Annihilation: The Beautifully Unsatisfied Catharsis

A reflexion by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 19.07.2018

Genre: Science Fiction, Horror | Country: United Kingdoms, United States | 2018

Directed and Written by Alex Garland

Starring:  Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny

It’s a while I’ve watched Annihilation on Netflix, but I was affected by that new kind of science fiction storytelling so much, that I knew I had to write something about it at some point.

So, for those among you who haven’t seen this very remarkable piece of work, here is a little something about the story. I couldn’t avoid spoilers, just so you know.

Story

„Area X“ is a government facility on the southern coast of the US. After a strange phenomenon called „The Shimmer“ has occurred, several exploring groups disappear or come back sick, after having entered it.

Like Lena’s husband, who was the only one to come back and got sick after his return. A psychologist named Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) explains Lena (Nathalie Portman), who also happen to be a cellular biologist, and former soldier, that the center of this anomalous shimmering electromagnetic field is a lighthouse.

Wanting to help her husband and pushed by curiosity, Lena volunteers to enter „The Shimmer“ with Dr. Ventress, two scientists, Josie (Tessa Thompson) and Cassie (Tuva Novotny), and a paramedic, Anya (Gina Rodriguez).

The mission is to take samples and notes to analyze the environment and maybe understand what happened.

Beyond the frontiers of the area, the laws of physic (time) and genetic, seem to be confused. During their exploration, the women meat mutated creatures and seem to fall deeper and deeper into a psychological distress.

Visuals

Despite the fact that I’m not motivated by doing a classic film review this time, I have to acknowledge the impressive and magical visuals that have been used for this psychological horror-science-fiction adventure.

Annihilation is a deep-dive into the world of dreams and the human psyche. It provides, just by its visual aesthetic, an unforgettable cinema momentum.

The Characters & Their Surrounding

There is almost no need to underline how the performance of an actor is central to the effect of a film and there wasn’t any disappointment there. Who appreciate Tessa Thompson (Westworld), Nathalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, will surely dive easily into Annihilation. Tuva Novotny and Gina Rodriguez were excellent as well, but I had less to no references related to those actresses before and have therefore no point of comparison.

Very intriguing to me – and I’m probably not the only one – was the subconscious aspect of ourselves invoked in those feminine figures.

Lena (Nathalie Portman) impersonates suffering and a form of resilience through alienation. What do I mean by that? Alienation is „the withdrawing or separation of a person or a person’s affections from an object or position of former attachment.“ In the case of Lena, the one who’s alienated is oneself.

Obviously, the character of Lena goes through several states during the story as well. First, she’s afraid of what she ’s going to find out. But her fascination for the biology surrounding her, which defies the laws of nature, seems to maintain her sanity. In fact, on their way to the lighthouse, the women encounter an alligator who seems to have been hybridized with a shark, a bear who imitates the voice of Cassie crying for help – one of the creepiest scenes I’ve watched in horror by the way – and humans who turn into plants.

Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) impersonates the illusion of self-awareness – she’s a psychologist. She leaves the group before they reach the lighthouse and as Lena enter the lighthouse by her own, she witnesses the mental and then physical degradation – even disintegration – of the psychologist, as the latter’s body comes apart and form an energy mass, that absorbs the remaining blood from Lena’s face.

Cassie (Tuva Novotny) isn’t assimilated by this strange nature. She’s attacked by it. She ends up killed by a bear – yes, the one. She comes back as an echo when the bear is entering the basement, where the four remaining women are hiding. She impersonates the fragility and vulnerability in us.

Anya (Gina Rodriguez), who discovers that Lena has a secret. As they enter a basement, they watch a man on tape cutting open one of his fellows who has an alien life living inside him. It’s her husband, Kane, who has been in „The Shimmer“ before and returns mysteriously while all of his comrades are dead. In reaction to this discovery, Anya has paranoia and threats her the four remaining women, in particularly Lena. While she’s restraining them, the bear, who killed Cassie, comes back and kill her as well. She impersonates the unpredictable, impulsive and out-of-control side of us.

