Freedom, obsession and discrimination, it’s all here. And in Poland, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sweden and South Africa. First, there’s Jafar Panahi’s Closed Curtain, his fictional follow-up to his self-facing documentary This Is Not A Film. Still filming within the secrecy of his own four walls (against a court order), Panahi has created a claustrophobic and complex blend of fiction, documentary and metaphor – with a professor alter ego, a rebellious girl and the director himself, as well as his home on the Caspian Sea (and his back catalogue of films). It’s personal and utterly perplexing, but nevertheless a fascinating insight into the hidden world of the director’s imprisonment.
Equally bleak is Danis Tanovic’s An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker, a double Silver Bear winner at this year’s Berlinale. It recreates the tragic events that befall a Roma family in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who living on the breadline and without social security, come a cropper when the mother is refused a life-saving operation following a miscarriage. Shot on a micro-budget, An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker is intensely moving as the family recreate their misery in front of the camera.
Taking a completely different tack to his previous film, The Woman In The Fifth, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida is a thoughtful monochrome look at an orphaned nun rediscovering her family’s past, as she discovers her parents were Jews killed in the Second World War. Exposing Polish collaboration with a Sixties twist, Ida is a beautiful insight into youth and faith on the cusp.
After a string of bleak arthouse features, Lukas Moodysson returns to form with We Are The Best, scripted by his comic-book-writing wife Coco and returning to a Swedish yesteryear familiar from Together and Show Me Love. The story of a misfit girl punk band, We Are The Best is a delightful and ebullient look at those teenage years when friends turn to rivals. And finally, there’s Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Of Good Report, a South African story of one teacher’s murderous obsession with a female pupil. Tarantinoesque in its style and bursts of violence, it’s shocking and rigorous (its main character barely speaking a word) but itself has little to say beyond the discrepancy in appearance between an educated teacher in glasses and a coldhearted killer. Also filmed entirely in black and white, like both Ida and Nebraska as well as Blancanieves and Frances Ha Of Good Report, while very South African, is also part of something more international, and monochrome.[/embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfPytPjV1xc