Once again, the Festival presents a wonderful selection of the best of today’s cinematography. These titles represent 22 countries and run for the Golden Astor Award, beautifully battling for the audience’s attention. Fourteen films make up this smart, sensitive and artistic corpus you ought to watch, highlight and recommend. Enjoy it!
5 Therapy, by Alisa Pavlovskaya - Ukraine - 2017 -  74’
Cathartic and intimist, Alisa Pavlovskaya documentary, based on the five autobiographic novels by Stas Dombrowski, a former drug addict and a criminal, exploits the screen with a story about resilience and self-awareness. Bordering the mockumentary, 5 Therapy delves into the self-destructing path of a man who learned at 17 that he was HIV positive. However, at the same, it lays out alternative paths of liberation, forgiveness and the search for self-love. A poet, a writer and an artist, Dombrowski plays himself to incarnate the light and the darkness we all carry within us.
Columbus, by Kogonada - USA - 2017 – 101’
Kogonada, film critic and visual essayist, unfolds, in its first feature film, a fascinating look of architecture as an organizing concept of space and the universe. He puts in front of the camera, with an intimist tone, the encounter of two very different people who, in circumstances of crisis and personal decisions, talk about the beauty of the buildings in Columbus, Indiana. The modernist buildings of geniuses as Eero Saarinen, Ieoh Ming Pei and Richard Meier are both excuses and witnesses of a warm introspection towards human emotions.
Good Luck, by Ben Russell - France, Germany - 2017 – 143’
Ben Russell surprises with this touching story shot in 16 mm with a well-chosen black and white.  Through a close documentary register, he casts light on the nature of the work in two mines: an underground copper mine in Bor, Serbia, and an open-pit gold mine in Brokopondo, Surinam, bordering illegality. With imagery of underground labor or that performed in the scorching sun, fused with close up of the protagonists, Good Luck deals with alienating work, political lack of interest and solidarity in the face of working conditions that happen to be inhuman.
Invisible, by Pablo Giorgelli - Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, France- 2017- 87’
The director of the multi-award winning film Las acacias (2011), this time points a sensitive camera at what is imperceptible. And he does it twice. Ely, a 17 years old teenager, lead her life as is she could escape the look of the others. Invisible is the protagonist in the eyes of the world and the conflict yet to come. Mora Arenillas unfolds the formidable interpretation of a young lady forced by the circumstances to grow up fast. Invisible crudely and hypnotically warns us about social lack of interest when it comes to supporting those who have no voice.

Primas, by Laura Bari - Canada, Argentina - 2017 - 100’