Jossie (Tessa Thompson) makes a transformation of her own, as she grows flowers inside her. It almost seems like a choice, as she disappears among the human-shaped plants. Jossie represents acceptance or resignation – depending on from which perspective you’re looking at it.

As Lena’s blood has been absorbed by what remained of Dr. Ventress, the form in front of her shapes itself into an alter ego of the biologist. It looks exactly like her and mirrors her entire movement as well as it keeps her from escaping the lighthouse. A dance, face to face, begins, in which Lena seems to almost lose herself. Finally, she accepts the mirroring of this strange creature and exploits its movement to put a phosphorus grenade into its hands, and activates it before she flees.

She goes back as the only survivor of the group. Through this inner and maybe physical transformation – one can’t help but doubt if it’s really her or not – Lena impersonates resilience, the only character trait that seems to enable surviving in Annihilation.

Conclusion

Alex Garland has shown before, that he can dives very deep into the human psyche – Ex Machina is one of the most brilliant films on Artificial Intelligence-, and with Annihilation, he’s gone one step further. He wrote the screenplay but the story is based on the bestseller by Jeff Vander Meer. Usually, the cathartic aspect of a film shows something that we want to see in us. The definition of cathartic is this: „Providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions“ Mostly this is related to emotions like fear, expressed aggressions, deep sadness, and finally courage in finding a way to one’s own truth and it has usually a happy end or at least a satisfying plot twist.

But not Annihilation. It shows us the parts of us we don’t want to see, even if we aren’t ready for it. Although its cathartic aspect is undeniable, the transformation and return of Lena isn’t a pure relief, because she lost something in „The Shimmer“, that she’s never going to get back, maybe her own life.

 

Patrick Melrose

Review by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 04.07.2018

Genre: Drama, Black Comedy, Mini-Series | Country: United Kingdoms, United States | 2018 | Five episodes

Directed by Edward Berger | Written by David Berger

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving, Harriet Walter

Patrick Melrose is a series produced by Showtime and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the main character. It’s based on five novels by English Author, Edward St Aubyn, which were republished in 2012 under the name The Patrick Melrose novels.

Story

Set in the 1980s, the story begins with the upper-class citizen Patrick Melrose having to fly from London to New York City to attend his father’s funeral and collect his ashes afterward.

The conflict is set right away as the main character answers the phone to hear about his father’s death. It’s the middle of the day and Patrick Melrose is already intoxicated and barely capable of articulating himself. Also, he doesn’t seem to care about it. On the contrary.

His only worry is to know how to survive his stay in New York City without being able to take drugs. Soon it gets very clear why the death of his father seems to leave him cold.

Cinematography & Editing

Patrick Melrose is one of those series who shapes the awareness of the audience, not only because of its tremendous storytelling and acting but also because of a sensitive and highly esthetical cinematography. Cinematographer James Friend (Rillington Place, Victoria, The Musketeers) who created a very textural, precious and remastered 1980s-like quality of the picture, did a tremendous job underlining the drama of this poignant story.

Every scene was esthetically mastered and served the development of this semi-autobiographical narration, but one scene, in particular, has remained etched in my memory. This scene isn’t per se the most spectacular as there are many others that are barely watchable due to their tension but it serves as a powerful metaphor for the loneliness and despair of the main character.  The intolerable feelings, the audience is confronted with, culminate in a pool scene, taken from the above. As everything should have gotten better in the timeline of the character, we witness him standing alone at the edge of the pool watching a robotic cleaner follows its random trajectory under water.

Performance

I can’t emphasize enough on how I’m touched by the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, he’s a world renown actor and this is not a revelation telling this, but he seems to get even better with each new acting job. Benedict Cumberbatch is a master of disguise and a genius in keeping the audience at a distance, making it laugh, and touching the deepest part of its soul from one moment to another.

