A Film Festival for Films and Series
Since Friday, this international Festival is taking place in Cologne, Germany. The Film Festival Cologne proposes a wide range of films as well as TV shows. The public can enjoy 11 varied categories such as the “Top ten TV” and “Made in NRW” – a special category for films, which have been made in North Rhine-Westphalia – and two retrospectives of the filmmakers Jane Campion and Michael Glawogger.
There’s also a broad program area for professionals including events about the future of series, storytelling and the film market. Stars like Robert Pattison and Jane Campion attend the festival. In any case, many choices.
Félicité by Alain Gomis
I made a few exceptions to my “better-not-writing-anything-than-writing-something-bad”-policy lately because I’m sick of wasting my time watching bad movies.
So, I’m going to give my opinion on Félicité, who has been for inexplicable reasons traveling from festivals to festivals and seems to be widely appreciated:
I spent two boring hours watching a film composed of the half of never-ending close-ups on the main character, Félicité (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu), singing. It felt sincerely like if Alain Gomis, the director, didn’t know what he was doing.
No sense of rhythm – very ironical for a film which shows so much music scenes –, no sense of narrative, no sense of camera position. At some point, I thought that he decided the film must last two hours, no matter what.
Unfortunately, no recommendation for Félicité.
Detour by Nina Vukovic
Detour is a film directed and written by Nina Vukovic which tells the story of an unstable woman, named Alma (Luise Heyer), who kidnaps her lover’s son, Juri (Ilja Bultmann), to go to Berlin.
She finds a trucker, Bruno (Lars Rudolph), who accepts to drive them for 50 euro. At first, he seems reluctant and distanced, but warms up and becomes more and more pushy and threatening.
Germans are known for their crime series and films, which I’m not fond of, because of their often predictable plots and short-sighted psychology. However, Nina Vukovic managed to craft a rather interesting story after a more classical introduction. The cinematography was engaging and the actors delivered a solid performance.
Top of the Lake: China Girl by Jane Campion and Ariel Kleiman
My friend Alex and I participated in a watch marathon of the all-new season of Top of the Lake: China Girl directed by Jane Campion and Ariel Kleiman, which will premiere in Germany and France on Arte in December of this year.
Jane Campion (The Piano, The Portrait of A Lady, Bright Star) was the first woman ever to win a Golden Palm in Cannes and the second ever nominated for a directing Oscar. Even though she has made history in the industry, she isn’t very well-known by a broader audience.
With Top of the Lake, she chose to test her craft on television, for which film directors need to shift their narrative techniques.
Top of the Lake: China Girl stars Elisabeth Moss, Nicole Kidman, Peter Mullan and many other big names of film and series. It’s the second season of the well-received series.
In this season, Robin (Elisabeth Moss) investigate the murder of a sex worker whose body is found in a suitcase on Bondi Beach, Sydney. The first season was set in New Zealand.
Despite extremely good performances – Nicole Kidman performed incredibly the character of Julia – and a highly esthetical and atmospherical style which makes Jane Campion so special, the story lacked a certain dynamism compared to the first season.
Aurore by Laetitia Masson (SPOILER)
Laetitia Masson Aurore has been much spoken about.
The mini-series thematize a strange and taboo topic: the killing of children by children.
Aurore (Élodie Bouchez) experiences a sad childhood by the side of a mother (Aurore Clément) who isn’t able to take proper care of her. Aurore is a very agitated kid who ends up killing another kid, for a packet of biscuits. After the police have found out what happened, she’s sent to a reformatory (a jail for minors).
That’s where the series really begins.
Laetitia Masson is known for her hard topics and Aurore was no exception.
Apart from a few lengths and inconsistencies, the veracity of the tone (absolutely nailed by Élodie Bouchez and Lolita Chammah), the intensity of the story and the authenticity of director and showrunner Laetitia Masson make it absolutely worth watching.
Broken by Ashley Pearce and Noreen Kershaw
The BBC series Broken is directed by Ashley Pearce and Noreen Kershaw and stars Sean Bean in the leading role.
Father Michael Kerrigan, a Catholic priest presiding over a Northern urban parish, spends his time counseling and comforting people, who are challenged by poverty and miserable lives.
The main plot of the first episode revolves around Christina Fitzsimmons (Anna Friel), mother of three, who just got fired from her job.
The series lacked charisma and a compelling plot, but is watchable, if you’re willing to spend an evening à la Ken Loach.
The Film Festival Cologne is a household name in the industry. One of the reasons is that of the program coming from other big festivals like the Cannes Film Festival. The quality of the films showcased is variable, but all in all this festival is well worth the detour.