The Fresh Danube Films competition programme will show the most interesting debut films from the Danube Region, as chosen by the selector, Vladan Petković; from Austrian horror Goodnight Mommy, to Hungarian Liza, the Fox-Fairy, and Slovakian documentary Felvidek: Caught in Between. This year’s selection discusses powerful and intriguing issues, but what is also noticeable is the dominant presence of female directors. Some of the films from this selection won awards at major European and world festivals in Toronto (The Lesson, Bulgaria), San Sebastian (Limbo, Germany), Rotterdam (Self Portrait of a Dutiful Daughter, Romania) and Sarajevo (Naked Island, Croatia), says Milan Stojanović, programme director of the festival.
The best film from this selection will be chosen by Laura Nanchino from the Cineuropa magazine, which will award it by making it part of the In Focus section on its portal.
Vladan Petković describes the FDF selection as “a combination of strong personal, family, and political stories with a strong female presence: of the seven films in this selection, four were directed by women, of which two (Goodnight Mommy and The Lesson) were made in collaboration with male co-directors”. Petković deems it to be very significant in the year when the discussion on discrimination of female authors, as was the case at the Oscars and most recently at the Cannes FF, is so current.
For those interested in art films and those who like to invest in emotions, the selector advises not to miss two superb films that deal with identity and the coming of age, Self Portrait of a Dutiful Daughter and Limbo, signed by young female directors from Romania and Germany, respectively.
A guest of this year’s festival, Ana Lunga, one of the rare female authors from the Romanian new wave, shot a minimalist and personal film Self Portrait of a Dutiful Daughter about a girl at a crossroads between youth and adulthood. This film gives a compelling image of a generation that grew up in the post-communist era.
Limbo is a must-see this year. It is a subtle and quiet coming-of-age story that follows a young girl in a small Danish town. It was directed by Anna Sofie Hartmann, student of the German Film Academy, another guest of the 8th Cinema City festival. This emotionally powerful film insinuates more than it lets on, and its effects only become apparent in the days following the viewing.
For genre aficionados we have prepared the Austrian psychological thriller Goodnight Mommy, directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, which is another must-see of the festival. This is a story about a relationship between a mother and her son(s) in an isolated patch of land. Also not to be missed is the impressive Hungarian accomplishment, Liza, the Fox-Fairy, directed by Károly Ujj Mészáros, which combines fantasy with superb acting and scenography. This film, which was awarded the main award at the prestigious Fanstasporto Film Festival, tells a story about a young woman searching for the love of her dreams.
Those more inclined towards politics and history can see the Croatian documentary Naked Island and Slovakian Felvidek: Caught in Between.
Naked Island is an intimate testimony of the Croatian author, Tiha Grudac, about her grandfather who was imprisoned on Goli otok, a political prison also known as an island of broken souls, and the effects this had on the entire family. Another powerful documentary is Vladislava Plancíková’s Felvidek: Caught in Between, which chose the historic theme of multi-ethnic region of South Slovakia in which Hungarians and Slovaks live side by side and which had been caught between the conflicting interests of political elites on numerous occasions.
The domestic representative in the FDF selection is Little Buddho, directed and co-written by Danilo Bećković (co-writer Dimitrije Vojinov), which is his first feature film. This comedy of character gathered a great cast, with Petar Strugar as Budo, Sergej Trifunović, Tihomir Tika Stanić, Petar Božović, Hristina Popović, Jelena Rakočević, and many others. Serbian film festivals in Australia, Toronto, Vancouver, Johannesburg, Chicago, and Scandinavia, where it won the audience award, make this film a real cinematic treat.
The last but not least is the exciting and subversive drama The Lesson, signed by a Bulgarian directing duo Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, who created an exciting and dynamic drama on the consequences of a single event in the life of a teacher intent on discovering and punishing the thief who stole her pupil’s lunch money. The Lesson is one of only two Bulgarian films to be distributed in American cinemas in the past 30 years.