Jennifer Jason Leigh gave an amazing portrait of a mother who gave up on herself and her own flesh and blood, seeking escape in the bottom of a glass of alcohol or a hippie community. It sounds so cliché and it is, but it’s foremost heartbreaking.

Who hasn’t been scared of Hugo Weaving? The actor probably has a burden to carry since he’s been the most unsympathetic and horrific virus ever played in the history of cyberpunk, but if you thought he’s done his best in that matter, you’re wrong. It’s inconvenient to watch an antagonist of a special genre whose uncontrollable mood swing, missing morality and controlling behavior you are at the mercy of.

Conclusion (SPOILER)

Film and series depicting child abuse and the excessive usage of drugs due to posttraumatic stress disorder in adulthood are whether simple to make, nor simple to watch.

The series Big Little Lies showed it’s possible as the creators and writers tiptoed around the heavy topic of domestic abuse very elegantly until the end, without ever caricaturing the tormentor or its victim. The horror of the truth and the everyday terror one of the main characters has to endure, slides slowly in front of the incredulous, or on the contrary familiar, eye of the audience.

The series Patrick Melrose took ownership of the power and heartbreak inherent to that kind of biography as well. It let the audience swallow the truth it has already known. We can’t help ourselves but grieve on his inability of finding a way to comfort his inner dispaired child, who’s been damaged for the rest of his life.

Patrick Melrose is definitely one my series highlights of 2018. I stumbled upon it without expecting a miracle and I still am choking up on it.

die Seriale 2018

Picture by Rossi Photography

A festival review by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 18.06.2018

For the second time in a row, I was invited to the web series festival, die Seriale, an independent festival based in Gießen, a small town in Germany. The festival was founded by filmmaker, Csongor Dobrotka, and supported and organized by an amazing team.

The original concept of the festival was to give German web series a platform outside of the internet, to promulgate their work and get to network with each other.

I’ve encountered the work of new creative people and was delighted to meet other creatives I’ve known for a while. It has been a pleasure being there for the second time. The festival is familiar as well as highly professional. Producers, creators, and sponsors from all over the world attend the event. What I mean by that is that you have the opportunity of learning a lot on what’s going on in the web. The festival is connected to several other web series festival, such as the Bilbao Web Fest, the Vancouver Web Fest, the Seoul Webfest, the DC WebFest, the Roma Web Fest, the Miami Web Fest, the Webfest Berlin, the Wendie Webfest Hamburg, the Seriencamp München, the Minnesota Webfest, the Sicily Web Fest, Miami Web Fest and many others. In addition, die Seriale became part of the Web Series World Cup (WSWC) in 2017.

Part of the program isn’t only web series screenings, but amazing events as well. There is an educational day, with lectures and panels, an independent day, where creators, festival directors, and producers talk about all aspects of short-form digital series making, and a business day, which offers a business platform for the web series industry.

This year I had the privilege of being part of their amazing festival, as I gave a workshop on creativity and procrastination myself. It was a lot of fun and I intend to do more of it in the future. The creators Thomas Meudt, Christian Stadach, Stephan Zimmermann and Matthias Noe did a workshop about sound and visual effect, and the producer Anne Santa Maria, about the art of pitching web series.

Of course, the festival was closed with a beautiful ceremony accompanied by the music of the talented quartet, La Finesse.

How to spread the work of independent web series creators was still a topic this year, that’s why the most experienced in this young industry gave new creators some tips and tricks to get better and maybe have the chance to be distributed.

I saw again some surprising and excellent work this year and would like to share a few below. I’ll present you the series I had the opportunity to watch and my favorites among them.

Claire and Michel

Country: Canada | Genre: Mockumentary | Creator: Gabriel Doré

„Claire and Michel“ is about a couple that wants to have a baby. They decide to document their life for their future child.

I’ve talked about „Claire and Michel“ before, but Gabriel presented a new episode at die Seriale this year. The series‘ third season has already been launched.

