OIFF: Games of Genres and Rapists

On Tuesday, the sluggish international competition of the festival became vivid. The genre is a means of salvation.

The Orphanage (Parwareshghah, directed by Shahrbanu Sadat, Afghanistan-Denmark-Germany-France-Luxembourg-Qatar) starts as a typical social drama. Afghanistan, Kabul, the last year of Soviet occupation. 15-years-old Qodrat lives on the streets and earns money by reselling key trinkets and cinema tickets. He is a passionate fan of Bollywood, which is as bright, as poor the life around is. The police catch the boy and throw him into a Soviet orphanage infested with guards, fierce hazing and Russian lessons.

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Shot from the film The Orphanage

It is obvious the director sought to maximize authenticity, chose truthful types, and yet the visual contrast created on the screen is the most interesting when Qodrat flies in his dreams to another Bollywood song with some of the surrounding people. However, it is a pity everything is limited to this technique – there is practically no further development of the plot.

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Shot from the film Keep an Eye Out

The Franco-Belgian film Keep an Eye Out (Au Poste!, Quentin Dupieux) involves genre games of a different kind – between two types of spectacle that are close at first glance, but antagonistic in fact – cinema and theatre. The whole film is the story of one interrogation. Quite a peaceful citizen Fugain finds a corpse outside his home, does the right thing and calls the police immediately. But the circumstances of this discovery are so strange that the poor fellow gets stuck at night at the police station accompanied by strange and tough policemen. However, police stations are not what they seem to be. The finale, which turns everything upside down, gives the film an unexpected and bitter depth: there are people who see the world, not as a theater, but the theater as the whole world, and there is both elevation and doom to this at the same time.

In the non-competitive Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles, Brazil-France, section Festival of Festivals), awarded the Jury Prize of this year’s Cannes festival, genre cocktail turns into an explosive mixture: it is a social drama, extremely bloody thriller, and even a comedy at the same time.

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Shot from the film Bacurau

A 94-year-old Carmelita dies in a small Brazilian town. And odd things start to happen. Someone is shelling cars. It turns out that the town has disappeared from the maps and it is out of the coverage zone. Gradually, everything grows into a bloody confrontation with visiting ‘tourists’ who are having a good time shooting living people. Filho and Dornelles gathered a luxurious acting troupe with all types possible, a hundred percent ‘hit’. The North American performers, among whom a leader of murderers, cynical and tired of life, stands outperformed by Udo Kier, are no less organic than the Brazilian ones. This organic acting together with the well-written drama makes the film exciting and intimidating both for ordinary spectators and critics.

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Shot from the film Weinstein

The evening show of the sensational documentary Weinstein (originally Untouchable, Ursula McFarlane, UK)  is a Ukrainian premiere of the investigation film about how uncontrolled power (in full compliance with the thesis of the English historian John Acton “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”) can destroy even the most talented person. McFarlane shows Harvey Weinstein gaining his huge reputation in cinema production throughout 40 years. He used his social capital to rape women dependent on him. His former employees, classmates, and journalists reflect on the rise and fall. It is as unbearable to look as it is important to. We can only dream of such examples of film journalism.

Perhaps, the main event of Wednesday is the show of the masterpiece of German expressionism at the Green theater,  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Robert Wiene (1920), accompanied by the iconic British punk cabaret The Tiger Lillies.

To be continued.

Dmytro Desiaterik, The Day – especially for opinionua.com

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