Bella Thorne joins line-up, as First Features & Bold Cinema Dominate the 26th Edition of the Oldenburg International Film Festival
The actress, director, and LGBTQ activist will present the World Premiere of her latest directorial work, as two new Awards are added to honor Independent filmmakers.
World Premiere by Bella Thorne
The 21-year-old filmmaker made her screen debut at age six, and has since risen to global stardom. Attending Oldenburg to present the world premiere of her latest directorial work, “Her & Him”– a short film exploring the dynamics of dominance – she states: "My vision originally actually was to make a Christmas horror movie. And instead I made a very beautiful, ethereal, neon type of vision.”
Two New Awards
“2019 is an exciting year dominated by brave feature debuts and bold international cinematic offerings that have inspired the addition of two new awards”, announced the festival director, Torsten Neumann, at Tuesdays’ press conference. The first new addition is an award for “Best First Feature” – determined by a jury and sponsored with a monetary prize by new festival partner premium gin Luv & Lee. Debut narrative features in all sections will qualify.
“In the past years, there has been evolution of genre-defying films that deconstruct the familiar narrative and challenge our ways of seeing”, continued Neumann. Inspired by the daring of these filmmakers, the second new addition will be the “Audacity Award - for Bold & Unique Vision”, decided by a jury and sponsored by Marvins and Berlin-based dubbing and subtitling studio, Alias Film.
First line-up Highlights:
CAT STICKS: India, 2019 by Ronny Sen
On a rainy night in Calcutta, a group of desperate addicts chase brown sugar, but the permanent intoxication they seek proves elusive. First time feature filmmaker, Ronny Sen, weaves their stories into a chiaroscuro, traverses them through states of high and low, spaces real and unreal. A relentless downpour plays backdrop to lives balanced on a precarious high. Some of them seek a release, while others don’t seem to want the night to end. From its World Premiere in Slamdance, this haunting and poetic cinematic gem marks the powerful debut of a new voice in cinema.
CUCK: USA, 2019 by Rob Lambert
In his debut feature, the collective rage of the isolated, disenfranchised loners that inspired Red Cap leadership in America, is poignantly articulated through a surprisingly empathetic protagonist, Ronnie (in a remarkable performance by Zachary Ray Sherman, who gained 40 pounds for the role of a frustrated, unemployed loser). In the wasteland of Van Nuys, living under the roof of his possessive mother (Oscar-nom Sally Kirkland in a wickedly wry turn), Ronnie seeks respite from his anonymous existence on YouTube – as a right-wing extremist blogger. From lost boy to lone shooter – 'Make America Great Again’ could not be more timely.
ESCAPE THROUGH HELL VALLEY (Flucht durchs Höllental): Germany, 2019 by Marcus O. Rosenmüller
Marcus O. Rosenmüller puts fresh blood into of one of the great German film genres - the mountain film. Produced for the German broadcaster ZDF, he delivers a fast-paced thriller about a lawyer whose troubled private life gets entwined with one of his cases, where organized crime is involved. When his daughter gets kidnapped, a life and death chase into the title’s Hell Valley begins. With glimpses of Roger Spottiswoode’s "Shot to Kill”, well-written characters, and elegant cinematography by prolific German DP, Peter Krause (who has lensed films for Roland Emmerich), Rosenmüller's latest offering rises to dramatic heights, as man faces off against nature.
IN FULL BLOOM: USA, 2019 by Adam VillaSeñor and Reza Ghassemi
Set in post war WWII Japan, the first feature from filmmaking duo Adam Villaseñor and Reza Ghassemi, follows the inner journeys of two fighters - a down and out boxer from the US and the reigning Japanese champion (played by Tyler Wood and Yusuke Ogasawara in their onscreen debuts) - as they train for a high stakes international champion fight that will test the very limits of their spirits. The score by the Oscar-nominated sound team (from Dunkirk) is exquisitely present throughout, as nations and moralities face off – and are redefined – through two men who bear the burden of presenting the opposing factions of the New World Order. And fight to the death to defy it.
