On the Screen (MD 2021/4)
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On the Screen (MD 2021/4)

Cannes (France) 2021

The 2021 Ecumenical Jury awarded its Prize to Drive My Car directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan) for its poetic rumination on the healing power of art and words through a long journey towards forgiveness and acceptance. This is a film that solidly portrays a universal message of overcoming the communication barriers of convention, class, nationality and disability.

The Jury awarded a Commendation to Hytti N°6 (Compartment N°6) directed by Juho Kuosmanen (Finland/Russia/Estonia/Germany) for its sympathetic view on the encounter between two wounded people who would not choose each other even as neighbour. They both overcome solitude by walking the extra mile with the difficult other.

The 2021 Jury comprised: Douglas P. Fahleson, President (Ireland); Anne-Claire De Gaujac (France); Mariángeles Almacellas (Spain); Ingrid Glatz (Switzerland); Peter Ciaccio (Italy); Maxime Pouyanne (France).

Fribourg (Switzerland) 2021

At the 35th Festival International de Fribourg (July 16-25, 2021) the Ecumenical Jury awarded its prize to the film True Mothers (Asa Ga Kuru), directed by Naomi Kawase (Japan, 2020).

Motivation: With great sensitivity, Naomi Kawase tells us the story of family dramas, especially the difficulties associated with adoption. The film, set in a modern Japan that is nevertheless strongly influenced by traditional values, questions the model of the classic family and gives a glimpse of a possible other model of “parenthood”. This work is distinguished by a luminous visual language that creates a harmony between the characters and the landscapes.

Venice (Italy) 2021

The 10th INTERFILM Award for Promoting Interreligious Dialogue at the 78th Mostra internazionale d’arte cinematografica, Venice, went to the film Amira directed by Mohamed Diab (Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, 2021).

Motivation: Amira is about walls between people. It questions how enemies can live together. It is a personal story against the background of the political situation in the Middle East. Amira also poses the question who we really are. Is it a matter of nature or nurture?

The members of the 2021 Jury were: Brigitte Affolter, Switzerland; Piet Halma, The Netherlands, President of the Jury; Peter Paul Huth, Germany; Davide Perego, Italy.

Miskolc (Hungary) 2021

At the 17. CineFest Miskolc September 10-18, 2021, the Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, awarded its Prize to Mila (Apples) directed by Christos Nikou (Greece, Poland, Slovenia, 2020).

Motivation: The film Apples – describing a situation that mirrors the difficult pandemic times in which we live – presents a way to deal with loss and to find meaning in life. With very accurate and minimalistic visuality, the movie leads us to reflect about the healing power of loving your neighbour and living an authentic life beyond the risk of isolation we are facing in our social media society. Furthermore, Apples opens up horizons for discussions and reflections at several levels about human relations, the complexity of every person, and the spiritual meaning of life.

Synopsis: Amidst a worldwide pandemic that causes sudden amnesia, middle-aged Aris finds himself enrolled in a recovery program designed to help unclaimed patients build new identities. By prescribed daily tasks on cassette tapes he can create new memories and document them on camera, Aris slides back into ordinary life, meeting Anna, a woman who is also in recovery. A sci-fi which suddenly becomes reality in many ways.

The members of the 2021 Jury: Piero Loredan (Romania, President of the Jury); Mia Lund Rao (Denmark); András Petrik (Hungary); Tamás Vígh (Hungary).

Zlin (Czech Republic) 2021

At the 61st International Film Festival for Children and Youth Zlín, September 9-15, 2021, the Ecumenical Jury awarded its Prize in the International Competition for Feature Films in the Junior category to Beans directed by Tracey Deer (Canada, 2020).

Twelve-year-old Tekahentahkhwa (“Call me Beans”) belongs to the indigenous Mohawk people of Canada. During the Oka Crisis in 1990, she searches for her way and emancipates herself between the role, which was meant for her in the family, and role models of older youths.

A peaceful protest against a planned golf course on a traditional Mohawk cemetery is answered with racist riots. The film shows impressively how this affects people and how also anti-racism becomes radicalized. On the other hand, strong women become peacemakers in a world of violence.

The film functionally combines fiction style with documentary footage. The aesthetics of the film thus collaborates with the two thematic levels of the story: the personal and the social.

In addition, the Jury awarded a Commendation in the International Competition of Feature Films in the Youth Category to Valentina directed by Cássio Pereira dos Santos (Brazil, 2020).

Valentina is 17 and trans. She moves from the city to the Brazilian countryside with her mother to start over as a young woman. But a sexual assault exposes her and again she faces resentment. In all her despair, she always finds friends who stand by her. An impressive film with a simple narrative that touches us deeply and opens up possibilities for dialogue especially for young people and gives courage.

The members of the 2021 Jury: Dietmar Adler, Germany; Marta Sedláčková, Czech Republic; Andrej Chovanec, Slovakia/Czech Republic.

Warsaw (Poland) 2021

At the 37th International Film Festival Warsaw 8-17 October 2021, the Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, awarded its Prize to Virgjëresha Shqiptare (The Albanian Virgin) directed by Bujar Alimani (Germany, Belgium, Albania, Kosovo, 2021).

Motivation: The film tells of the struggle for happiness in an archaic world. The heroine experiences severe trials and has to sacrifice her happiness to save the ones she loves which clearly shows how the male-made rules of a patriarchal order determine women’s choices. In the end, the film opens up a spiritual path to overcoming centuries-old traditions.

The Jury also awarded a  Commendation to Ringu wandaringu (Ring Wandering) directed by Masakazu Kaneko (Japan, 2021).

Motivation: A film like a window opening into the rich tradition and heritage of the Eastern world that a young man searches for.The film shows the desire of young people to help others, revealing the secret of happiness, a secret that can be felt but neither objectified nor captured. By preserving, sharing and celebrating human values, the film operates on a high artistic level.

The members of the 2021 Jury were: Ewa Przyjasna, Poland; Vladyslav Robskyi, Ukraine; Anita Uzulniece, Latvia.

Chemnitz (Germany) 2021

At the 26th International Film Festival for Children and Young Audiences Schlingel 9-16 October 2021, the Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS awarded its Prize to Mon cirque à moi (My Very Own Circus) directed by Miryam Bouchard (Canada, 2020).

Motivation: Laura has always been on the road, as assistant of her father, a professional clown. But at 13, she wants a more stable life and mostly, to go to school regularly. And maybe also to oppose her father. With bright images, sets and scenes full of poetry, the director subtly unfolds a scenario full of humour, twists and turns, sorrows and small victories. 

Thanks to the friendship of a neighbour and the kindness of a teacher, Laura will finally be able to continue her studies, without losing the fantasy of her previous life.

With delicacy, the film shows the difficulty of being a parent and letting children live a different life: we can love each other without being alike. Our emotional life is a circus and we all are clowns!

The members of the 2021 Jury were: Juliane Ebert, Germany; Viktor Kókai-Nagy, Hungary.

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