Laura Bari has that peculiar cinematographic pulse that is close to the heart. That is her magic. In an everyday environment, she finds a story that portraits it everything, that embellishes life. This time, after the unforgettable Antoine, -2009, 24th Festival- her camera follows two teenager cousins, Rocío and Aldana, who transcend the screen with a charismatic positive attitude. Both victims of violent acts who push them towards early adulthood, they manage to reach that meeting point where empathy and love make wonders. An example of resilience, Primas (Cousins), is a homage to the strength of the human spirit and the grandeur of the warming instants of friendship.
Ramiro, by Manuel Mozos - Portugal - 2017 - 104’
A lyric and a poet, Ramiro seems to be stuck in his comfort zone. His muses have abandoned him a long time ago and his life is routinary. Trapped in the bubble he is submerged in -his only company being his grandmother, a neighbor and his friends, who visit his bookstore- he spends the days in tedious comfort. Manuel Mozos manages to zoom in every act of the protagonist to unfold the beauty of a character that seems sad at first sight but hides, like a diamond in the rough, a precious and radiant potential.
Silence of the Wind, by Álvaro Aponte Centeno – Puerto Rico - 2017 - 84’
For his first feature film, Álvaro Aponte Centeno chooses to portrait the sordidness behind the stunning landscapes of Puerto Rico. In the contrast between visual beauty and the conflict of the illegal immigrants that arrive at the island, lies the narrative power of Silence of the Wind, which will have its international premiere at the Festival. The director masterfully manages to detect individual and collective tragedies from the core of the issue. With gorgeous scenes in visual terms, he delves into the cultural limitations given by language and identity that unleash a dormant violence.
The First Lap, by Kim Dae-hwan - South Korea - 2017 - 101’
In the limit between past and future, the fears of a young couple start invading the screen. Su-hyeon y Ji-young have been together for several years, until a point of inflection awakens the ghosts of unresolved issues. The family concept and the visit to their respective parents is a smart excuse to dig into social, cultural and generational differences in today's South Korea. Young director Kim Dae-hwan chooses, for this second film, to portrait this story in which the burden of decision making seems to be amplified by the others’ expectations.
Thelma, by Joachim Trier - Norway, Sweden, Denmark- 2017 - 116’
Love and guilt can be devastating forces. Joachim Trier transforms that idea into a smart and intense thriller and puts Thelma at the center of the scene, a teenager in the midst of sexual awakening with the weight of a body that is the reflection of her emotions. Literally. By resorting to supernatural forces, Trier builds a hypnotic character in this young woman, possessing powers not even she understands yet. Fluctuating between magic and reality, Thelma must find how to escape and liberate herself.
The Guardians, by Xavier Beauvois - France, Switzerland - 2017 - 134’
The adaptation of the namesake novel by Ernest Pèrochon, set in the rural France of 1915, delves into the conflicts following the First World War. Set in a farm where the power is in the hands of a matriarchy -since all the men were sent to the war- this feminist drama transcends the horror of the armed conflict to focus on the distressing struggle of women outside the battlefield. With a sensitive mastery, Xavier Beauvois leaves his indelible footprint, always focusing on the social dimension of the story.
The Nothing Factory, by Pedro Pinho - Portugal - 2017 - 176’
An interesting narration about the working conditions in Europe centered on a group of workers who face the calculating negotiations of their bosses to sort layoffs in an elevators factory in Lisbon. The strength of Pedro Pinho's solo second feature film lies in its narrative and how close the registry is to this conflict, unfortunately, so common nowadays. The struggle for power, the labor unions and the impotence of those who see their world crumbling to pieces organically amalgamate with political arguments, deep dialogs and intense musicals.
To the Desert, by Ulises Rosell - Argentina, Chile - 2017 - 94’
Where there’s nothing, sometimes lies the unspeakable. How do we describe what we haven't yet discover? In To the Desert, Ulises Rosell places two very different characters in the wonderful lonely landscapes of the South of the Patagonia. In a raid where the discovery of the other is forced, the inclemency of the environment will take the protagonists -interpreted by Valentina Bassi and Jorge Sesán- to push the limits of their own self-awareness. This atypical and intense road movie, with hints to the captive women from the 20th century, To the Desert, propose an exploration of the human spirit in the hostility of the conflict.
Wajib, by Annemarie Jacir - Palestine, France, Germany, Colombia, Norway, Qatar, UEA- 2017 -
Annemarie Jacir, the first Palestine woman to direct a film, -Salt of This Sea, 2008- is back on the game with this profound social and political critique of her country. Wajib presents from a defamiliarized perspective, the lifestyle in a region constantly in conflict. Shadi goes back to Rome for her sister's wedding. During those hours she spends in her motherland and after meeting her father -who has never left Nazareth- dormant differences among them will awake, as well as mutual reflections in the struggle for empathizing and understanding each other.
Western, by Valeska Grisebach - 2017 – 120’
A group of German workers starts preparing the ground for a new hydroelectric power plant in a rural town in Bulgaria. Foreigners arouse both curiosity and rejection towards what is different. The cultural and idiomatic barriers will prove to be a challenge and an abyss to overcome. Valeska Grisebach's third film is supported by a flawless narrative where everything is suggested and that profusely approaches integration and the immigration issue.


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