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The 25th SFF - Cineuropa Daily News

Comunicazione di Giorgio Mancinelli
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Pubblicato il 24/08/2019 05:24:19

The 25th SFF Daily News - 23 August 2019

The biggest film event in Southeast Europe, the Sarajevo Film Festival is celebrating its 25th edition with 270 films from 56 countries across 18 sections and its sprawling industry segment, the CineLink Industry Days.

Alejandro González Iñárritu to receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award
by Cineuropa.

26/07/2019 - The Oscar-winning Mexican director, producer and screenwriter will also hold a master class during the Bosnian festival.

Mexican director-producer-screenwriter Alejandro González Iñárritu is one of the most highly acclaimed and well-regarded filmmakers working today, known for telling poignant and international stories about the human condition. The winner of two consecutive Best Director Oscars for his films The Revenant and Birdman will receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award at the 25th Sarajevo Film Festival (16-23 August). The accolade will be given to him in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the art of film.
“It gives us great pleasure to honour this distinguished auteur who keeps pushing the limits by transforming his unique artistic vision into unpredictable and outstanding movies. His films are characterised by a distinctive style and pace, and they captivate and thrill audiences and film critics around the world. We are happy that we’ll have a chance to welcome him to the 25th Sarajevo Film Festival and present him with the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award for his immense contribution to the art of film with the timeless, award-winning classics that he has been making throughout his career,” said Sarajevo Film Festival director Mirsad Purivatra.

Alejandro González Iñárritu made his feature-length directorial debut in the Cannes Critics’ Week in 2000 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign-language Film with Amores Perros. His subsequent credits include 21 Grams; Babel, which garnered seven Oscar nominations and won the Best Director Award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival; and Biutiful [+], presented in competition at Cannes in 2010.
He became the first Mexican filmmaker to be nominated for either Best Director or Best Producer in the history of the Academy Awards, and the first Mexican filmmaker to receive a Best Picture Award at Cannes. Iñárritu took home the gongs for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the 87th Academy Awards, for Birdman. The following year, he won his second consecutive Academy Award for Best Director for The Revenant.

Additionally, he created the VR installation Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible), which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival as the first VR project ever included in the Official Selection, and garnered Iñárritu his fifth Academy Award, a special Oscar presented to him by the Board of Governors. Most recently, he became the first Latin American filmmaker to head the jury of the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.
During the 25th Sarajevo Film Festival, Iñárritu will hold a master class, and the gathering will organise a special screening of Birdman.

Levan Akin • Director of And Then We Danced
“When it takes some four years to make a film, it needs to mean something”
by Jan Lumholdt.

18/05/2019 - With And Then We Danced, Swedish-Georgian director Levan Akin takes on his Eastern European roots with a vengeance.
Born in Sweden in 1979 to Georgians from Turkey, educated at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and serving as an intern at Roy Andersson’s Stockholm studio: these are all assorted tiles in the mosaic that has become director Levan Akin – he calls it part mishmash, part superpower. His 2011 debut feature, Certain People, played at the Tribeca Film Festival, and his follow-up, The Circle [+], produced by Benny Andersson of ABBA, opened at Berlin in 2015. With his third feature, And Then We Danced [+], Akin is making his debut both in his Georgian tongue and at the Cannes Film Festival, as the film has premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section.

Cineuropa: Your home country is Sweden, where you also mainly work. What made you want to make this film in Georgia – and in Georgian?

Levan Akin: I watched a news clip in 2013 where some 40-50 young people had decided to do a pride parade in Tbilisi. There was also a counter-demonstration by the Orthodox Church with the probable aid of some Russian connections – the clip showed thousands of these “protesters”. The paraders hid in a little bus, which was literally torn apart by the mob. It looked like a proper zombie movie. I’m a sensitive soul and a devoted vegan who even feels bad about flying to Cannes because of the fossil fuels, and I feel lousy when I read about the extinction of the rhinoceros in Africa. I feel like my work needs to be more than just a fun ride. When it takes some four years to make a film, it needs to mean something. I don’t know enough about the rhinoceros yet, but I know Georgia. So I went.
The theme of the Georgian dancing tradition makes for an interesting dynamic. On one hand, it’s quite an emblem of Eastern European alpha-masculinity, and on the other, it’s decidedly un-masculine, possibly with queer connotations.
It’s a perfect paradox, which is incredibly interesting. And it made the story very easy to put together. We have a young guy, a gifted dancer, who starts to explore his feelings, his sexuality and, ultimately, love – for another guy. It all just fell into place.
And Then We Danced is Swedish-Georgian with a French co-production.

