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Architectural treasure to house gems of European cinema

Art Film Fest’s European Corner to breathe new life into Košice’s Kino Slovan

A range of unique venues will host screenings at the 24th Art Film Fest (17–25 June) – among them will be Košice’s Historical City Hall. The beautifully preserved classicist edifice in the very heart of East Slovakia’s urban hub will be transformed into a centre for European cinema. Once home to the cinema Kino Slovan, the building was chosen by festival organizers to accommodate the programme section European Corner.  

Art Film Fest, TV JOJ start tradition with new award

European Corner has gained a prestigious sponsor, now that TV JOJ has taken the section under its wing. “The JOJ Group sees Art Film Fest as a prestigious international film festival with a rich history. As a media partner of the event, we intend our support to be both substantial and meaningful. That is why we have assumed patronage of European Corner, the festival’s section of European films, which will be screened in a Košice venue designated as JOJ Cinema,” revealed Marcel Grega, CEO of JOJ Group. But cooperation between Slovakia’s most prominent film festival and TV JOJ won’t end there. TV JOJ has also decided to start a new chapter in Art Film Fest’s history by adding another prestigious statuette to the festival’s range of awards: “We will recognize the best European film according to viewers with the 2016 JOJ Cinema Slovak Audience Award,” divulged the television channel’s management.

European Corner will offer Art Film Fest visitors the chance to enjoy the winner of the Berlinale’s grand prize, the Golden Bear – Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare), as well as the conceptually unique Polish-Irish film 11 Minutes, the Italian-French crowd-pleaser A Bigger Splash and many other fine products of Europe’s cinematic cuisine…

 

List of films in the European Corner section:

11 Minutes

Poland, Ireland – 2015

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski

“We tread on thin ice. We walk the edge of the abyss. Around every corner lurks the unforeseen, the unimaginable. The future is only in our imagination. Nothing is certain – the next day, the next hour, even the next minute. Everything could end abruptly, in the least expected way. (Jerzy Skolimowski)

With an original visual concept, the film’s parallel plotlines depict 11 minutes from the lives of several Warsaw inhabitants. Before the allotted time is up, a fateful circle of events connects the lives of several nuns, an A&E doctor and others who cross the city square, unaware that they’re walking right into an unforeseen catastrophe.

***

Frenzy (Abluka)

Turkey, France, Qatar – 2015

Director: Emin Alper

Istanbul is in the grip of political violence. Hamza, a high-ranking police officer, offers to release Kadir from prison, under the condition that he join a new intelligence unit of undercover municipal dustmen. Kadir accepts, and starts collecting rubbish from poor neighbourhoods while checking it for traces of bomb-making materials. After a time Kadir discovers that his younger brother Ahmet lives nearby, working for the city to exterminate stray dogs. But when Ahmet seems uninterested in a brotherly relationship, Kadir concocts conspiracy theories to explain his sibling’s distance.

This powerful film tells of “how the political system turns ‘little men’ into parts of its violent mechanism by providing them with authority and the instruments of violence. Whether this violence is directed at stray dogs or terrorists, these men follow orders – whether to fulfill their dreams or just to make a living. However, those same instruments turn against them, as an outcome of their own paranoia.” (Emin Alper)

***

Belgica

Belgium, France – 2016

Director: Felix van Groeningen

A story of two brothers. Charismatic, temperamental Frank is a husband and a father, but also an incorrigible skirt chaser. Ambitious but inexperienced Jo owns a bar called Belgica. The two team up to remake the dive into a wild venue for incredible music, the eternally young and non-stop fun…until they realize that running such a hip establishment is more than their professional skills and personal lives can handle, disrupting their families and relationships.

A major sensation at this year’s Sundance, Belgica brings the euphoric experience of Brussels’s hottest nightclub to the screen. Over a mesmerizing Soulwax soundtrack, we see the brilliant ascent and subsequent fall of the two brothers, a spellbinding metaphor for living in the here and now, and the consequences that change this seemingly permanent state in the blink of an eye.

***

A Bigger Splash

Italy, France – 2015

Director: Luca Guadagnino

It’s one hot summer on the island of Pantelleria,  where rock star Marianne spends her free time, hidden from the public eye while recovering from a voice condition. Her idyll with her younger boyfriend Paul is interrupted by the arrival of her friend and former lover Harry, accompanied by his young daughter Penelope. At first the four seem to get on well, but growing tension, desire and jealousy shatter their summertime repose, culminating in sudden tragedy.

