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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) 2009 Festival Releases (Read 57,200 times)
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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #45 - 05. Sep 2009 at 16:19
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From the other major Canadian film festival  Grin



Clive Owen stars as Joe Warr, a habitually roguish sports writer who must cope with the devastating loss of his vivacious wife. Reeling from grief, he has to learn to raise his young son, Artie (Nicholas McAnulty), who cannot accept his mother's passing. On top of this, Joe's older son from his first marriage arrives from England to stay, bringing his own teenaged disaffection with him. As his former life slips through his fingers, Joe constructs his own parenting rules. Adopting the mantra “just say yes,” he leads the trio along the path of least resistance, eating junk food, running wild and attempting to rebuild family bonds.
Based on the memoirs of Simon Carr, the film explores the gender divide of parenting without ever falling prey to stereotype. Instead, The Boys Are Back paints a sensitive picture of the relationship between a father and his sons with subtle empathy and refined emotion.

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Along a dusty grey horizon, a father and son slowly plod. They push a shopping cart filled with their scant, grime-covered possessions – all that they have are a few tattered rags, a gun with two bullets and an unflagging love for one another.

Director John Hillcoat offers a corrosive adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by American master Cormac McCarthy, and like the novel, The Road is spare on detail but epic in its implications. The Man (Viggo Mortensen) wakes up one night, and he and his wife (Charlize Theron) discover the world is on the threshold of ruin. How this came to pass is never explained – instead we witness only the aftermath of a wholesale cataclysm, relayed with chilling realism. With food supplies dwindling and communities beginning to turn on each other, the Man sets out with his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) on a relentless journey of survival. Slumping across a barren United States, they contend daily with starvation, extreme weather and the pervasive threat of cannibalism. Through their occasional yet charged conversations and chance encounters with the odd fellow vagabond (Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce, among others), Hillcoat explores the meaning of their brutal and seemingly thankless quest.

There are no asteroids or alien invasions in this stark apocalyptic tale. Filmed mostly on location at various sites across the United States – including post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans – the film avoids the bravado of high-impact effects, focusing instead on powerful narrative lines and performances. Mortensen throws down an utterly raw turn as a man with the weight of the world – and all his worldly belongings – on his shoulders. And in what is largely a two-hander, the young Smit-Mcphee offers solid proof of his talent, imparting the Boy's fear and visceral courage with shattering tenderness.


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Road, Movie (USA/India)

Sweeping across India's vast landscapes with projectors in tow, Road, Movie embraces two of cinema's greatest pleasures – the open road and the love of movies for their own glorious sake. Powered by the same desire to venture into unknown territory that inspires so many road stories, Dev Benegal's new feature has the distinct advantage of terrain and characters too rarely seen onscreen.

Young and passionate but without direction, Vishnu (Abhay Deol) runs the risk of falling into the family business. Unfortunately, his family sells a hair oil he finds distinctly embarrassing, especially as he watches his father hawk the Atma Hair Potion to vendors with humiliating enthusiasm.

And so Vishnu hits the road, finding a battered old truck as if by fate. Years ago it must have been a spectacular vehicle, ferrying projectors and an eclectic collection of films from village to town across Rajasthan. Now it barely sputters to life. But Vishnu, driven by wanderlust and a need to escape his fate back home, coaxes the green rattletrap along the highway, picking up passengers as he goes – a young runaway, a garrulous entertainer, a beautiful woman and, of course, a few corrupt villains.


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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #46 - 05. Sep 2009 at 16:31
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From director Jamie Travis (The Saddest Boy in the World)

A young boy goes missing in a seemingly “perfect” suburban neighbourhood. His best friend has no idea what happened, and slowly begins to descend into an abyss of grief, tormented by the mystery surrounding the disappearance. Soon the depressed lad begins sleeping in his armoire, haunted by the silence it holds. Through magnificent art direction, Jamie Travis brings us another sad children’s tale, eerily capturing a young boy’s struggle to hide his secrets.