How did the Georgian authorities react to the dancing getting such a central position? Did they support your choice to put this culture up on the international big screen?

Well, sadly not. Officially, the Georgian government is all “pro-West”, with EU financial support and all, but they haven’t helped us one single bit. In effect, we shot the film guerrilla-style. Rumours about some of our themes got out, and we received threats and decided to get bodyguards. Had they really known what we shot, we would have been thrown out! But we did it, and it was very rewarding. I met some wonderful people along the way.

Will it open in Georgia?

We don’t know yet. It’s got a lot of attention so far; it’s something like the fifth film ever from Georgia to be shown at Cannes. So they don’t know what to do, really; they have a hot potato on their hands. I’m sure Russia sees it as a piece of “EU propaganda”. It’s damned interesting and political as hell. They are actually calling me Satan on some of the Georgian social media. So I must have done something right!

You certainly must. Should the headline of this piece perhaps be “They call me Satan”?

Oh, my mother wouldn’t like that. She might start worrying about some crazy Orthodox priest trying to strangle me.Let’s hope not. We need to see your rhinoceros film.
With pleasure – and with Sigourney Weaver in the lead.

Do you have any English-language plans?

There’s a nice thing in development starring two American multi-Oscar nominees whom I won’t name just yet. I just need to get the script a bit more perfect... When it is, I’m on. But I won’t be jumping on the first chance to do some episode of some series just because it’s in English.

Review: And Then We Danced
by Bénédicte Prot.

17/05/2019 - Through the character of a Georgian dancer in love for the first time, and with a fellow pupil, Levan Akin opens up a window onto a traditional world that’s both harsh and beautiful.

And Then We Danced [+], the third feature by the Swedish filmmaker of Georgian descent, Levan Akin (also the director of several series), and his first work to be filmed in the Georgian language, had some wonderful surprises in store for the Directors’ Fortnight audience at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, offering up Merab, the young hero of the picture (played by the stellar actor Levan Gelbakhiani) and dancer in the National Georgian Ensemble. He works hard under the very strict tutelage of his teacher, but with such ardour that we immediately understand from the very beginning of the story that he’s not like his brother, or indeed any of the other family members who have gone before him and who also continued the tradition of Georgian dance. And it is through the energy of Merab and through his irresistibly infectious joie de vivre that we come to discover this tradition, the virtues of which are beautifully extolled in a glorious sequence of polyphonic singing.

Merab’s love for life and for tradition is shared by his group of friends, whom he’s known for a lifetime – he’s also been in a relationship with a girl for years, whom everyone, including him, believes he’s destined to be with. In such a cohesive setting, which could almost have us believe that Tbilisi is a cheerful village brimming with youth, we might barely pick up on the precariousness and the nasty atavisms that characterise the social context in which Merab lives, were it not for the fact that, throughout the entire film, we see his family struggling to stay afloat, we hear his alcoholic father bitterly lamenting his lot and his teacher insisting that Georgian dance should present an unequivocal masculinity so as to contrast with the “virginal innocence” of girls.
And yet, when a new boy, Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), arrives in his class, all brown hair and magnetic beauty, dreaming of joining the National Ballet and depicted from the outset as a possible rival for Merab, the exchange of a few bright smiles are all it takes (because this is how Merab communicates when he’s not dancing – and by “communicating”, we mean recognising others for who they really are and establishing a complicity which extends to the audience, who also find themselves grinning from ear to ear) to bring the two youngsters into communion rather than opposition, and, ironically, it is the dazzling happiness they find here that turns out to be unequivocal.

The greatest thing, aside from Merab’s expression when he discovers he’s in love (and when he discovers himself, full stop), is that it happens very naturally, without our likeable hero asking himself any questions – no more so than he did before, in any case, when he was happily continuing along a path that was already all mapped out. There is no malaise or rebellion, no brutal fall out; even when it becomes obvious, with hindsight, that he’s becoming an unwelcome entity in an organism which will eventually go on to exclude him. Disarmingly innocent and gentle, Merab is a wonderful character in that he manages to embrace what lies before him, while continuing to hold dear that which he already has. In this respect, as his journey towards self-affirmation as a young homosexual hero doesn’t involve any rejection or betrayal, but rather the character comes through this process with incredible grace, And Then We Danced is an original and totally adorable film which opens a window onto a traditional society in all its beauty, and in all its intolerance, without contradiction but with love.

And Then We Danced was produced by French Quarter Film (Sweden) in co-production with Takes Film (Georgia) and AMA Productions (France). International sales of the film are managed by the Parisian agency Totem Films.

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