The episode we watched emphasized Michel’s difficulties in living the life of a mature adult and his tormented relationship with his father, who has no understanding of his son’s lifestyle or lack of responsibility.

Gabriel’s brilliant work made the audience feel embarrassed and affected by the situation of the main character, as well as outraged and amused by his father. The result is tragicomic.

The smart dialogues and great performances of the actors make „Claire and Michel“ really worth watching. Gabriel Doré is a gifted writer-director and you should check his amazing work:

https://www.claireetmicheltv.com/

2 Aliens

Country: Germany | Genre: Animation/Sci-Fi/Comedy | Creator: Thomas Zeug

One of this year surprises, was „2 Aliens“, a hilarious animation series about, you guessed, two Aliens. Quiqueck and Hämat’s mission is to orbit around the earth to observe humanity.

The episode that was presented at die Seriale was about the rebellion of robots and all kind of household appliances against the two clumsy aliens.

There are indubitable references to classics of science fiction, such as „2001: A Space Odyssey“ and „Alien“.

The whole theatre was laughing and I felt remembered of the priceless humor of TubeHeads.

Both web series creators are German, which objects to the persistent stereotype of humorless Germans.

You can check Thomas Zeug’s work on his YouTube channel.

Bruce

Country: Australia | Genre: Black Comedy/History | Creators: Warwick Holt, Mat Blackwell, Tony Rogers

Australia has shown that it’s very strong and far ahead when it comes to the professional production of web series.

„Bruce“ is no exception to that rule as well as it reflects the Australian art of not taking oneself too seriously.

In the 18th century, Bruce wants to follow the woman he loves, Daisy, to the new land of Australia on the First Fleet by getting arrested. Instead of coming near to his soulmate, he’s trapped in a violent prison camp at the edge of the world.

„Bruce“ shows no mercy to our enlightenment. It’s a sort of an Australian version of the Monty Python and has ruled the world of web series festival for a while now.

http://brucetheseries.com/

Ebersberg 

Country: Germany | Genre: Horror/Supernatural | Creator: Manuel Weiss

After the inexplicable death of a woman, inspector Moser has the task of taking care of a teenage girl, found on the crime scene in a mysterious state. The girl is only able to talk about a woman from the forest. Thinking she’s imprisoned in her fantasy after such a shock, the skeptical investigator decides to examine the camera which testifies the recent death of her father.

One remarkable aspect of this series is the performances of the actors. It’s not easy to play well in a traditional drama, but I think horror is even more difficult since it can become ridiculous very easily.

The execution is all the more important and regarding this aspect, the team of „Ebersberg“ did a good job.

Watch Ebersberg on Amazon Prime

God is Coming

Country: Germany | Genre: Animation | Creator: Stefan Vogt

You don’t need to understand German to appreciate this special composition as it is completely without any dialogues. „God is Coming“ tells the story of a pastor who tries to attract the villagers to mass. The poesy of the series is genuinely expressed through minimalistic and powerful draw lines and a vivid sound.

www.gott-kommt.de

High Life

Country: Australia | Genre: Drama, Comedy | Creators: Luke Eve, Glen Dolman

Another great Australian web series which lacks no humor!

The web series portrays a teenage girl going from a middle-class family who is brutally going through a personal crisis in the middle during classes at school.  She’s imaging her teacher having an affair with one of her classmates, shows then a complete stranger her bosom at her home and has a nervous breakdown at her father’s company.  Her burst of paranoia and over excitement seem to have a logical explanation: It appears that she’s experiencing her first manic episode of bipolar disorder.

„High Life“ has an excellent cast, is beautifully made, gripping and hilariously written. A must watch!

http://www.highlifeseries.com/

I’m Ander

Country: Argentina | Genre: Comedy | Creator: Gisela Benenzon

Kiki Vega, a successful and narcissistic prime time actress, enters a state of crisis after her contract isn’t renewed for the next season. She seeks new challenges and begins to study theater, get out of her comfort zone and explore new horizons. She finally decides to obtain the main role in the new film by famous director Wes Anderson, who’s going to shoot in Argentina.

