Today, July 20, the last day of the competition. The organizers left the drama for dessert: “STYX” and “Thunder Road”. Two films raise the current problems of the global contemporary world in its most diverse forms. Also, today the last, third compilation of Ukrainian short films was shown at the festival.

“STYX”, Wolfgang Fischer, Germany-Austria, 2018

The seventh competition day: “STYX”, “Thunder Road”

Shot from the film “STYX”

Ambulance Nurse Rike (Susanne Wolff) decides to make her long-awaited dream come true. She wants to head for the open ocean on a sailboat and reach the distant Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean, where Charles Darwin himself planted man-made jungles to illustrate his theory of evolution. However, everything goes awry when, after a storm, she finds herself next to the damaged fishing boat full of refugees from Africa. Almost one hundred people may perish. However distress signals are ignored, it seems that anyone needs the refugees. Then Rike decides on a desperate act. In fact, she’s causing a fire on herself.

The film is simple and sharp; it’s almost like a professional report from the hot spot. By limiting the action to the 12-meter yacht, Wolfgang Fischer, however, was able to achieve a considerable emotional tension. This entire story sounds like an indictment against the indifference of great powers and at the same time, as a plea for help. It is a very hard task to make the refugees’ issue “visible”, precisely for the viewer. However, the director coped with it quite satisfactorily.

The film got the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival of 2018.

The highlight of the festival is the thing that after going out of the cinema hall, right after watching the film, you can meet the leading actress Susanne Wolff.

So, we can hope that spectators who come today at the Festival Palace at 19.00 to watch the “Sticks” will be able to see and ask the actress their questions.

“Thunder Road” Jim Cummings, United States, 2018

The seventh competition day: “STYX”, “Thunder Road”

Shot from the film “Thunder Road”

It all begins with a speech of Jim Arnaud (Jim Cummings), a thin, nervous man with the mustache at the funeral of his mother.  After a confused speech, he tries to dance under his mother’s favorite song “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen. However, since the tape recorder is broken, he does it without the music. Of course, it looks Homeric.

This prologue, which is, in fact, a mini-acting-workshop, sets the tone for the entire movie.  It could have been a standard drama or comedy. However, Jim Cummings (who wrote a script, and filmed the film) resorted to a rather original trick: while developing the plot as entirely serious and dramatic, he made the main character a completely absurd. Arnaud is unstable, talkative, terribly nasty, the master of getting into a stupid situation, but at the same time, he’s touching and sincere. He is different. And doesn’t realize that. There’s a reason that during the speech he recalls the act of his mother, who anonymously donated funds to the playground for son’s classmate, an autistic girl.

“Thunder Road” is actually a mono-project of Cummings, self-assembled handmade creation. This is an American film with an absolutely non-American vulnerable hero. And this is its value: after all, in the end, so strangely, Cummings protects everyone who at least once turned out to be in a bad situation simply because of his weakness or vulnerability.

The film won the audience award at the Sous by Southwest Film Festival (USA).

Evening film screening will be at the Festival Palace at 21.30.

In terms of the Festival of Festivals program, there was the screening of “Burning ” by Lee Chang-dong (South Korea, 2018)

The seventh competition day: “STYX”, “Thunder Road”

Shot from the film “Burning”

“This world is like a puzzle.”

The main hero “Burning” (FIPRESSI award of Cannes Festival), the unemployed writer Jong-su answers this way the question why he hasn’t found yet a topic for his future novel.

However, in fact, this is the response of the director himself – objectively, current leading Korean director Lee Chang-dong.

To a certain moment, “Burning” is the story of three. Hae-mi, an eccentric idealist who loves acting, a little bit autistic Jong-su who is in love with her and the arrogant rich big-spender Ben, who according to his confession, loves to burn greenhouses.

The seventh competition day: “STYX”, “Thunder Road”

Shot from the film “Burning”

At first, it resembles the love triangle then we are deceived by a homosexual motive, then by those ill-fated greenhouses, but there are other mysteries. Everything is undone, everything is not as it seems, each of the three does not open himself to the end, and yet, when the film ends, the feeling of a completely narrated story remains. Lee Chang-dong focuses on what happens behind the words, outside the main plot. Exactly this “connecting substance” of the film, is fixed with the help of the camera which is attentive to detail. Kyung-pyo Hong, makes the impression that doesn’t let you go for a long time after the final credits.

It’s simple and incredibly difficult at the same time. You can’t say anything else about this film.

On July 19, within the framework of the European Documentary Films Competition, “Home Games” by Alisa Kovalenko was presented.

The seventh competition day: “STYX”, “Thunder Road”

Shot from the film “Home Games”

A few years ago, Alisa Kovalenko, a young documentary filmmaker, made a short film about a 20-year-old girl from Kyiv. Her name is Alina, she lives in poverty and dreams of becoming a professional football player. But she has problems with her family: the father is in prison or drinks, the mother is not at home, and then she dies. Alina has to take care of two small children and this is the moment when she’s about to play for the national team of Ukraine.

In 2017, Alice returned to complete this story.

Actually, in “Home Games” there is a quality, which is inherent in a good non-Live Action cinema. The main plot and the development of the protagonist image capture are so spectacular that you forget: In front of you is a documentary and people on the screen are not actors, the story isn’t fiction. Alina is struggling for her dream with circumstances that seem to be unbeatable – and wins. This is some kind of collision that we need today.

One more thing, there are many Alinas like this around us. In their honor, Alisa Kovalenko made her film.  She made thousands of girls visible.

Although today all the films of the competition program were shown, on the last day of the festival, the 21st of July, the audience will be able to watch the films from the National Competition program and award winners. The closing film of the festival will be “En liberté!” by Pierre Salvadori.

Text by Kostyantyn Levin and Svitlana Bondar

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