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Entrevista con la tierra (Interview with the Earth) (Mexico)

The poignant Interview with the Earth follows two young brothers from a small Mexican town as they come to terms with the loss of their father, who left the family some time ago. Blending documentary and a fictional story of the death of one of their friends, Pereda explores how the boys experience grief and loss.


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Jorge (Jorge Machado) and Roberta (Roberta Palombini) have been separated for several years. They simply come from opposite worlds: he likes an uncomplicated life in the jungle while she prefers a more urban existence. He is Mexican and she is Italian, and she has decided to return to Rome with their five-year-old son, Natan (Natan Machado Palombini). But before they leave, Jorge wishes to take young Natan on a trip, hoping to teach him about his origins in Mexico. At first the boy is physically and emotionally uncomfortable with the whole affair, and gets seasick on the boat taking them to their destination. But as father and son spend more time together, Natan begins a learning experience that will remain with him forever.

Jorge takes Natan to Chinchorro, home to the second-largest coral reef on the planet and one of the few places in the Mexican Caribbean with an intact ecosystem. Living simply in a wooden palafite (a shack constructed on stakes) in front of the quay, they spend their days fishing with the experienced Matraca (Nestor Marin), and Natan learns the value of catching his own food. The area is also home to all kinds of exotic animals, and Natan is amazed by the iguanas, crocodiles and seabirds that surround them – a natural world previously unknown to him. Father and son share an important experience when Jorge teaches Natan to snorkel, showing him the beauty of the underwater realm. At first the child is hesitant, but with time and the help of his father, he learns to do it alone.

The relationship between man and nature is subtly revealed as we bear witness to the day-to-day existence of the fishermen in Chinchorro, who still spear for lobster and live with few modern conveniences. Riding a thin line between fiction and documentary, filmmaker Pedro González-Rubio weaves a delicate, moving narrative in this fine second feature. Via Jorge and Natan's story, González-Rubio brings us to a remote region in Mexico and puts us in touch with a very pure way of life.


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Sólskinsdrengurinn  (The Sunshine Boy) (Iceland)

Fridrik Thor Fridriksson returns to the Festival with The Sunshine Boy, his first documentary since his debut Rock in Reykjavik. Though documentary is not a genre normally associated with Fridriksson, The Sunshine Boy is unmistakably his work, sharing themes with numerous of his other efforts. Like Angels of the Universe or Children of Nature (or Movie Days or Niceland), Fridriksson's latest focuses on the disenfranchised and how communication, or any fellow feeling, can be a near miraculous occurrence. In this particular case, “miracle” is an appropriate term: his subject is autism, a condition shrouded in mystery, uncertainty and, for the parents of the affected children, a debilitating sense of helplessness.

The Sunshine Boy follows Margrét Dagmar Ericsdóttir as she attempts to help her youngest son, Keli, who has been diagnosed as severely autistic. Unable to find adequate treatment in Iceland (and increasingly frustrated by conventional medicine's advice that she just reconcile herself to the fact that she'll never be able to communicate with her son), Ericsdóttir sets off to investigate alternative forms of therapy. She meets with a wide range of doctors exploring different approaches and other parents with autistic children, as well as several people who were once dismissed as hopeless cases. Most notable of these is the disarming and captivating Temple Grandin, an author and scientist who found a way to communicate despite the fact that virtually every doctor considered her a lost cause. Plain-spoken and direct, Grandin clearly defines the different ways by which autistic people might be able to communicate. Eventually, Ericsdóttir discovers a doctor, Soma Mukhopadhyay, who has developed a method called Rapid Prompting Technique that may allow her to speak with Keli.

The film provides an excellent, precise primer on the condition and the issues surrounding it: whether it's hereditary or caused by environmental factors; the problems with late diagnosis; and the lack of funding for alternative or, in some cases, any treatment.

Emotionally powerful and at the same time doggedly optimistic, The Sunshine Boy is both howl and hosanna.


