Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 Sundance Film Festival - World Cinema Dramatic Competition

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival opens today, and here is a quick look at the 14 films by emerging filmmakers from all corners of the globe screening in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition category.

Again a list of interesting titles with one I've actually already seen, Chile's entry to the 2012 Oscars race Violeta Went to Heaven.  There are also a few interesting titles including a second Chilean film called Young & Wild, about a teenager who uses blogging as a sexual outlet;  L, which looks like a surreal gem of a film from Greece, home it seems, to a budding new wave of weirdness started by 2009's Dogtooth; and one of my most anticipated films of 2012, Wrong, Quentin Dupieux aka Mr. Oizo's follow-up to his 2010 film Rubber.

About the Pink Sky / Momoiro sora o
Keiichi Kobayashi Japan, 113 min.
Ai Ikeda, Ena Koshino, Reiko Fujiwara, Tsubasa Takayama, Hakusyu Togetsuan.
Izumi, a headstrong high-school girl with a cheerfully cynical outlook—she routinely “rates” the newspaper by assigning articles positive or negative values—finds a wallet containing 300,000 yen (almost $4,000) and the owner’s ID: Sato, a wealthy high-school boy. Instead of returning it, Izumi lends a hefty sum to an older fishing buddy with financial problems. Her classmates Hasumi and Kaoru later force her to return the wallet to Sato, but, unable to account for all of the money, Izumi agrees to help him console a friend in the hospital by creating a newspaper containing only “good news.”
Rasit Çelikezer Turkey, 106 min.
Selen Uçer, Serdar Orçin, Berkan Demirbag, Erkan Avci
Loving Istanbul couple Ayşe and Cemal need only a child to complete their life together, but they cannot conceive. To salvage Cemal’s pride, they resort to illegal means to procure a baby. This wild grab at a more perfect life proves their undoing, leading the couple to spiral toward separate futures. The couple's estrangement is intertwined with the film’s parallel narrative, in which a distant and neglectful single mom is raising her little boy, Can.
Father's Chair / A cadeira do pai
Luciano Moura Brazil, 88 min.
Wagner Moura , Mariana Lima , Lima Duarte, Brás Antunes
Theo is living the good life in an upscale Brazilian neighborhood. He’s a hardworking doctor, husband, and father. However, Theo has chosen his career over his family, and little by little he discovers that his world is crumbling around him. His beloved mentor and surrogate father is dying, and his wife announces that she wants a divorce. Yet nothing prepares him for the day when he comes home to discover that his 15-year-old son, Pedro, has disappeared. Theo takes to the road in search of his son. In a journey that leads him throughout Brazil, Theo discovers what really matters to him. Searching for his missing son, Theo finds himself.
Four Suns / Čtyri slunce
Bohdan Sláma Czech Republic, 105 min.
Jaroslav Plesl, Aňa Geislerová, Karel Roden, Jiří Mádl, Klára Melíšková
Jára lives in a cramped apartment with his wife, Jana, their toddler, and Véna, his teenage son from a previous marriage. A man who has never actually grown up, Jára loses his job at a factory when he’s caught smoking pot, and his wife’s patience is wearing thin. Jára spends too much time with his friend, Karel, an oddball, New Age mystic. Jana, meanwhile, tries to connect with Véna, who has started drinking, skipping school, and hanging out with some disaffected punks. Nevertheless, Jára decides to go along on a road trip to find Karel’s spiritual master.
Babis Makridis Greece, 87 min.
Aris Servetalis, Makis Papadimitriou, Lefteris Mathaios, Nota Tserniafski, Stavros Raptis
A man lives in his car. He’s 40 and separated from his wife and kids, who live in a different car. They meet in parking lots. A professional driver, the man delivers honey to a narcoleptic man and often dreams of his friend, who was killed when a hunter mistook him for a bear. Frequently late delivering honey, the man is fired, and his driving skills are questioned. Thrust into existential uncertainty, he abandons “car life” and joins a rogue motorbike gang.
The Last Elvis / El Ultimo Elvis
Armando Bo Argentina, 92 min.
John McInerny, Griselda Siciliani, Margarita Lopez
In the unique world of the Buenos Aires celebrity-impersonator scene, “Elvis” Gutiérrez is a star. By day, though, he must contend with a dead-end factory job and an ex-wife who worries about how his obsessive behavior affects their young daughter, Lisa Marie. Feeling more connected to his persona as the King than to his own family, Gutiérrez retreats from reality until a tragic accident interrupts his plans and forces him to grapple with his real-world responsibilities.
Madrid, 1987
David Trueba Spain, 104 min.
José Sacristán, María Valverde, Ramon Fontserè
On a hot summer day in Madrid during a significant year of social and political transition in Spain, Miguel, a revered older journalist, meets with a beautiful young student, Ángela, in a café. She wants to interview him for a project. He, with sexual intentions, suggests they go to his friend’s studio nearby. Somehow they end up locked in a bathroom together, naked, with no rescue in sight. Removed from the outside world, the pair, who represent polarized generations, begin a complex duel. On the surface, it seems a setup of unequal age, intellect, ambition, and experience, but over 24 hours, power and desire transfer from person to person.

