February 2015, arsenal cinema

45. Forum

LA MUJER DE BARRO, 2015

Recent Latin American cinema is a major focus of the 2015 Forum. Films from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico explore institutional, political and family-related violence and depict people who seek individual answers to social upheavals.

In an experimental and politically-accentuated montage, Marcelo Pedroso's image and sound-heavy satire BRASIL S/A (Brazilian Dream) condenses real and surreal images of Brazil in recent decades, creating an ecstatic cinematic experience. In Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher's directorial debut BEIRA-MAR (Seashore),a young man travels to the familys seaside holiday home to resolve a complicated inheritance matter for his father. An old friend accompanies him. This film tells gently of a long winter weekend, sexual awakening and new intimacy. MAR,a feature film made in Argentina by the Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor,also develops a complex portrayal of society from the superficially private life of a young couple whose vacation is disturbed when one of the mothers turns up. The Chilean feature film LA MUJER DE BARRO (The Mud Woman) by Sergio Castro San Martin accompanies the taciturn Maria back to a place where she once worked in the country and years ago underwent something terrible. This time, she takes precautions and when history appears to repeat itself, she takes fate into her hands. In LA MALDAD (Evilness), the Mexican director Joshua Gil tells of an old man preparing himself for death in the midst of an abandoned landscape, while another still has great plans for him. His decisiveness leads him to a city where the demands for political change are increasingly loud.

In the global comparison, exciting parallels often come to light in this year's Forum program. In LA SIRÈNE DE FASO FANI,Michel K. Zongo visits a textiles factory in Koudougou, Burkina Faso years after it closed down, portraying the former employees and their attempts to once again make textiles as a collective. The film confirms the failure of socialist utopias in the battle against unbounded liberalism, but at the same time it tries to sow hope and a spirit of resistance. Nikolaus Geyrhalter's three-hour observation ÜBER DIE JAHRE,which emerged over a long period, is a multi-layered panorama of post-industrial reality and life itself that takes the demise of an old textiles factory in Austria's Waldviertel region as its starting point.

Silvina Landsmann's documentary HOTLINEis about the dramatic situation of African refugees  held in Israeli jails, accused of being illegal border crossers. The director depicts the work of committed and courageous civil rights activists in great detail, portraying their fight against arbitrary (in)justice and social ostracism and thereby situating a local problem in a much wider context. The Serbian director Vladimir Tomić's found-footage film FLOTEL EUROPAachieves something similar. Using VHS footage of a floating reception center for Bosnian refugees in the port of Copenhagen from the 1990s, he tells the story of young people caught between two worlds.

This year's program will open with the Canadian director Guy Maddin's new film. THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, which was co-directed by Evan Johnson, is based on stories about and images from several lost silent movies, whose adventurous plots are brought together in an amusing manner. The wild combination of absurd stories, performed by an international team of actors (that includes Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin and Udo Kier) develops into a fun homage to the art of telling stories.

The only German film in the program - HEDI SCHNEIDER STECKT FESTby Sonja Heiss -can also be considered a work of narrative daring, which juggles boldly between comedy and tragedy. Uli, Hedi and Finn are a happy family which makes a living from temping. Hedi in particular uses humor to combat all her negative experiences. When she suddenly starts having panic attacks, her daily life goes off the rails.

Eighteen years after Michael Haneke's version of Kafka's novel "The Castle" was screened in the Forum, the Chinese feature film Ktransposes the same material to a remote village in Inner Mongolia. This astoundingly contemporary work was made by Mongolian director Darhad Erdenibulag and his Welsh co-director Emyr ap Richard.

The Forum is also screening the restored versions of three lesser known films made by the Japanese director Kon Ichikawa between 1958 and 1963: ENJO(Conflagration), OTOTO (Her Brother) and the legendary Cinemascope vengeance-driven drama YUKINOJO HENGE (An Actor's Revenge). The South African feature films JOE BULLETby Louis de Witt andUMBANGOby Tonie van der Merwe are from a series of popular films made in the 1970s for a black audience with only black actors. The program closes with the 1950 Mexican film noir CUATRO CONTRA EL MUNDO (Four Against the World) by Alejandro Galindo and a documentary made in 1948 that remains just as pertinent today - STRANGE VICTORY, Leo Hurwitz's indictment of everyday racism in the US. (ct)