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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #47 - 05. Sep 2009 at 16:37
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Love & Other Impossible Pursuits (USA)

Watching Natalie Portman mature over the years has been a fascinating thing. From her indelible first roles in The Professional and Beautiful Girls through her blockbuster turns in the Star Wars films, she has maintained a graceful intelligence in everything she does. With Don Roos's Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Portman takes on her first leading role as a fully grown woman, navigating the dilemmas of family for the first time.

Families never turn out quite according to plan, and Emilia Greenleaf (Portman) certainly never imagined herself the shunned stepmother. But after winning Jack (Scott Cohen) away from his wife Carolyn (Lisa Kudrow), she finds herself immersed in the cross-currents of a new hybrid family. Now second wife to her former lover, she's forced to work out new relationships with her unco-operative stepson and his acerbic mother, who is still very much in the boy's life.

Shadowing Emilia's every attempt to get to know the stubborn, precocious young William (Charlie Tahan) is the unbearable loss of a baby she and Jack had hoped would cement their new marriage. Ostracized for wrecking Jack's previous life and berated by Carolyn at every opportunity, Emilia increasingly distances herself from Jack, and is in danger of drowning in domestic disappointment.

Roos has made a career of crafting rich, layered roles for leading women. He allows his female characters to show the full range of their complicated selves, deepening our empathy as we follow their struggle. And he always leavens his portraits with humour. Watching Emilia grapple with William's elaborate dietary requirements is to glimpse what it's like to raise a child in Manhattan.


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My Year Without Sex (Australia)

It's August in Melbourne. As Natalie (Sacha Horler) and her husband, Ross (Matt Day), celebrate his birthday, she collapses. When she wakes up, she's in the hospital after emergency surgery for an aneurysm.

My Year Without Sex is for anyone who has suffered life's daily little challenges, only to get sideswiped by a massive one. This is what happens to Natalie, and her subsequent year-long trial ensures that she has little choice but to laugh and cry, often at the same time.

Ross and Natalie's two kids, two jobs and a dog mark them as a typical family. They deal with the typical things: school, cooking, sports, Christmas, goldfish, birthday parties, lice and bills. But when Natalie's illness hits and she becomes too frail to work or drive, she suffers a further breakdown of confidence and spirituality – one that she is unable to address until she meets Margaret (Maude Davey), a local cleric in the depths of a crisis of her own.


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Melodiya Dlya Sharmanki  (Melody for a Street Organ) (Russia)

Two strangely clad children walk the city streets on Christmas Eve as falling snow gently envelops everything in a powdery layer of magic. The pale-skinned youths look like a cross between dethroned royalty and homeless bums: the boy wears a luxuriously patterned coat and the girl a delicate muff, while both sport striking dark circles under their eyes.

It is a deep, dark night and Alena (Lena Kostyuk) and Nikita (Roma Burlaka) are alone after the death of their mother. Her meagre bequests – a princely coat made of curtain fabric and a queenly muff knit with loving care – are all the protection her children have against the world. Terrified at the thought of being separated, the stepbrother and stepsister board a train in search of their fathers in the big, bad city.

Kira Muratova spins her majestic web slowly and purposefully, weaving together alternating vignettes of her beloved duo. This fairy-tale world is not conjured out of thin air, but rather gives us a different take on what's already there: a train station haunted with the memory of a long-lost father; a department store doubling as Ali Baba's cave and the nine circles of hell; a clandestine street that refuses to be found. On their bizarre journey, the children discover endless rows of houses posing as shop windows to a vast array of lifestyles, with each door representing a different version of what we know and love: friends, family and shelter. But these motherless waifs are thrown out of every building.

Succumbing to Muratova's charming mercilessness, the stepsiblings learn their lesson over and over again: though we wish they could both live happily ever after, some people can never really find a place to call home.


