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10 European Directors to Watch to Get Karlovy Vary Spotlight

By Brian Brooks | Indiewire June 9, 2011 at 4:31AM

Two Tribeca Film Festival winners, including best feature winner Lisa Aschan ("She Monkeys") and best screenplay winner Jannicke Systad Jacobsen ("Turn Me On Goddammit") are among the filmmakers named by film group European Film Promotion as one of the 10 European discoveries to watch. The group will be featured at the upcoming Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the sidebar, "Variety's Ten Euro Directors to Watch," at the invitation of the festival and EFP July 3 - 4, coinciding with the festival. This year's ten were selected by Variety's international critics.
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Two Tribeca Film Festival winners, including best feature winner Lisa Aschan ("She Monkeys") and best screenplay winner Jannicke Systad Jacobsen ("Turn Me On Goddammit") are among the filmmakers named by film group European Film Promotion as one of the 10 European discoveries to watch. The group will be featured at the upcoming Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the sidebar, "Variety's Ten Euro Directors to Watch," at the invitation of the festival and EFP July 3 - 4, coinciding with the festival. This year's ten were selected by Variety's international critics.

The ten European directors to watch with descriptions and credits provided by European Film Promotion and written by Variety's Alissa Simon:

Lisa Aschan ("She Monkeys," Sweden) - Delivering one of the most intense and complex feature debuts to come from Sweden since Lukas Moodysson's "Show Me Love," director Lisa Aschan thrillingly subverts the coming-of-age genre, political correctness, gender roles and just about everything to do with the depiction of developing sexuality in the taboo-breaking She Monkeys. Winner of the Gothenburg fest's Nordic film prize and critics' award, and Tribeca's Best Narrative, the film plays with traditional expectations in an unsettling manner that feels tantamount to dangerous..."Monkeys" centers on sisters Emma, a talented teen gymnast, and Sara, a precocious 7-year-old. When Emma joins a riding stable where girls train to perform acrobatics on horseback, she meets the slightly older Cassandra and the two begin a relationship fraught with physical and psychological challenges.

Delivering one of the most intense and complex feature debuts to come from Sweden since Lukas Moodysson's "Show Me Love," director Lisa Aschan thrillingly subverts the coming-of-age genre, political correctness, gender roles and just about everything to do with the depiction of developing sexuality.

Claudio Cupellini ("A Quiet Life," Italy) - A psychological thriller of unusual depth, "A Quiet Life" represents a significant leap forward for sophomore helmer Claudio Cupellini, revealing a level of stylistic control and narrative force that should catapult him onto the list of Italian directors to watch. A rare international co-production that feels organically right, the pic boasts the considerable thesping talent of Toni Servillo as a marked man hiding from his mob past. In the quiet forests near Wiesbaden, Germany, Rosario runs a restaurant-hotel with his German wife, Renate. Out of the blue, two young Italians show up... The choice of Hungarian d.p. Gergely Poharnok (Hukkle, Taxidermia) was inspired, as the talented lenser provides elegant yet chilly (and chilling) visuals that expertly play with setting characters together and apart.

A psychological thriller of unusual depth, stylistic control and narrative force, "A Quiet Life" is that rare international co-production that feels organically right It boasts the thesping talent of Toni Servillo as a marked man hiding from his mob past in the quiet forests near Wiesbaden, Germany.

David Dusa ("Flowers of Evil," France) - Capturing the energy and potential of the Internet and social media in an innovative and powerfully visceral way, ambitious experimental drama "Flowers of Evil" organically incorporates YouTube documentation of Iran's 2009 post-election demonstrations and the government's brutal reprisals into a tender love story set in Paris...An attraction blooms when footloose Parisian hotel clerk Rachid meets Anahita, a Tehrani college student exiled to the City of Light by overprotective parents who fear her political participation. But Anahita's worries over the rapidly unfolding events in her homeland, which she follows obsessively on her computer and smartphone, prevent her from participating wholeheartedly in the relationship. Director/co-writer David Dusa brilliantly uses the Internet as a narrative, structural and emotional tool.

Capturing the energy and potential of the Internet and social media in an innovative and powerfully visceral way, this ambitious drama organically incorporates YouTube documentation of Iran's 2009 post-election demonstrations and the government's brutal reprisals into a tender love story set in Paris.

Jannicke Systad Jacobsen ("Turn Me On, Goddammit," Norway) - A frank portrayal of adolescent eroticism, female division, which seldom gets portrayed onscreen at all, much less at the affectionately candid level explored here, the film is set in a less-than-vibrant burg of western Norway that everyone seems to hate; Alma and her pal Sara ritually flip off the sign that bears its name, Skoddeheimen, each time their school bus passes it. "Turn Me On," Goddammit concerns itself with a number of the usual teen-movie tropes, including the loyalty of best friends, the cruelty of adolescence and the torture inflicted on the young by their parents. The paramount issue, however, is Alma's burgeoning lust. Helmer Jannicke Systad Jacobsen interweaves Alma's fantasies, which involve just about anyone, with her day-to-day routine around the curiously named Skoddeheimen and her floundering flirtations.

An affectionately candid portrayal of female adolescent eroticism, which seldom gets portrayed onscreen, "Turn Me On, Goddammit" also concerns the loyalty of best friends, the cruelty of adolescence and the torture inflicted on the young by their parents. Best Screenplay, Tribeca Film Festival.

Zuzana Liová ("The House," Slovak Republic) - Small in scale but perfectly proportioned, contemporary drama "The House" marks talented Slovak director-writer Zuzana Liova as the equal of regional contemporaries such as Bohdan Slama and Alice Nellis when it comes to making universal the small, poignant moments of everyday life. Remarkable for its depth of characterization, this sensitively observed, intelligently made realist tale of generational conflict, is set in a remote Slovak village where old grudges die hard. Ambitious teen Eva is about to graduate from high school and eager to experience the world outside her pokey hometown. Meanwhile, her dour, controlling father is painstakingly building her a house on the family property. Liova's tightly constructed screenplay makes meaningful looks and repeated gestures speak louder than words about expectations and desires.