JESUS SHOWS YOU THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY: Estonia/Ethiopia/Lithuania, 2019 by Miguel Llansó
Billed as a “WTF thriller”, director Miguel Llansó’s follow-up to his 2015 debut “Crumbs” is like “The Matrix” on acid, and is already garnering him almost cult status as a genre and subgenre-defying auteur. The plot: CIA Agents Palmer and Gagano (sporting Robert Redford and Richard Pryor paper face masks) are tasked with the mission of destroying a dangerous computer virus called "Soviet Union". They enter the system using VR but the mission turns into a trap; the virus is far more complex than they ever expected and linked to the darkest spheres of power. A crazy, irreverent cinema cocktail of vintage tropes - and an ultimate guilty pleasure for fans of the absurd.
MAGNETICK PATHWAYS: Portugal, 2018 by Edgar Pêra
Recently honored with a 2019 Retrospective at Rotterdam, Edgar Pêra, the single greatest unknown master of modern Portuguese cinema, offers his latest and perhaps greatest psychedelic masterpiece. Unfolding on the day and night of his 21-year-old daughter’s wedding to a rich man her own age, Raymond (played French cinema icon, Dominque Pinon) will endure 24 hours of humiliation. For the 60-something author of films and comics, “Money isn’t Everything”, as indeed he has none, and is financially dependent upon his wife. A kaleidoscope journey in a city amidst civil war and an authoritarian regime that is about to be established. And as the city collapses - so do his internal convictions.
MOOP: USA, 2019 by Arin Crumley
The surreal, mind-altering setting of a week-long desert art event becomes the catalyst for the simultaneous creation of one romance and destruction of another reminding us there is beauty in both. Shot on-location in a stunning desert landscape, MOOP (an acronym for Matters Out of Place) is an explosion of vibrant imagery and ideas, merging documentary with narrative and the authentic with the absurd to create an entirely unique cinematic experience that asks what is love? What is reality? And where the hell is the porta potty? With unprecedented behind the scenes access, the cultural community known as `Burning Man’ has never been captured so authentically.
MOTHERS’ INSTINCT: Belgium, 2018 by Olivier Masset-Depasse
A psychological thriller adapted from best-selling Belgian author Barbara Abel’s novel “Behind the Hatred”. Set in the 60s, the mirrored bourgeois lives of Alice and Céline – side by side neighbors, best friends, and mothers of boys who are also inseparable - are shattered when Céline’s son Maxime falls to his death from his bedroom window. Witnessed by Alice who was unable to save him, the tragedy uproots the harmony of their twin lives, and seeds of suspicion and jealousy grow as Céline’s blinding pain takes focus on Alice’s son Theo – a constant reminder of the sudden imbalance of her idyllic world as a perfect housewife. Sexy, chilling cinematic food for thought – with a dash or more of arsenic.
SWALLOW: USA, 2019 by Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Rising star, Haley Bennett, soars in “Swallow”, the debut feature of Carlo Mirabella- Davis. Inspired by the life of his grandmother – a homemaker trapped in an unhappy marriage in the 40s, who used OCD rituals such as obsessive hand washing to deal with a life in which she felt increasingly powerless, “Swallow” follows a repressed young wife, Hunter, whose compulsion to secretly and physically consume specific objects grows as she seeks freedom from oppression. Sweeping awards from its World Premiere in Tribeca, it is an audacious and exquisite offering.
TITO: Canada 2019 by Grace Glowicki
Sundance Special Jury Award-winning actor Grace Glowicki plays a terrorized man in her debut feature film “Tito” - a wholly unique vision of predation, friendship and fear. Tito is trapped. Paralyzed by fear of the outside world, a traumatized man seeks refuge in an abandoned house until the arrival of a cheerfully intrusive neighbor… offering breakfast and protection. Told through a wildly inventive and expressive new lens, the directorial debut of the 2019 TIFF Rising Star proves Glowicki to be a talent as bold off screen as on.
WE WOULD BE DIFFERENT (Wir wären andere Menschen) Germany, 2019 by Jan Bonny
Writer-director Jan Bonny rose to international awareness with 2018s “Germany. A Winter’s Tale” - a taut drama about a group of right-wing radical youths, who aim to establish a terrorist cell in Germany. His new film, “We Would Be Different”, once again explores the dark underbelly of society. German actor Matthias Brandt stars in the role of a man who returns to his hometown after 30 years, where he witnessed the killing of his parents by two policemen. Now facing the shadows of his past, he is forced to deal face his inner demons, as the guilty officers were never charged and are still living. Between redemption and revenge, the desire to overcome this traumatic incident transforms as the dangerous tension between victims and predators grows.
Oldenburg International Film Festival