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I’ve had a long day, a long weekend really, and I don’t mean that in terms of extra time off but rather in terms of early starts and work. I worked yesterday, which meant leaving the house at 6 a.m., and went to the airport today, which meant leaving at 5:45 a.m, plus cycling plenty on both days (~65km). To work I do in any case, but going to Paddington on a Sunday morning via public transport turned out to be such a hassle that I opted for an hour on the bike instead. As for the airpot bit, that was the saddest part of the day, as I had to say goodbye to a dear friend returning to Japan for good. Missing her already. 😦 Fortunately, I had the visit of another friend plus the Zipangu Fest to distract (read: delight) me.

On to trailers: zero Japan and Korea this week, but don’t run off just yet, expand your horizon! (Or as one of the films on the list this week would say: realise that the world is bigger than the canvas you inhabit). All of this week’s suggestions come from the BFI festival catalogue. Although I’m all booked out for the festival already, I’m hoping to catch these some other time as they all look rather good!

  • Grande comme le baobab (Tall as the Baobab Tree, Senegal/USA, 2012) – Directed by Jeremy Teicher. A story about two sisters in a remote Senegalese village, who are the first of their family to go to school – that is, until their elder brother falls from the baobab tree and gets injured. With medical bills to pay, the family’s only solution is to sell Debo, the youngest girl, into marriage, but Coumba, the older one, refuses to just accept this change of destiny. “[A] marvel to watch” (BFI). BFI page. Plus: An interview with the filmmaker.
  • Aujourd’hui (Tey, France/Senegal, 2012) – No trailer for this only a video report and some clips from the film. Directed by Alain Gomis. Satché returns to  his hometown in Senegal from abroad. It’s his last day on Earth: he is strong and healthy, but his imminent death is announced. His relatives are in tears. His wife refuses to touch him anymore. Satché himself wants to visit the places of his past for one last time. Described as “enigmatic and poetic” and “lauded for the vivid performance of Saul Williams as Satché” (BFI)  something here rather intrigues – and I can’t help but think of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s superb tragicomedy Der Besuch der alten Dame (The Visit) from 1956 where someone too is scheduled to die. BFI page.
  • Die Wand (The Wall, Austria/Germany, 2012) – Trailer in German only. Directed by Julian Roman Pölsler. It’s another one that invokes German-language literature (the BFI describes it as “somewhere between sci-fi and Kafka”), indeed the film is in fact adapted from a 1960s bestselling novel of the same title (will try to find it). The plot: A woman finds herself trapped in the remote Austrian mountains by an invisible force that cannot be explained by science or logic. Her existential plight is explored in this “mesmering, philosophically rich drama about solitude and the things that, against all odds, keep us human” (BFI). The Austrian Cultural Forum London (ACF) better screen this at some point! BFI page. UPDATE: ACF is screening this – October 30th, free entrance but booking required.
  • Todos tenemos un plan (Everybody Has a Plan, Argentina/Spain/Germany, 2011) – Trailer in Spanish only. Directed by Ana Piterbarg. I will admit that the first thing that caught my interest is the fact that Viggo Mortensen stars in this Spanish-language film. I already knew he was multilingual due to his international upbringing and that he often does rather interesting film projects – which is exactly why he’s one of the few American actors whose work I actually pay attention to (that, plus the fact that his performances are always stellar). Piterbarg’s debut feature is a film noir that sees Mortensen play two rather different twin brothers in the Argentine swamplands, each struggling with a crisis of his own. As noted above, the trailer isn’t subtitled but let me tell you that’s one intense clip. I’m sniffing out another Nueve reinas (Nine Queens, Argentina, 2000) except we are not talking about money trickery here, but life and death… BFI page.
  • Syngué Sabour (The Patience Stone, France/Germany/Afghanistan, 2012) – Directed by Atiq Rahimi. Based on Atiq Rahimi’s own novel of the same title, The  Patience Stone sees a young woman watch over her comatose husband of ten years in an Afghanistan still at war. As he is unable to respond in any form, the woman, for the first time ever, tells him everything. Meanwhile, bombs continue to fall and the society and people around her – the men – pose a threat, the woman devising her own way of surviving her predicament and warding off males through strength and intelligence. BFI page.
  • Le Tableau (France, 2012) – Directed by Jean-François Laguionie. This animated film is listed in the “Family” section of the festival and I have to say I just love the whole concept behind the story: The characters live within an unfinished painting, their lives very much defined by a social hierarchy dependent entirely on whether they are merely sketched, half-finished or were actually completed by the painter. Those that suffer in this system, try to escape and soon find their ways into other paintings. Quote the BFI: “This is an inventive story about seeing the bigger picture and realising that there is so much more to the world than the canvas that you inhabit.” Of course, this sort of film is very much suited for teaching the kids, but there is much charm – and creativity of thought – in this tale for really everyone. BFI page.

Bonus Bits

No bonus bits today… I need to get some sleep, sorry! And if there are any typos or nonsense above, I’ll fix it tomorrow.