This erotic thriller, loosely inspired by the classic La piscine (d. Jacques Deray, 1969) with Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, was screened in the main competition at the 2015 Venice IFF.

***

Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare)

Italy, France – 2016

Director: Gianfranco Rosi

Samuele is 12 and lives on an island in the Mediterranean, far away from the mainland. Like all boys of his age, he doesn’t always go to school, preferring to roam about and pursue his favourite pastimes instead. But this is no ordinary island. For years, it has been the destination of men, women and children trying to make the crossing from Africa in vessels of varying quality. Lampedusa, as it is known, has become a metaphor for the flight of refugees to Europe, embodying the hopes, hardships and fates of hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Observations of everyday life bring us closer to this island that is as real as it is symbolic, and to the emotional world of some of its inhabitants, exposed to a permanent state of emergency. Free of superfluous commentary, it shows the point of contact between two different worlds.

***

Lost in Karastan

Georgia, United Kingdom, Germany, France – 2014

Director: Ben Hopkins

English filmmaker Ben Hopkins and the prominent Paweł Pawlikowski (director of the Oscar-winning Ida) have joined forces to produce a satirical comedy about the international film business, which according to some critics “split[s] the difference between Borat and Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories.” The result is an entertaining film about British director Emil Forester, who accepts an invitation to present a retrospective of his films at a festival in the fictitious country of Karastan.  After arriving, he ends up in a series of bizarre situations, culminating in an offer from the dictator president to film the ultimate cinematic epic on the history of Karastan. Flattered, Emil agrees, but he has no idea what he’s getting into.

A fun and darkly comic satire about the cult of personality in politics, the film industry, people, artists and a country that may well have some basis in reality.

***

Our Kind of Traitor

United Kingdom – 2016

Director: Susanna White

Young British couple Perry and Gail are enjoying their holiday. One day they meet a Russian oligarch hunted by the mafia in his home country. He wants to establish contact with the British secret service and hopes the young couple will help him. But what does he know, and what are his motives? God only knows.

***

Tale of Tales

Italy, United Kingdom, France – 2015

Director: Matteo Garrone

This crowd-pleasing epic is inspired by the age-old tales of the fantastic chronicled by 17th-century Neapolitan poet Giambattista Basile. It is said that his works later influenced all of Europe’s great fairy-tale writers. The three stories feature aristocrats and rulers, princes and princesses with various vices, desires and afflictions, but also a menagerie of strange and supernatural creatures. Taken as a whole, the tales shape an extraordinary baroque-era mosaic with magnificent production design, not only as a clear reference to the history of art, but also as a gentle reminder of timeless human qualities and behaviour.

***

Team Spirit (L’Outsider)

France – 2016

Director: Christophe Barratier

The year is 2008. The global economy has been struck by the worst crisis since 1929. For the first, most conspicuous scandal that shook the world’s financial markets, a single person is allegedly responsible – stockbroker Jérôme Kerviel. The highest banking losses in history (nearly five billion euros!), incurred by the French bank Société Générale, were attributed to this only 31-year-old employee, who after graduating from the University of Lyon in 2000 began working at the bank as an ordinary clerk. No one could have suspected that this unassuming young man would dare to go so far, so fast. He because a star at the stock exchange, earning the nickname “the cash machine”. But could he, alone and in total secrecy, have really gambled on the biggest jackpot in banking history, totalling 50 billion euros?

Based on actual events, this spellbinding, brilliantly shot film has major audience appeal.

***

The Road to Istanbul (La Route d’Istanbul)

France, Belgium – 2016

Director: Rachid Bouchareb

Elisabeth lives with her 20-year-old daughter Elodie in an idyllic home in the Belgian countryside. When her daughter doesn’t come home one night, Elisabeth doesn’t worry, since she was planning to overnight at her friend’s. But when the police inform her that Elodie has left the country to join the Islamic State, she is stunned. A video is discovered revealing that her daughter led a double life. Elisabeth can’t understand why her daughter decided to so radically change not only her own life, but her mother’s as well. Despite officials’ warnings, she decides to seek her out, starting in Turkey.