„I’m Ander“ is another hilarious series about personal crisis and self-doubts. It mocks the world of traditional television and shows proudly its Argentinian roots.

MH

Country: France | Genre: Comedy/Social Satire | Creator: Amandine Hervé-Pouchet

Marie-Hélène (MH), is 34-year-old and single. She longs for love and adventure.

The episode we had the honor of watching at die Seriale describes MH going to a dating event. MH is shy and doesn’t seem to be accepted by the exclusive club of desperate women, who organized the event. One after the other, some men dare to adventure themselves in this feminine world, bragging about their masculinity.

Amandine Hervé-Pouchet has produced almost, if not everything by herself, and the result is stunning. There aren’t any dialogues and she chose stop-motion to illustrate her story. All I can say is: I have rarely seen such a hilarious series and I’ve laughed hysterically during the entire episode. And I wasn’t the only one. So watch what’s Amandine is going to do next, because she’s astonishing.

Check MH on Amandine’s YouTube Channel

Her work should be presented on Seeka TV

Mona Lisa Cowboy

Country: USA | Genre: Dramatic Comedy | Creator: Atsushi Ogata

The Japanese-American Creator Atsushi Ogata invented the figure of „Yukata Cowboy“ to make fun of his situation as an expatriate who hasn’t one home country, but several. „Mona Lisa Cowboy“ tells the story behind it, as Yukata Cowboy spend a while in Paris. It stars the Chinese-French actress Xin Wang from the hit series EX-MODEL.

Every person who’s known at least once how it feels to be „torn“ between two or more cultures, can relate to creator Atsushi Ogata. Smart YouTube clips once you’ve overcome the essential Freudian YouTube phases.

Atsushi Ogata’s YouTube Channel

The Man For Your Sins

Country: Germany| Genre: Comedy | Creator: Joachim Jung

Wolfgang, a priest, who’s lost his parish, listens to the confessions of sinners in a container in the heart of Berlin. He seems to be able to help everybody, except himself.

One more German web series gem I’ve discovered at die Seriale. In this series, you notice how a good cinematography and acting serve a story. Because“The Man For Your Sins“ isn’t only well composed, but caustic and amusing as well.

Der Mann für die Sünde, YouTube Channel

This is Desmondo Ray!

Country: Australia | Genre: Comedy/Drama | Creator: Steve Baker

Australia again! „Desmondo Ray“ tells the story of a very, very peculiar man, looking for love in a dark and troubling world.

Creator Steve Baker has made a bold choice since he’s mixed film material with animation. And the result isn’t only elegant, but hilarious and poetic as well.

„Desmondo Ray“ in the on the top of the World Series World Cup at the moment and was by far one the audience’s favorites.

https://www.thisisdesmondoray.com/

Night Patrol

Country: France | Genre: Thriller/Crime | Creators: Hob and Marthi

In „Night Patrol“ the Challenger and the Captain have to team up, despite their mutual animosity, to catch the Boss, an evil criminal ruling the world of Blast City.

The French creators, Hob and Marthi, have created a universe close to the comic style. Their series, „Challenger“, reminds of the storytelling style of „Sin City“.

Hob and Marthi have a further project in mind. To be continued…

Check their YouTube Channel, La Bande à Pixel they share with a few other friends.

Kynnstlah – a series of artist portraits

Country: Germany/USA | Genre: Documentary | Creator: Sandra Bertalanffy

„Kynnstlah“ is a documentary series about artists, both visual and performing.

Each artist is portrayed in her/his work environment and interviewed about her/his work. The series aims to capture the act of creation and inspires the audience with the beauty of art.

It’s beautifully made by Sandra Bertalanffy, who created, directed and produced the series, as well as Joel Fendelman, who co-directed, co-produced, edited and took care of the cinematography.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandra at die Seriale. The entire interview is available below:

Interview with Sandra Bertalanffy

You can also watch their beautiful trailer at https://vimeo.com/kynnstlah

I’ve heard good things about other web series that were presented as well.  You can find all series which were screened HERE.

