Before this month I’d never attended a film festival in any concerted way. But I was inspired by Ken & Robin’s podcast to do so, and got myself a membership card for the Stockholm Film Festival, 5–16 November. The festival’s excellent web site made it easy for me to choose which viewings to attend. And I enjoyed myself! Teaching in Umeå and a boardgaming retreat in Nyköping took chunks out of the festival for me, but I still managed to see nine feature films and a programme of nine short films.
Three of the feature films have my particular recommendation:
- A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. A tale of a skateboard-riding female vampire shot in gorgeous black and white. And in Persian. With lots of classic Americana. Beautifully druggy and funny and strange.
- The Two Faces of January. Young huckster tries to trick old embezzler in Athens. Two people die by happenstance. The noose tightens. Will there be a final paternal benediction?
- A Hard Day. Violent and humorous police action in South Korea. Crooked homicide detective commits hit and run. Has he been seen?
Five others I also found to be well worth watching:
- Five Star. Fatherless Brooklyn ghetto youth gets drawn into the drug trade by a paternal and semi-unwilling gang boss but sees through the game.
- Hill of Freedom. Cut-up story of a man who goes looking for his lost love in South Korea, has a lot of mildly humorous and calculatedly cringy conversations, and hooks up with the cashier at the Hill of Freedom café.
- Dear White People. Unrealistically attractive cast plays unrealistically articulate US college students who never seem to study. Makes the trite points that race issues are hard for everyone to deal with and that in the end money talks.
- Northern Soul. Plotless story of 70s working-class teens who obsess about soul music, gobble amphetamines and dance a lot. I guess you need to have been there to care.
- Camera. Near-future extreme surveillance in Hong Kong. A young man obsessively films everything, exchanges one eye for a camera, and is hired to follow a mysterious girl.
I left after half of Mirage, a slow and largely wordless story from Hungary of a slave farm on the puszta. Beautiful images but I found it boring.
Of the shorts, I particularly liked the thoughtful micro-drama Listen, about an Arabic-speaking battered wife’s attempt to get help from the well-meaning but clueless Danish police.