Well-known director Rachid Bouchareb addresses a heated, relevant topic here. A mother’s journey from the order of the West to the chaos and violence of regions in crisis is a suggestive metaphor for the profound hopelessness of losing a loved one for no apparent reason.

***

On the Other Side (S one strane)

Croatia, Serbia – 2016

Director: Zrinko Ogresta

Vesna, a nurse, lives with her two adult children in Zagreb. Her son is married and his wife is expecting their second child; her daughter is engaged, and all seems well in the world. 20 years ago, Vesna moved to Zagreb intending to forget the war in Bosnia and the acts of her husband, Žarko. But one day the phone rings and she hears Žarko’s voice on the line, unleashing a mixture of hatred, love, hope and disgust. Should she trust a man who once caused her and so many others such unbearable suffering?

***

Saint Amour

France, Belgium – 2016

Directors: Benoit Delépine, Gustave Kervern

For Bruno, the agricultural show in Paris marks the high point of his year, which means tasting France’s finest wines and enjoying himself to the fullest. His father Jean, however, has a different aim in mind: to win a prestigious prize with his pedigree bull. Bruno has had enough of farm work and wants to get out of the family business. But Jean loves his son, so he decides to take him on a real vineyard tour through the French countryside.

The seventh collaboration of this successful filmmaking duo, whose pictures are regularly screened at prestigious film festivals, provides a sensitive, funny look at a father-son relationship. Connoisseurs should be on the lookout for a cameo by noted author and philosopher Michel Houellebecq. Saint Amour was screened in the official selection at the 2016 Berlinale.

***

Schneider vs. Bax

Netherlands – 2015

Director: Alex van Warmerdam

Contract killer Schneider receives an assignment on, of all days, his birthday. His target: writer Ramon Bax. He’s reluctant to take the job, but upon hearing that the whole thing will be wrapped up before lunch, allowing him to help his wife prepare the party, he takes it. But the routine hit soon turns into a bizarre flurry of lies, freak accidents, bad decisions, poor timing and very costly mistakes.

On a miniature canvas, this Dutch master of the black comedy applies his most refined technique for a work that will enthral and delight every film aficionado.

***

United States of Love (Zjednoczone stany miłości)

Poland, Sweden – 2016

Director: Tomasz Wasilewski

A suggestive portrait of four women in a small, provincial Polish town at the onset of the 1990s. Agata is attracted to a priest, secretly observing him. Iza is a head teacher who is having a long-standing affair with a married doctor. Russian teacher Renata seeks a closer relationship with her young neighbour Marzena, who teaches sport dancing and dreams of a career as an international model.

Shot in desaturated colours and muted contours, this drama reflects upon attempts to escape an environment of dismalness and hostility – towards bodies, people and society. Wasilewski’s subject is the death throes of a society, which is preceded by the emotional crippling of the individual.

 

Art Film Fest – a new city, a new programme and new ways to have a great time!

Organizers: ART FILM FEST, s.r.o., Forza, a.s.

Co-organizers: The City of Košice, K13

The festival is held under the auspices of Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic Robert Fico.

Financial support: The Audiovisual Fund

Main Sponsors: InVestito, Transpetrol, Slovenská pošta, Slovnaft, Kosit

Official festival automobile: Hyundai

Official carrier: ČSA

Logistics partner: DHL

Official festival hotel: Hotel Yasmin

Sponsors: Herberia, Ida Sandor, HC Košice, Imperator, Stella Artois

Exclusive festival cinema: Kino Úsmev

Official suppliers: NOV s.r.o. Zebra, Budiš, Tikoki, Barzzuz, Livina, Jean Charles-Cafe de Paris

Main carrier: Železničná spoločnosť Slovensko

Official festival daily: Košice Dnes

Main media partners: Radio and Television of Slovakia, Nový Čas

Media partners: Rádio FM, Rádio Regina, Korzár, SME, JOJ Cinema, aktuality.sk. Rádio Košice, Film Europe Channel, Forbes, Kam do mesta, webnoviny.sk,TV NAŠA

Partners: Kino Úsmev, Autocont, Congress Hotel Centrum, Carpano, Casablanca cafe, Hotel Maraton, DigitalOcean, Tabačka Kulturfabrik, The Cuba Libre, SSUŠ Filmová, Hotel ROCA, Czech Tourism Slovensko, Bratislava Region Tourism, Pan-European University, Translata, predpredaj.sk