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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #48 - 05. Sep 2009 at 16:45
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Gunther Strobbe (Kenneth Vanbaeden) is a thirteen-year-old boy growing up in the eighties. He lives in his grandmother's ramshackle house in a small Belgian town with his alcoholic father (a postman with more bars on his route than any of his colleagues) and three alcoholic uncles. Life in the household is clearly dysfunctional, yet it's hard to condemn the Strobbe men for their sins. Their hearts are in the right place – it's just that they can't seem to help turning everything around them into an unmitigated disaster. The Strobbes enter drinking contests, ride bicycles naked, pick up women, break furniture and invade their neighbours' homes to watch their beloved Roy Orbison on television. They teach vulgar songs to little girls and end up in hospital, then head right back to the bar the next day. Gunther is an observer in this broken home that reeks of cigarette smoke, spilled beer and sweat-stained clothes. He participates in his drunken uncles' shenanigans only to fit in, hiding his true passion for writing, which is ultimately his key to escaping this squalor.

It might have been the tear-jerker hit of the year if Ken Loach had been given the script, but in the hands of Felix van Groeningen, this film has the raw Flemish edge and black comedy that made Koen Mortier's 2007 Ex Drummer so memorable. Van Groeningen has adapted a widely read and acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel by Dimitri Verhulst into a film balanced with comedy and heartbreak, icy cynicism and poignant pathos. His depiction of small-town life, rife with gossip and class divisions, is spot on and sadly universal. The narrative is further buoyed by heart-wrenching performances not only from the young Vanbaeden, but also from Koen De Graeve as his father and stage actress Gilda De Bal as the grandma whose “heart is bigger than her pension.”


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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #49 - 10. Sep 2009 at 13:52
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Some more fabulous looking films. I was really looking forward to seeing 'The Road', but early reviews seem to be less than positive.
  
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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #50 - 10. Sep 2009 at 19:25
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definitely some intriguing prospects, though.  thanx for all the great reviews!
  
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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #51 - 11. Sep 2009 at 04:12
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This last batch shows me that boy actor led movies in Australia are definitely on the uptick.

Even though The Road is an American production, the lead boy is an Aussie (Kodi Smit-McPhee).
The only review I could find of it so far seems tolerable enough (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

The film I'm really interested in is The Boys are Back, a film that Scott Hicks (Shine, Snow Falling on Cedars, Hearts in Atlantis, Sebastian and the Sparrow, Freedom) directs. It already has US distribution, so its a given that it will eventually be readily available.
  
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Re: Spring Festival Releases
Reply #52 - 11. Sep 2009 at 05:14
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Hicks does seem to have some sort of affinity toward young performers, a lot of his stuff features youngsters. He gets good performances out of his cast. I doubt if "The Boys are Back" will do anything at the box office though. Thankfully this thread shows many movies are still getting made even though most will probably do nothing at the box office. I assume they make their money back through TV and DVD sales.
  
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Re: 2009 Festival Releases
Reply #53 - 18. Sep 2009 at 04:33
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In addition to the sources you mentioned cal, I think that the government helps with the funding in some of the countries where these films are made.

Next stop on the festival trail.

Frankfurt, Germany and the first kids fest of the school year, LUCAS.
While not nearly as prestigious as the Berlin Kinderfest, this year's LUCAS lineup offers a number of previously unknown (to me anyway) films.

Zamani baraye doust dashtan (A Time to Love) (Iran)

Because of his significant physical handicap, Babak stands out everywhere and is therefore unbelievably embarrassing to his brother Afshin. The worst is on the playground where the other children make fun of him. The situation escalates when his father loses his job and blames Babak. In order to ‘protect’ his family, he sees only one solution: Babak should remain isolated and alone at home in his room. When one of Afshin’s friends from school notices this one day, he tells his teacher the whole truth. The film depicts a family heavily burdened by shame and a lack of understanding for an illness, for whom the school finally becomes an integrative place.

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The setting is somewhere in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Rolanas moves with his father, who has recently separated from his mother, into a socialist housing development on the edge of a small city. He is followed with particular attentiveness by his neighbour Emilija, who is the same age as him, from the entrance to his balcony. Both are shy, and thus they only speak with one another from their balconies or secretly at night through the wall. In time a special friendship develops between them, but before it reaches the point of an actual first date, something tragic and unexpected befalls them, which again and again postpones the date. The Balcony is rich in the details of everyday life and intensifies through the viewpoints of the cautiously observant children. In the center of this atypical film stands the development of the special friendship of Rolanas and Emilija.

