I think next year I might dial it back and just go to 50 films. I’m knackered.
Best films of the festival:
The Divine Order
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Worst films of the festival:
Did You Wonder Who Fired The Gun?
In The Name Of Peace: John Hume In America
Just out of Nae Pasaran, which would have brought a tear tae a glass een. A documentary about the East Kilbride workers who refused to service or ship the engines used by the planes of the Chilean dictatorship during the 70s. Their legacy is examined in first-hand accounts of surviving political prisoners who recount what news of acts of solidarity did for them during their internment and torture, including the discovery that some were even set free and given refuge in the UK in return for the prospect of gaining the engines.
The heroes that you walk past and don’t even know! A group of auld men from East Kilbride that you’d pass by on the bus, and their actions saved countless lives. At the start of the coup, the military dictatorship had two-dozen planes in the air, all armed with machine guns and missile launchers. Five years later they had 3, and those were in such a precarious state that they could only sent out on essential missions, as any damage could not be effectively repaired. That’s 5 years of taking nearly two-dozen planes out the air that had the capacity to slaughter countless people.
This film manages to strike the balance of being about both collectivism and individual contribution. The East Kilbride workers are modest, and although they describe starting the action in solidarity with the people of Chile, they point out that every single worker in that factory was part of that action, and it was the totality of their efforts that made the ‘blacking’ of the engines possible. This film is about little cogs that turn big wheels that turn the world. It does not call on larger-than-life heroics, but for each individual to follow their conscience and, if they see wrong, to refuse to participate in it. Collectively, that should be enough.
I know I have been guilty in recent years of having moments where I thought of all the things I’ve done, all the things I’ve participated in, and thought, “What is the point? The world is a darker, more racist, more unjust place than when you were a kid. You could have stayed home and done nothing and it would still have been the same. What a waste of time.” But this film is about how none of it is a waste. Because it lets the desperate know they are not forgotten, and every voice that’s raised encourages others to do the same. Those men never knew what their effect was, until now, 40 years later. Doing the right thing doesn’t require that you see the effect, or get a pay-off. It simply remains the right thing to do.
Everyone should see this film.
An Iranian film about a doctor who becomes obsessed with idea that he might be responsible for the death of a boy after they are in a minor car accident together. This despite the fact that the boy is found to have died of botulism from eating tainted meat and didn’t die until days after the accident. This despite the fact the accident was relatively minor, and not the doctor’s fault in the first place. But psychologically it rings true, because it is about the doctor’s guilt at not having declared the accident at the time of the autopsy, and feeling like he got away with something due to his silence. A good film.
The worst kind of Yes voter masturbatory persecution fantasy. Three friends sleepwalk into a dystopian future, unable to see the oncoming political threat over their attention-consuming everyday lives. Despite the heavy-handed nature of the story and having all the marks of a first film, it does achieve a warmth and sympathy for the characters and a naturalistic style for much of the drama.
An unrelentingly grim Russian film, that culminates in a weird dream sequence that you hope is shielding you from the awful thing that is actually happening to the main character, but no, it cuts back in time for you to see her vicious and explicit gang-rape in a ghastly, seemingly never-ending final scene.
A beautiful film about street children running from gangs in Mexico, and escaping into the world of their imagination and the unnoticed magic of the real world. Shades of Pan’s Labyrinth but also The Secret Garden, but set in a reality that’s utterly brutal.