My Brother the Devil
Sally El Hosaini UK, 105 min.
James Floyd, Saïd Taghmaoui, Fady Elsayed
Fourteen-year-old Mo is a lonely, sensitive boy whose hunger for the rant and banter of buddies makes him prone to tread dangerous territories. He idolizes his handsome older brother, Rashid, a charismatic, well-respected member of a local gang, whose drug dealing enables “Rash” to provide for his family. Aching to be seen as a tough guy himself, Mo takes a job that unlocks a fateful turn of events and forces the brothers to confront their inner demons. It turns out that hate is easy. It is love and understanding that take real courage.
Teddy Bear
Mads Matthiesen Denmark, 93 min.
Kim Kold, Elsebeth Steentoft, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, David Winters, Allan Mogensen
In the opening moments of Teddy Bear, a colossal, laconic man tries and fails, over shrimp cocktail, to make small talk with his date. Such is the fascinating paradox of Dennis, a champion bodybuilder whose impressive physical prowess does not defeat his social discomfort or solitude. At home after the date, Dennis reflexively lies to a voice behind a door. That voice, we soon learn, belongs to Dennis’s fragile, birdlike mother, who wields a powerful hold on his heart. This maternal anchor by no means allays his chronic longing for love, so he musters the courage to embark on a quest. In Thailand, amid sex tourists, monolithic hotels, and local gym rats, Dennis begins to overcome his fears and personal limitations.
Valley of Saints
Musa Syeed India, USA, 82 min.
Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, Mohammed Afzal Sofi, Neelofar Hamid.
Widely considered to be the crown jewel of Kashmir, Dal Lake is a sprawling aquatic community where erupting political violence often distracts from the natural beauty. Gulzar, a young, working-class boatman, plans to skip town with his best friend in search of a better life, but a week-long military curfew derails their departure. Forced to wait it out, Gulzar takes a job assisting a pretty scientist named Asifa. As they navigate the floating landscape, collecting water samples for an environmental study, an unlikely relationship blossoms between the two. When Asifa’s research reveals harmful pollutants, Gulzar realizes that the ecology of the lake and an entire way of life face an alarming threat, and everything in his own life begins to take on a new hue.
Wish You Were Here
Kieran Darcy-Smith Australia, 93 min.
Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr
Expectant parents Alice and Dave join Alice’s younger sister, Steph, and her new boyfriend, Jeremy, on an impromptu tropical getaway in Cambodia. But following Jeremy’s abrupt disappearance, the others must attempt to return to their normal lives in Sydney. The shell-shocked survivors' recovery begins to fall apart when a stinging truth about their time in Cambodia is revealed. The three must contend with the fallout, along with the looming threat of further revelations about that fateful night.
Quentin Dupieux France, USA, 94 min.
Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexis Dziena, Steve Little, William Fichtner
Dolph Springer wakes up one morning to realize he has lost the love of his life, his dog, Paul. During his quest to get Paul (and his life) back, Dolph radically changes the lives of others: a pizza-delivering nymphomaniac, a jogging-addict neighbor in search of completeness, an opportunistic French-Mexican gardener, and an off-kilter pet detective. In his journey to find Paul, Dolph may lose something even more vital—his mind.
Young & Wild
Marialy Rivas Chile, 90 min.
Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Kuppenheim, María Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto
Daniela is a petite, pretty teenager raised in the bosom of a strict and well-to-do evangelical family in Santiago, Chile. Daniela is also a 17-year-old who finds that her raging sexual drive is difficult to reconcile with the orders of her religion. With no outlet for her desire, Daniela taps into a rampant underground network of other horny teenagers through her sexually charged blog. As she types the gospel of her life as a fornicator online, Daniela still goes to church and prays to Jesus, “Lord, see to it that Mother doesn’t type!”


Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Yes Two Days in New York looks hilarious.  I loved the first one.

365 moviesandsongs365 said...

Actually just went through all the Sundance mini-guide list on imdb today, and added the films I find most interesting to my to-see-list on my blog. Two Days in New York I'm dying to see, and the trailer for About the Pink Sky was memorable. And tomorrow of course the oscar noms...

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 I know it would be a blast.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah I can't wait to see that.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I heard about that, seemed like an odd idea to me at the time but we'll see how it goes.

d_4 said...

All this is very exciting and all, but the fact that Wrong exists probably stole the spotlight for me.

Beasts in Human Skin said...

The synopsis of the Greek film made me laugh.  It sounds awesome!

The Angry Lurker said...

Would love to attend something like this.....

FrontRoomCinema said...

We are getting SUNDANCE LONDON this year which I hope to get a press pass for. I hope they bring some of these over!!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Sadly many of them probably won't ever see the light of day, but it's interesting to read about them.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Yes Two Days in New York looks hilarious.  I loved the first one.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Yes Two Days in New York looks hilarious.  I loved the first one.

NeverTooEarlyMP said...

Thanks for posting these! I had seen the list, but hadn't gotten a chance to read all of the synopses yet.

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