A SUMMARY OF THE SECOND SET OF FILMS THAT WE'VE WATCHED
SEPTEMBER 30, 2022
(Bolivia, Spain, Iran)
We’ve now had the opportunity to watch 30 of the submissions. We are extremely thankful for everyone who's made this possible. Every single film is super special and made with so much passion and love. We feel it every time we watch a new film. Here are the newest 15 gems:
World War III completely shocked us and surprised us. It's the film that we haven't been able to stop thinking about and it's the reason why it tops our list. It's about a man who finally gets the opportunity of a lifetime to be an actor in a film. And at the same time he begins to fall in love with a woman. When these two worlds collide with one another, the outcome is as unpredictable as it comes. The way that director Houman Seyyedi has created this impeccable film that starts out as a comedy but ends up being one of the most frightful endings is something that is rarely achieved. This is the reason why we watch movies.
We also have three films that are about displacement: Alcarras, Domingo and the Mist and Utama. Alcarras is a film that hit us hard. The film starts out showing the tight-knit relationship between three generations of a family. They all live happily together amongst the peach trees, which they harvest every summer. All of that comes crashing down when the landowner wants to change the farm completely. The slow, devastating deconstruction of the family is heartbreaking. And the final shot will remain engraved for a long time. In Domingo and the Mist, we deal with a man who is being forced out of his house because a highway is being built right through his village. Domingo doesn't want to move. His entire life and memories are built in this place. And he will do anything to stay there, even resorting to violence. And lastly in Utama, a couple, whose lived in a tiny hut in the Andean Highlands are being forced out of their house but for a completely different reason: global warming. The happy couple are struggling to live in a place where it doesn't rain anymore. How can one survive in these extreme conditions? The film shows the devastating effects that these new weather patterns are causing in our world without ever mentioning it once in the film. It's a film that is perfection from start to finish.
(Costa Rica - Domingo and the Mist)
A Piece of Sky and A Ballad grapple with love and heartbreak in relationships and how hard it can be to let go. A Piece of Sky is one of the most beautiful and hard to forget films dealing with two young lovers who fall in love instantly and get married. But their world changes instantly when one horrible incident will forever change their lives. Can a woman forgive such a horrifying act? Is she supposed to move on when she loves her husband so much? Filmed up high in the mountains of Switzerland, this film leaves you thinking a lot about life and love and unfortunate situations that are without our control. In A Ballad, a woman is forced to leave her home and her child and return back to her mother's house to re-start her life. As the woman wants custody of her daughter, she quickly realizes that it'll be a long, hard road before that happens. The ending of relationships can get really messy and this film showcases that perfectly.
(Switzerland - A Piece of Sky)
Two films focus solely on strong, fearless, courageous women. In Cinema Sabaya we delve into the lives of eight women from completely different backgrounds as they begin a journey into filmmaking. Every week they submit a short film for their class and every week we get a larger glimpse into their lives. Every time we get to see them on screen, the more we want to get to know them. It was such a joy to watch this film. We laughed and we cried. In Immaculate we deal with a woman who's a heroin addict and is admitted by her mom into a rehab center. The problem she encounters almost immediately upon her stay is the complete attention she gets from all the male patients. This attention becomes problematic when it starts to become abusive. It's a difficult topic to watch on screen but the fearless direction allows this film to succeed. And all the torment is worth it just for the ending.
(Israel - Cinema Sabaya)
Victim is a film focusing on a Ukrainian mother and son who want to gain Czech citizenship. While the mother is away in Ukraine sorting out all the necessary documents, her son in Czechia suffers a horrible, violent assault. The mother scrambles to get back to her son, but soon after, the facts on the case begin to get a little shaky. Did he get assaulted? Or did something else happen? Either way, their prospects on gaining citizenship begin to get a little more complicated. Vita Smachelyuk is truly remarkable in such a tricky role, being a mother and only wanting what's best for her family.
(Slovakia - Victim)
We love to see African representation and we hope that more and more countries will submit films in the near future. Three fascinating films this year have come from Sweden (it's filmed in Egypt), Tunisia and Tanzania. In the Swedish film, Boy From Heaven, we get to see a glimpse into Al-Azhar in Cairo, which is the highest authority in Sunni Islam. A young boy gets accepted into the university to continue his studies and to gain more insight into his religion. But being so innocent and pure, he is thrust without warning into the politics between the state security and the church when the Grand Imam passes suddenly and a replacement needs to be made quickly. The Tunisian film, Under the Fig Trees, is a delicately told story in the day of the life of four young women. It's such a joy to watch these women share their stories amongst one another from love to secret crushes, to their hopes and dreams. The film is told is such a way that we know that they will experience so much more in life as they're just starting out. In the Tanzanian film, Tug of War, we see a man and woman fight for their freedom from British colonialism and oppression. They know the risk that comes with fighting for what's right and this film showcases this perfectly. And in the midst of all of this, these two extraordinary people fall in love.
(Tunisia - Under the Fig Trees)
And lastly in Alma Viva, we get to see the special bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. They both have a special skill: the spirit world can enter them easily. When the grandmother passes away suddenly, the granddaughter is determined to let her spirit go inside her. And what happens next is truly horrifying. This film touches on the afterlife and how hard it is to let go. But letting go is the right thing to do.
Now of these 15 films, there’s a chance that perhaps three of them will make the shortlist. If we had to pick three, and this is solely based on who we think will be nominated, we would single out the following:
Alcarras - After its debut at the Berlin Film Festival in February, the Spanish film became an instant frontrunner. Spain is a country that usually always makes it into the top 15, and if not, they are probably really close. Backed by Mubi and having a Metacritic score of 87 it feels like this film is a sure-bet. And to make it even more solid, the film is good. Really good.
Utama - South America hasn't been getting the recognition it deserves with this category but we feel like this will change soon, like this year. This film quickly became a favourite out of Sundance in January and it's been picked up by Kino Lorber. With a Metacritic score of 80, it's a film that's impossible not to like. The couple, the llamas, the story. It's all there from start to finish. And we cried. And we celebrated this remarkable story.
World War III - This film isn't getting the attention it deserves right now. It feels like a lot of people are unaware that this film even exists. But Iran is always a strong contender, as it has been the past couple of years. And the key thing to note is that the Academy members have to watch every film if they want to vote. So this movie will be seen when it counts. And it's a film that won't be forgotten.
We're now 1/3 done, so let's see what the next set of films have to bring. We will be watching Close, Corsage, EO and more very soon.