At the 25th Košice Art Film Fest, the competition for the festival’s grand prizes will include two majority-Slovak coproductions. Vying for this year’s Blue Angel are Slovak filmmaker Tereza Nvotová’s thesis film Filthy and Slovak/Hungarian/French/Czech coproduction Out, fresh from the competition at Cannes. Both films will be presented in their Slovak premieres; so far they have only been screened abroad. “There have been years when we couldn’t nominate a single Slovak film for the main competition. But this is the first time ever that Slovakia is represented by not one, but two films.” says Art Film Fest artistic director Peter Nágel.
This year’s cinematic showdown pits fiction feature debuts against second and third films of directors who already have notable accolades from respected festivals under their belts. 12 pictures in all will compete for the festival trophy – the Blue Angel.
PURE HEARTS/CUORI PURI
Director: Roberto De Paolis, debut
An emotionally delicate tale of two young people from very different backgrounds. Their touching trysts are composed of fleeting moments they refuse to share with anyone else.
World-premiered at Cannes 2017 in the Directors’ Fortnight section, the film features Barbora Bobulova in a major role – this Slovak actress, born in Martin, has been among Italy’s most respected actresses since the 1990s.
AFTER THE WAR/DOPO LA GUERRA
Director: Annarita Zambrano, debut
A political thriller set at the turn of the millennium, when the murder of a judge in Bologna stirs up an old dispute between Italy and France. The film was screened at Cannes 2017 in the Un Certain Regard section. It is also the second film in the competition to feature Barbora Bobulova.
THE EREMITES/DIE EINSIEDLER
Director: Ronny Trocker, debut
The authentic story of an isolated farm high up in the Alps, where tradition, in the form of a stern farmer, meets the future: her son, who has his sights set on a different way of life. The film was premiered at the Venice FF in the Horizons section.
Director: Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, debut
An enchanting coming-of-age tale set in a remote Icelandic village, where two teenagers, as summer ends, have to painfully leave their carefree childhood behind and face the trials of growing up.
The film had its world premiere in the Biennale’s Venice Days section and went on to receive awards and accolades at numerous festivals, including eight national Icelandic Edda Awards such as Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director.
THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT
Director: Tarik Saleh, third film
The compelling story of a corrupt detective over the backdrop of the Arab Spring in Egypt, this film was a major discovery at Sundance, winning the Grand Jury Prize.
Slovakia/France/Hungary/Czech Republic, 2017
Director: György Kristóf, debut
The bitterly comic odyssey of unemployed Ágoston, who heads from East Slovakia to the faraway Baltics in search of happiness and purpose.
This is the first picture in the history of Slovak cinema to make it into the official selection at Cannes, where it competed in the Un Certain Regard section.
Director: Bartosz M. Kowalski, debut
This disturbing film pointedly asks when and why violence among children is rising unchecked.
The film premiered at San Sebastián, and it won the prize for best first or second film and the Don Quixote Award from the Polish Film Club Federation at the Gdynia Film Festival.
Director: Kirsten Tan, debut
A charming road movie that brings together a renowned architect and an elephant. Together, they encounter a series of banal situations that speak to today’s world much more than any earnest statement would.
The film won the Screenwriting Award at Sundance and was also awarded at Rotterdam.
Director: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov, third film
In this savage comedy, an ordinary railway worker learns that in today’s world, bravery and honesty are nothing more than the butt of jokes. After its Locarno premiere, the film went on to win awards at multiple festivals.
Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2017
Director: Tereza Nvotová, debut
An intimate portrait of a teenage girl whose coming of age is forever marked by a horrifying experience.
Slovak filmmaker Tereza Nvotová’s thesis film was world-premiered at Rotterdam in the Bright Future section.
Director: Valeska Grisebach, third film
A group of German builders come to work in the godforsaken Bulgarian hinterland. Language barriers and cultural differences give rise to mistrust, which in turn escalates into overt conflict. The film was screened at this year’s Cannes IFF in the Un Certain Regard section.
MAD WORLD/YAT NIM MOU MING
Hong Kong, 2016
Director: Chun Wong, debut
A powerful chamber drama about a former financial analyst suffering from a severe case of bipolar disorder and his father, a lorry driver, who reluctantly takes him into his care.
The film was world-premiered at Toronto, and back home at the Hong Kong Film Awards, it won Best New Director; it also earned the same award at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Festival.
Art Film Fest 2017’s Blue Angel winners will be chosen by a five-member international jury consisting of Alexandra Borbély, a Hungarian actress with Slovak roots; director Juraj Lehotský; Palestinian actress Samar Qupty, returning to Košice after winning last year’s Blue Angel for Best Actress for her performance in Junction 48; Tomáš Weinreb, Czech director and producer of the film I, Olga Hepnarova; and Jean-Marc Thérouanne, French historian and festival curator.