screenplay – Asia Pacific Screen Awards, etc.)

With great leading characters and a witty story, Palestinian-born filmmaker Sameh Zoabi delivers his second feature that uses laughter to reflect the drama behind the Israeli-Palestinian relationships. Through a great sense of humour, that trespasses the borders of the two territories as well the reality with the soap opera realm, the film attractively exploits comedy in order to address the most crucial aspects of today’s conflict.

Salam, a charming 30-year-old Palestinian living in Jerusalem, works as an intern on a popular Palestinian soap opera, Tel Aviv on Fire, which is produced in Ramallah. Every day Salam must pass through an arduous Israeli checkpoint to reach the television studios. He meets the commander of the check-point, Assi, whose wife is a huge fan of the show. In order to impress her, Assi gets involved in the writing of the show. Salam soon realizes that Assi’s ideas could get him a promotion as a screenwriter. Salam’s creative career catches fire, until Assi and the soap’s financial backers disagree on how the soap opera should end. Squeezed between an Army Officer and the Arab backers, Salam can only solve his problems with a final master stroke.

· Too Late to Die Young, Directed by: Dominga Sotomayor, (Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands, Qatar)

(Best Director Award in International Competition – Locarno Film Festival, KNF Award – Rotterdam IFF, Best Director and Best Cinematography – Gijon IFF etc.)

After 17 years of dictatorship, Chile is moving towards democracy during the summer of 1990. At the same time, a small group of families is moving at the foot of Andes in an isolated community where they create a self-sufficient new world away from urban limitations. In this time of change and reckoning, 16-year-old Sofía and Lucas, and 10-year-old Clara, neighbours in this dry land, struggle with parents, first loves, and fears, as they prepare a big party for New Year’s Eve. They may live far from the dangers of the city, but not from those of nature. Taking as a premise the story of her three characters in her second feature film, Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor, is facing the transition that they are going through along with that of her own country while shifting from political restrictions to freedom. The massive changes are depicted through a nostalgic aspect while the conflicts between fighting generations and social classes are going through the slow and slightly melancholic process of growing up.

NATIONAL COMPETITION

The Cypriot films participating in the national competition are the following:

· Await Further Instructions, Directed by: Johnny Kevorkian, (USA)

It’s Christmas Day and the Milgram family wake to find a mysterious black substance surrounding their house. Something monumental is clearly happening right outside their door, but what exactly – an industrial accident, a terrorist attack, nuclear war? Cypriot-born London-based filmmaker Johnny Kevorkian remains faithful to genre cinema and after his horror debut The Disappeared, he brings his sophomore feature, a grim horror that blends elements of science fiction. Await Further Instructions is competing only for the Best Cypriot Director Award.

· Small White Envelopes, Directed by: Soteris Christou, (Cyprus)

(World Premiere at Cyprus Film Days 2019)

Mishellis, a small-time crook in his late thirties, is in an urgent need of money as his life is being threatened for failing to repay his gambling debts. His idea is to rob a wedding and take the money-stuffed envelopes brought by guests as gifts. After a disastrous first attempt, he decides to try a different, more indirect method. He impersonates a wedding planner and approaches a middle-class family in order to steal the money from their daughter’s wedding.

After directing a handful of short films that have been screened in international film festivals and working as an editor in various films, Cypriot director, Soteris Christou, delivers his debut directorial attempt.

· Waiting Room, Directed by: Alexander Leondaritis, (Cyprus)

(Special Mention for Fiction Feature Film – London Greek Film Festival, Best Feature, Best Writing and Best Kill – Independent Horror Movie Awards, Best Thriller and Best Actress in an Indie Film – Los Angeles Film Awards etc.)

Five strangers wake up in a place that looks like an abandoned warehouse. None of them remember the last few days, or how they got there. As they try to find a way out, one by one they are attacked by an unknown force, and it soon becomes obvious that the only key to their survival lies in uncovering what brought them there in the first place.

Having already attracted the audiences with his first action film The Final Payoff, Cypriot director Alexander Leondaritis, writes and directs his sophomore feature Waiting Room, a claustrophobic thriller that has already travelled in various international film festivals receiving nominations and awards. The film is only competing for the Best Cypriot Film Award.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

· Pause, Directed by: Tonia Mishiali, (Cyprus)

(FIPRESCI award for Best film and National Television ERT award – Thessaloniki IFF, Greek Film Critics Union Award – Athens Panorama of European Cinema, Greece, Emerging Greeks Competition Best Film Award – Hellas FilmBox, Berlin, Germany, etc.)

Trapped in a turbulent and loveless marriage, middle-aged housewife Elpida is confronted with the first signs of menopause, and both her body and mind are being affected. Her crumbling relationship with her despotic and oppressive husband will amplify her emotional needs and emphasise the absence of communication between them. Her only connections with the outside world are her best friend, her car and her paintings. Elpida’s muted loneliness in conjunction with the ongoing symptoms of menopause will cause her life to enter a state of limbo where reality is blended with fantasy.

In her feature debut, Tonia Mishiali delivers a raw but fairly realistic portrait of the multiple emotionally flawed marriages and families that still dominate the patriarchal local society. Through an emotional approach, and despite the apparent bleakness, the film offers a ray of light, as hope is possibly coming. Pause premiered at Karlovy Vary IFF and has already been travelling in numerous acclaimed international film festivals.

INTERNATIONAL JURY

The international jury of the Festival is made up of five acclaimed film professionals from Cyprus and the world. For 2019, the President of the Jury is renowned German actor Udo Kier. Kier has starred in a long list of art house films, thrillers and cult horror films, as well as blockbusters (Blade, End of Days, Armageddon, Johnny Mnemonic, Adventures of Pinocchio etc.), and popular music videos. He has collaborated with famous directors such as, Lars Von Trier, Paul Morrissey, Miklos Jancso, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Dario Argento.

The Jury Members are:

· Hayet Benkara, Film Programmer / Sales Agent (France – Canada)

· Christos Georgiou, Film Director (Greece – Cyprus) (Happy Birthday, Small Crime, Under The Stars)

· Sarah Adler, Actress (France – Israel) (Foxtrot, The Cakemaker, Notre Musique)

· Lisa Tsouloupa, Production Designer (Cyprus) (Sunrise in Kimmeria, Family Member)