Ambitious teen Eva is about to graduate high school and eager to experience the world outside her pokey hometown. Meanwhile, her dour, controlling father is painstakingly building her a house on the family property. This contemporary drama makes universal the small, poignant moments of everyday life.

Alexandru Maftei ("Hello, How Are You?" Romania) - The antithesis of the grim naturalism of the best-known new Romanian cinema, helmer Alexandru Maftei's bittersweet romantic comedy "Hello! How Are You?" feels like a breath of fresh air, proving that even more commercial films can deliver emotional epiphanies. This witty, stylishly crafted tale centers on a husband and wife whose 20-year marriage has long since lost its zing, making them vulnerable to the enticements of an Internet chatroom. Musician Gabriel and dimpled dry-cleaning proprietress Gabriela live like two strangers who no longer see each other. But in humorous contrast to their staid, passionless lives, they are surrounded with characters in a constant state of sexual arousal. Maftei's striking, always-inventive compositions find visual equivalents for the fog of love and frustration his characters feel.

The antithesis of the grim naturalism of the best-known new Romanian cinema, the witty, stylishly crafted "Hello! How Are You?" centers on a husband and wife whose 20-year marriage has long since lost its zing, making them vulnerable to the enticements of an Internet chatroom.

Valdís Óskarsdóttir ("King's Road," Iceland) - In this agreeably quirky sophomore feature from Valdis Oskarsdottir, 30-something Junior has returned to Iceland from Germany after several years, with a mysterious German acquaintance in tow. Junior hopes his dad, Senior, might help him out financially, though the new villa of the former multimillionaire and full-time embezzler turns out to be a tiny mobile home in a trailer park at the end of the eponymous road. Senior's new wife, a former beauty queen, and Junior's grandmother, who keeps a stuffed seal as a low-maintenance pet, complete the crackpot family picture. However, they hardly qualify as the weirdest inhabitants of this Nowheresville trailer park, which is overseen by oft-furious, always-uptight janitor BB. The montage maestro of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind offers further evidence that she's a name to watch.

Thirty-something Junior returns to Iceland from Germany after several years, with a mysterious German acquaintance in tow. Junior hopes his dad, Senior, might help him out financially, though the new villa of the former multimillionaire and full-time embezzler turns out to be a tiny mobile home in a trailer park at the end of the eponymous road.

Yasemin Samdereli ("Almanya," Germany) - A breezy, colorfully styled comedy, Almanya centers on multiple generations of a German-Turkish clan and marks the feature debut of German helmer Yasemin Samdereli, who, along with younger sister/co-scribe Nesrin, wrote episodes of the popular Teuton soap "Turkish for Beginners." Deriving its broad humor from cultural misunderstandings and the question of what constitutes national identity, the narrative is neatly structured into two interwoven time frames. The first, set in the present, introduces the Yilmazes in their German home, as patriarch Huseyin insists that his family accompany him for a holiday in Turkey. The second strand follows young Huseyin in distant Anatolia, his arrival in 1964 Germany as the 1,000,001st Gastarbeiter and his family's gradual acclimatization -- if not assimilation.

Neatly structured into two interwoven time frames, breezy, colorfully styled comedy Almanya centers on multiple generations of a German-Turkish clan, and derives its broad humor from cultural misunderstandings and the question of what constitutes national identity.

Hans Van Nuffel (Oxygen," Belgium) - A touching portrait of youth facing mortality far too soon, "Oxygen" centers on Tom, a teen with cystic fibrosis, who rebels against the condition he and his elder brother Lucas were born with. While Lucas endures his more seriously challenged health with patience ("It could be worse. We could be sick in America. Or gay in Iran."), 17-year-old Tom hangs out with a group of ne'er-do-wells between hospital stays, taking part in their petty thefts and general rabble-rousing as an escape from dwelling on the fact that his life is likely to be short. Still, Tom's condition makes periods of confinement unavoidable. During one hospital stay, he meets fellow CF sufferer Xavier, a 30-ish guy who seems to have achieved the dream adulthood Tom might never reach: cool job (underwater photographer), cool car and hot girlfriend.

"Oxygen" centers on a teen with cystic fibrosis rebelling against the condition he and his elder brother were born with. This very personal film, one of the most awarded of the year, smartly skirts disease-of-the-week clichés to show appealing human beings trying to embrace life in spite of chronic illness.

Ben Wheatley "(Kill List," U.K.) - Displaying both a nasty edge and a playful sense of humor -- but thankfully, never at the same time - "Kill List" is several cuts above its fellow midbudget horror brethren. Artfully made and sensitively acted, this is a slippery, teasing thriller that trusts its audience to follow the kitchen-sink marital quarrels as closely as the things going bump in the night. Though a left-field final reel might divide audiences, it's an effectively twisted piece of work. Director/co-writer Ben Wheatley (making his second feature after genre-fest favorite "Down Terrace") takes a thoroughly nontraditional approach to the horror genre, breaking its rules just as often as he hits its marks. One of the film's most squirm-inducing scenes occurs at the very beginning and involves nothing bloodier than a phenomenally uncomfortable dinner party.

Taking a thoroughly nontraditional approach to the horror genre, "Kill List" is artfully made and sensitively acted. Displaying both a nasty edge and a playful sense of humor, this slippery, teasing thriller trusts audiences to follow marital quarrels as closely as things going bump in the night.

This article is related to: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival






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