Without the coziness of the Hyde Park Picture House or the grandeur of the Town Hall, this year I went for the 6 screenings for the price of 5. Choice is difficult with so many films from so many countries. I decided on:
No Bears (2022)
Highly recommended. Once again Jafir Panahi uses his considerable film making skills to challenge the Iranian state. This time the film actors are in Turkey while Panahi directs from Iran close to the Turkish border because of government restrictions on his movement. There are stories within stories.
In 2010 the Iranian government banned Panahi from film making for twenty years for propaganda against the state but with huge international support he found ways to continue. Since No Bears was released he has been rearrested and is currently serving a six year prison sentence. The screening I went to was sold out.
A very well made black comedy about a lawyer who hears a cat meowing in her Istanbul apartment. Or does she? The sound takes over her life, as she struggles to find an explanation. Excellent cast. Recommended. (Presented jointly with Bird’s Eye View and Reclaim The Frame).
Casque d’Or (1952)
A newly restored taut French thriller. Set in 1902, it shows the struggle between an ex-con who is trying to go straight, and a local gangster boss. The reason? Marie (Simone Signoret) who is a force to be reckoned with. Highly recommended.
We Might As Well Be Dead (2022)
This satirical film creates a coherent dystopian world with a tower block as a refuge from dangers in the surrounding countryside. I struggled a bit with following the plot, but interesting enough for me to consider a repeat viewing.
As well as aliens trying to take control of human relationships and breeding, I enjoyed the Japanese film Theatre (2022). Staff at a Tokyo cinema carry out plans to ensure its survival during Covid, with the help of a ghostly spirit. Inspiration for the Hyde Park Picture House!
Return to Seoul (2002)
This is summed up by the subtitle: all the people I’ll never be. Freddie, a 25-year old French adoptee goes to South Korea to find her biological family. Based on a true story. An emotionally intense exploration of clashes of cultural values around family and society in the two countries. Ji-Min Park, the headstrong Freddie, gives a powerful performance in her first film. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to all the LIFF22 staff, volunteers and venues for bringing it all together.