And all the award winners HERE.

It was a pleasure being there and I hope you’ll feel inspired to visit this awesome web series festival next year.

Interview with actress, creator and producer, Sandra Bertalanffy, at die Seriale 2018

Picture by Rossi Photography

Sandra Bertalanffy is a moderator and host for the independent web series festival, die Seriale, in Gießen, Germany. She’s also an actress and a producer, and recently, a creator as well.

Sandra showed her web series „Kynnstlah“ at the festival. It’s a documentary series about artists, both visual and performing.

Watch the amazing career change and choices Sandra made and how she loves what she’s doing now.

You can watch a trailer of her beautifully made series at https://vimeo.com/kynnstlah

Sandra Bertalanffy is the creator, producer, co-director and Joel Fendelman, the director, cinematographer, editor, and co-producer.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kynnstlah/

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Interview with Dominik Lando and Matthias Noe, creators of „Spessart Tales“ at de Seriale 2018

Picture by Stefan Pohl

From left to right: Matthias Noe, Dominik Lando

I interviewed Dominik Lando and Matthias Noe, the creators of the mystery web series „Spessart Tales„, at die Seriale 2018.

They tell about their project, how they met and their favorite web series at the festival.

After an enthusiastic reception by their audience, they’re financing their third episode via crowdfunding right now.

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Interview with screenwriter and digital series expert, Joël Bassaget, at die Seriale 2018

Picture: Joel Bassaget by Rossi Photography

Web series aficionado, screenwriter, and chief advisor of the Webfest Berlin, Joel Bassaget has a long experience with this kind of format.

See for yourself what he has to say about his beloved web series.

This video was made at die Seriale 2018, an absolute must if you’re in the business of web series and if you like to watch a new kind of content…

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Vivre Riche (Being Rich)

A review by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 09.04.2018
2017/ 53 min / Documentary
Directed by Joël Akafou
Story
In the Ivorian economic center of Abidjan, a group of young men struggles to make a living after the political and economic crises of recent years. „Rolex the Portugues“ and his companions, scam write European women via Internet to get their money.
During 53 min, the audience follows the young men through the hectic nights of the big Ivorian city, where drinking and having fun is the highlights of the youth besides a rather difficult life. They want beautiful clothes, fun and they believe in a god which justifies their dishonest way of earning money. For them, their scam victims are just paying off the dept of the colonization.
Cinematography & Editing
Director Joël Akafou demonstrates a simple but efficient cinematography and editing, which is serving the story. Between the probable scandalisation the audience feels regarding what the young men are doing and the crazy nights they spend drinking in the city, he chose a purist and intimate way to show their efforts to get out of poverty.

Conclusion
Everybody has heard, at least once, of those scammers who seduce women in the Western world to rip them off, but rather more rarely from the point of view of the scammers.
The documentary is a crushing report on social inequality, however without sparing the side of the scammers. As a matter of fact, the director chose to show young men in crisis, also by underlining their responsibility and poor choices, in order to not only survive, but getting rich as well.
Vivre Riche is an interesting documentary, which turns one’s attention to a more nuanced storytelling on poverty and social struggle. Absolutely worth watching.