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In the little Swedish town of Valleby, preparations for the village fair are proceeding at full speed: this year the police chief will be honoured as the most popular citizen. At the same time, the infamous criminal Conny-Chameleon has just been let out of prison-and he still has a score to settle. Suddenly noteworthy things are happening in Valleby, which puts the two detectives Lasse and Maja on the case. They become ever more entangled in the case, and the police chief, who otherwise always stood on their side, also begins to suddenly behave very oddly. This exciting children’s detective story is elaborately constructed and lives not the least from its special play of colors.

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Re: 2009 Festival Releases
Reply #54 - 18. Sep 2009 at 05:02
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Mao Ker (Sunflower Seeds) (China)

Er Bao and Liang Zi live in a small village in China. Their families are very poor and sustain themselves through the animals they raise. One day, Liang Zi accidentally hits a chicken with his slingshot. He cares lovingly for the injured animal from then on, so that it will become healthy and lay eggs again. For, at least in the eyes of his mother, a hen that doesn’t lay eggs is useless. Er Bao also has animals in his care: a sow and her litter of piglets which grow ever increasingly close to his heart. But his parents already plan to sacrifice the animal for a family meal. With quiet images the film leads viewers into a strange world and accompanies two children through an important experience.

No picture found though  Cry

Some short films of interest at Frankfurt....



10-year-old Rasmus is sad that his parents never really listen to him. His father would like to make a professional football player out of him, even though Rasmus does’t like sports at all, while his mother sticks him in hideously patterned sweaters on account of which the other children always tease him. There is only one solution: run away! And so Rasmus records a tape for his unborn brother with all the important things which should make his life with their parents easier. When Rasmus suddenly disappears, his parents discover the cassette and immediately start a big search, though without success. But then they hear the end of the recording…

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The clever Milo wears glasses and lisps: at his school, therefore, he is rather an outsider, but he makes money by doing others’ homework. One day, however, he forgets to change his name on an essay, and the boys have a bad feeling when the rector summons them both. Then comes Milo’s latest misinvention in the nick of time: a microwave which is actually supposed to cool food, but instead spews a heap of slime and can send things back into the past. Can the two solve their problem with this time-machine?

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Washdays  (UK)

Although Kyle is already eleven years old, he still wets the bed every night. His mother doesn’t understand that at all, and she forces him to wash his sheets every morning before school. The only thing that this highly dubious ‘therapy’ accomplishes is that Kyle is often late to school. When his mother mentions the real reason for his tardiness in her excuse letter, he thinks it certain that she doesn’t want to help him with his condition. Abandoned, he resolves to find a solution on his own. Full of feeling and humour, this film gently explores a taboo theme. 

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Ekornet (The Squirrel) (Norway)

Frederik remembers nothing with such joy as the day when he and his father fed ‘their’ squirrel together in the woods. But now everything is different: his mother has a new boyfriend, and his beloved father is in prison. Frederik misses him very much, but he also has an idea of how to be closer to him: as a memento of their wonderful time together, he would like to bring the squirrel to his imprisoned father. But to put this plan in action is not at all simple and takes Frederik to his limits. The film shows in intense images how a child in a special situation is led to an unusual deed.

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Gargoyle  (South Africa)

The grade-schooler Vuyo lives with his older brother Themba alone in Johannesburg-a city in the Apartheid in which poverty and crime are everyday realities. But Vuyo is fortunate because he is allowed to go to school. He idolizes his teacher, who also especially cares for him. Since, however, his underpaid jobs are not even enough to pay for Vuyo’s school outing, Themba sees no other way than to make some money through illegal means. One day, however, he commits a fatal deed which puts the relationship between the brothers to a hard test.

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Hammerhead (UK)

To have his mother work in an aquarium is like a dream come true for Boris, who is a great fan of sharks. At the aquarium he likes to scare the visitors by jumping into the fish-tank. For his birthday, Boris convinces his separated parents to take a trip with him to the coast, where a shark has recently been sighted. But unfortunately Leila, of all people—his mother’s new girlfriend—accompanies them on the outing. With a terrifying trick, Boris sees to it that the grownups come together and he becomes the centre of attention for the day. The film zestfully grapples with the serious theme of parental separation.

