Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cinema du Réel - Paris

Cinéma du Réel, International Documentary Film Festival 9-18 March 2007, Paris. 29th edition

Since its creation in 1978 by the Bibliothèque publique d’information, Cinéma du réel has developped into a major documentary film festival, a reference event in which the public as well as the professionals discover new films and new filmmakers, in which today’s documentary filmmaking confronts with the best of documentary cinema history. Workshops and special events complete a program supported by a numerous and enthusiastic audience.

This year a special programme in the non-competitive section with the latest Jia Zhangke's film, Dong (and special screenings with Still-life) and Le Papier ne peut pas envelopper la braise (Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers) by Rithy Panh, is planned. Both will be present too.

website

Asian films at the International Competition section :
- Aki Ra’s Boys (Lynn Lee, James Leong, Singapore, 2007)
A museum in Cambodia, exhibiting the ravages of land mines. Here, tourists can fearlessly relive the images of war, touch the instruments of death (mines, grenades, shells, fragmentation bombs) and marvel at man’s limitless ingenuity in the matter. Their guides are youngsters who have been maimed by these explosives. For these children, Aki Ra has become their family, providing a home where they can fulfil themselves, learn, play, and live their youth to the full despite being handicapped. website
- An Actor Prepares (Kanu Behl, India, 2006)
Amit builds castles in the air. He has one sole ambition: to become an actor and break into Bollywood. But no matter how often he rehearses the lines of his favourite films, does physical exercise, goes to auditions, calls the film studios, nothing works out for him. The appointment that would launch his career is not forthcoming. But his time is running short: his parents cannot afford to keep him indefinitely. A soothsayer predicts his success, but not before five or six years...
- And Thereafter II (Hosup Lee, South Korea, 2006)
Ajuma was a war bride of an American GI in South Korea. She followed her husband to the USA. She is now a widow. She speaks English reluctantly, likes gambling to the local casino. When interviewed, she responds bluntly to the filmmaker. Although he shelters behind the ironic tone of his captions, his “character” always wins. In many ways, And Thereafter II is reminiscent of Shohei Imamura’s History of Post-War Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess. The fundamental likeness lies in the affection linking the filmmaker to his character, with the result that he is no longer the witness of a story he recreates for us, but a central character of his narrative. His heroine is not a deep-buried memory, but rather part of a forgotten history.
- Giac mo la cong nhan (Worker’s Dreams) (Phuong Thao Tran, Vietnam, 2006)
Each morning, thousands of country girls who have come to seek their fortune in Hanoi set out on foot from the suburbs wending their way through the cars and motorcycles. They are off to work or in search of a job in the El Dorado of the booming Japanese-run factories. Neither the sinister picture these young women paint of globalisation, nor their ordeals dampen their determination or their appetite for life. Convinced of their rights and strengthened by their sense of justice, they set out to conquer this globalised world with their indignation, an unshakeable confidence and a certain mischievousness. website
- Kien (Dao Thanh Thung, Vietnam,2006)
Kien was expelled from the Hanoi Fine Arts College, as he was HIV positive. Painting has become his refuge. His friends try to express their compassion, but suffering cannot be shared. “If we cry in the same glass, our tears do not mingle.” The film is like these friends, convinced that if people knew Kien’s story they would no longer reject him, that their attitude to his HIV would change and that, if his suffering were better understood, it would be somewhat alleviated. Kien agrees to tell his story, but only off camera. Kien refuses the filmmaker’s tears. It is only when the filmmaker realises his approach is mistaken that, step by step, the film like the phoenix rises out of the ashes and comes face to face with its real subject. website
- Match Made (Mirabelle Ang, Singapore, 2006)
On the one hand, the poverty of the Vietnamese peasants and, on the other, the dynamism of Asian capitalism. These two ingredients are at the root of a flourishing trade in Ho Chi Minh Ville: the marriage agencies. There, the rich Chinese from Singapore or Taiwan can buy a wife to match their needs. The agency takes everything in hand, from recruiting village girls through to the “auditions” in a hotel room, from the administrative formalities to the wedding ceremony, from compensation for the parents to the fresh young bride’s passport, from the medical certificate to the souvenir photos.
- Maxi xuexiao (Circus School) (Guo Jing & Ke Dingding, China, 2006)
The Shanghai Circus School is a state-run school where the kids work hard. The trapeze, tightrope, and acrobatics... in the wings, the magic of the show gives way to reality, one in which body and mind undergo relentless training. Suffering is embedded in the physical exercises, the daily routine, the diet, and an iron discipline. The children find it difficult to put up with this barrack-style existence, which reflects more their parents’ wishes, or resignation, than their own aspirations. At the end of the line, for the little trapeze artist and the young gymnast, comes success. Yet, is it all really worth it? The camera’s unswerving eye follows the children and teachers, who are pursued by an “obligation to reach results” largely inspired by “values” tinged with nationalism, and by “competition” management. website
- Senkyo (Campain) (Kazuhiro Soda, Japon, 2006)
No-one understands what pushed this “dynamic businessman” (in the stamp and coin trade) to enter politics. Neither does one learn much more about his three-point “programme” (more nurseries?). All that counts is that his name and party be endlessly repeated, “because beyond three seconds, the electors remember nothing you tell them”. The candidate has not only to assume his own campaign expenses, but also unflinchingly bear his lieutenants’ reprimands and humiliations: he never does anything well! The film nonetheless finds its “Jiminy Cricket” in the candidate’s wife. While agreeing to assist her husband and play the perfect, not-yet-desperate housewife, she offers consistent resistance, which finally breaks out into open rebellion and “speaking some home truths”. website

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