Allons Enfants

A review by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 07.04.2018
2018/ 60 min / Drama
Directed by Stéphane Demoustier
Starring Cléo Demoustier, Paul Demoustier, Vimala Pons
Brive-la-Gaillarde is a small town in the south of France. It’s known for its delicious food and its history. For 15 years it has also been known for its film festival, specialized on medium-length films. The event began on Tuesday and will end tomorrow with its award ceremony.
I came yesterday and I’ve already a favorite film by Stéphane Demoustier (Terre battue, Bad Gones), who chose his own children as actors, Cléo and Paul. Allons Enfants has been already presented at the 68th session of the Berlin International Film Festival in the category Generation.
Story
It’s summer in Paris. To be more precise, La Villette. A modern part of Paris, which is also known for being very cosmopolite. Cléo and Paul are accompanied by their nanny (Elsa Wolliaston) and start to play hide-and-seek. While they’re playing Cléo get lost and wander through the streets of Paris until she meets Louise (wonderful Vimala Pons). First annoyed by this unplanned turn of events, Louise starts to get attached to the toddler.
Meanwhile, Paul is looking for his twin sister with his nanny. The strange figure seems to be lost as well. After having giving up on looking for Cléo, she mysteriously abandons Paul while he’s taking a tour on the merry-go-round.
Now, Paul and Cléo are wandering through the gardens and streets of Paris separately.
Cinematography & Editing
Stéphane Demoustier chose to film his children from their point of view, which resulted in a beautifully silent and deeply touching ode to childhood. I felt reminded of the concept of The Florida Project by Sean Baker, which depicts the story of children living in a motel next to Disneyland, from their point of view.
The cinematographer, Sylvain Verdet (Neither Heaven nor Earth, Junior is Dead, Mur) translated brilliantly the story of Stéphane Demoustier, who also wrote the screenplay. Every camera angle was serving the story. The proximity to the children and the almost worm’s eyes view when they’re lost among adults felt oppressive.
Cast
The fact that the director chose his own twins to make this wonderful movie probably helped in giving a very natural touch to the performance of the tiny actors. The children were 3-year-old as the film was made. It felt like there was no camera. When Cléo is walking through the garden of La Villette noticing progressively that she’s lost, alone and therefore starts to panic as well as when Paul forgets time and plays after having accepted the fact, that he’s lost his nanny.
The interpretation of Vimala Pons translated perfectly the different facets of the figure of Louise. Maternal and responsible, but indecisive, disturbing and dangerous as well.

Conclusion
It felt good to watch an accomplished movie after such a long time. Particularly in this format, which I wouldn’t have expected.
Within 60 minutes Stéphane Demoustier managed to captivate the attention of the audience. You never know for sure what’s going to happen. The director transports the audience from a feeling of terror, watching the helpless children being exposed to potential dangers by themselves, to a slow but absolutely beautiful ballade of childhood and acceptance.
Allons Enfant is a roller coaster of emotions and an instruction manual for Carpe Diem. Definitely, a must watch.
 

Based on a True Story

A Review by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 21.03.2018
2017/ 100 min / Thriller
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring Emmanuelle Seigner, Eva Green, Vincent Perez
Based on a True Story, inspired by a Delphine de Vigan’s novel, Oscar-winner Roman Polanski goes back to his roots in thriller and mystery after four years of introspection. The film was officially selected at the Cannes Film Festival last year in the official selection (hors-catégorie). Now it will be released on the 17th of May in Germany.
Story
One by one, fans at a book fair testify their admiration and endorsement to the first-time bestseller author, Delphine. She finds herself exhausted by the process and the way she impacts the lives of her readers begins to overwhelm her. With this huge responsibility and the pressure she feels on being able to write a successful novel again, she feels the urge to leave the fair immediately. However, a beautiful and mysterious fan, who tries to push her luck, captures her attention. She’s calm, cheeky and charismatic, which seems to be exactly what Delphine needs at that moment, although she refuses, fearing more fans reforming a queue.
The mysterious woman and Delphine meet inexplicably at a party later in the evening. Elle, as she calls herself, bewitches the author with her quiet verve, her comprehension, and her listening skills.
She contacts Delphine later to grab a coffee. The new-born bestselling author falls instantly under the charm of the elegant and perfectly tailored ghostwriter. Both women seem to share a common bond, which led Delphine to invite Elle in her life.
Cinematography & Editing
Roman Polanski is one of those directors who seem to let the audience forget about the way he looks at people and things. He knows how to show the gentle and smooth Parisian bourgeoisie which allows itself behavioral and material fantasy in the collective imagination. He knows how to force the attention on faces and punctuate voices so much it feels unnatural but fascinating.
The slow and proper diction of his character reminds of the dialogue style of so many French writer-directors. Roman Polanski didn’t write the script alone by the way but was helped by the talented French director Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper, L’eau Froide). Roman Polanski filming Emmanuelle Seigner always reminds me of a Claude Chabrol filming Isabelle Huppert.
His gifted cinematographer, Pawel Edelman, responsible for Ray, Ghostwriter and The Pianist, emphasizes the understating, beautiful and oppressive style of the Polish director.
Cast
I’ve always liked watching Emmanuelle Seigner despite or thanks her almost dismissive and provoking gaze for the simple reason that she consistently feels the space with her huge presence.
But I must say, that I’m an even huger fan of Eva Green’s work. I rarely comment on the beauty of an actress, as it has absolutely nothing to do with her performance or the quality of a film, but I think her magnificence do enhance her magnetic being. She’s always the right thing at the right moment, always with a touch of darkness accompanied by her hoarse voice. I can’t get enough of her presence on the big or the small screen, where she was by the way extraordinary as usual in Penny Dreadful. It’s an event in itself to watch her perform, no matter the context.