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Re: 2009 Festival Releases
Reply #55 - 20. Sep 2009 at 09:34
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Another one from Vence...

has this been mentioned already?

Je suis heureux que ma mère soit vivante (2009)

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Sorry didn't have time to check properly.
  
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Re: 2009 Festival Releases
Reply #56 - 20. Sep 2009 at 16:14
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Je suis heureux que ma mère soit vivante was also a selection in Montreal and was discussed as a possible film to see by joseph. I didn't profile it because Vincent Rottiers  (he of Les Diables 2002) was listed as the lead and he would be 22 or so now. I figured this meant the time spent in his character's childhood or adolescence would be minimal. The promo pics from Outnow suggest otherwise though....  and Claude Miller, the director, has produced a number of films of interest (Class Trip, A Secret, Betty Fisher and Other Stories, The Best Way). Here's the plot.

I'M GLAD THAT MY MOTHER IS ALIVE

Our identities are clothes the shapes of which were designed by our childhood. Between the age of 7 and 20, Thomas was looking for Julie, his birth mother. Unknown to his adoptive parents, he would find this woman who had abandoned him at the age of four and start a parallel life with her. But as the saying goes: You shouldn't bet on two winning horses. "The presence of those who raised us, our parents, has a profound influence on who we become. But what happens when these important figures are absent from our lives?... I don't believe that because a certain woman is our biological mother that we automatically bond with her. The fact that Thomas never knew his mother suggests the possibility of an attraction built on love. As soon as they meet, they are a young woman and a young man face to face. This is the way the film is acted and shot. This is one of the things about the subject that so interested me." -- Claude Miller

  
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Re: 2009 Festival Releases
Reply #57 - 20. Sep 2009 at 16:27
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While I'm thinking about it, Korkoro won the grand prize at Montreal this year. The director who gave us Ovidiu Balan and Oscar Copp has a new discovery, Mathias Laliberté.

Here is a picture of Mathias, his director and key cast members at Théâtre Maisonneuve in Montreal.

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Re: 2009 Festival Releases
Reply #58 - 26. Sep 2009 at 05:12
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Pusan, South Korea will be screening some films of possible interest.

Children Metal Divers (Philippines)

A 'cinema verite' style film filled with snapshots of young kids jumping in the ocean to collect junk in the slums of Baceko Philippines. These children, known as the Bakal Boys, frequently get hurt and suffer from skin irritation and they also lose their hearing ability and their lives. The Bakal Boys, 9-year-old Utoy and 12-year-old Bungal, are close friends almost like brothers. Despite other people's concern, they keep picking up junk in the sea and selling it. One day, after gathering and selling a vast amount of junk, Bungal disappears and Utoy starts looking for him. But Utoy cannot find Bungal.
Director Ralston Jover maximizes the realistic portrayal of kids from the slums by starring real bakal boys and using a documentary style. Thus, the life of them weighs heavily down viewers' mind.


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God Lives in the Himalayas (Nepal)

In the Himalayan foothills, ten-year old Siddarth's mother is killed and his father burnt during a religious ceremony. Siddarth is shocked as to why God did this. The question consumes his mind and he searches for God to ask him why.

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How Are You Dad?  (Taiwan)

A father can have many different kinds of faces. Which one does your father have? This is a film of ten short stories, and each shows a different relationship between a father and his son. Each story reveals the complexity between fathers and sons.

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The Warmest (China)

Zicong lives with his graduate student father and mother who is still in college. Their busy lives mean that little time has been devoted to Zicong. He is later forced to care for his grandfather, and the two of them bond.

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Re: 2009 Festival Releases
Reply #59 - 26. Sep 2009 at 05:18
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Hi Zab.  Smiley
All of those movies sound interesting, especially the one about the boys who dive for scrap metal. Since they are being shown in Korea though I wonder if they'll ever make it here to the US.
  
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