Conclusion
The film received rather bad critics at the Cannes Film Festival last year claiming that it’s far away from the strong style of the director, that it serves commonplaces and has a wannabe impressive camera work. I strongly disagree as I think it’s a total exaggeration.
Maybe it’s the fact that I liked the story so much – actually nothing new under the sun, except I thought for a moment that I was witnessing a remake of Misery by Rob Reiner based on the novel by Stephen King – that I liked the atmosphere and absolutely venerate Eva Green, has affected my judgment, but I think the last Polanski’s film was a decent piece of work.
Of course, there were some unsteady logic (Did Delphine blackmailed herself?), ridiculous lines (When Delphine’s boyfriend enumerate the countless famous authors he’s been in contact with) or strange scenes (The “only told” omnipresence of the mother, which is only showed twice on screen in two weird and rambling scenes – although I salute the creative effort put in the design of Delphine’s nightmare), within the film and it’s certainly not a masterpiece, but I had a good time watching it, and so can you.

Hong Kong International Film Festival

A summary by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 19.03.2018
Today, the International Film Festival of Hong Kong begins. It’ll run until the 5th of April this year.
The HKIFF is one of the largest cultural events in Asia – costs of 18,162,080 HKD (1,884,750 €) in 2017 –  and an important platform for presenting new talents. The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society is the society behind the festival; it allows film professional to exchange and discover new films at the Hong Kong International Film and TV Market as well and support Asian filmmaking through the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF). The festival showcases over 280 films from 50 countries and has an audience of over 600 000.
The festival focuses on current Chinese film productions which attract a large amount of local audience and offers the residents the opportunity to watch international films which haven’t a local distributor yet. This is one of the interesting aspects of this huge film festival.
The Hong Kong International Film Festival has a long tradition as it has been created in 1977. It’s the oldest Asian film festival. First focusing on world cinema, the festival organization then decides to showcase a Hong Kong retrospective and contemporary cinema and regional Asian cinema as well. In 2004, the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Limited became officially an independent organization that would manage the development of the HKIFF after completing its 28th edition.

How to attend
Since the festival has noticed a declining frequentation of theatres within the generation 16-35, the festival prioritizes on keeping its pricing reasonable and offering low-priced student tickets.
An average ticket costs 98 HKD (10 €) for one or a few more films. A VIP pass costs 5000 HKD (519 €)
http://www.hkiff.org.hk/film/ticketInfo
Tickets are available at the following locations:
http://www.hkiff.org.hk/venue/urbtix
Or online:
http://www.hkticketing.com/ (User-friendly)
https://ticket.urbtix.hk/internet/en_US/eventDetail/34753
Screening locations
http://www.hkiff.org.hk/venue/screening
Homepage
http://www.hkiff.org.hk/default