The coronavirus, of course, messed everyone's life up, including mass cultural events. A number of festivals were canceled, some were postponed to the next year, and some went into a completely new online format. The Odesa Film Festival has chosen the path of delicate combination: the entire program will be available from September 25 to October 3 on an online platform specially created for the festival, while the main event in the form of a large-scale open-air will take place, as usual, on the Potemkin Stairs. On October 2, the classic of German expressionism "The Golem, How It Came Into the World" (1920) by Karl Bezet and Paul Wegener would be demonstrated in the accompaniment of the live orchestra.
How will the online film festival take place? Yes, in fact, everything is the same. Tickets are available for the entire festival. Now there will be no need to rush to choose between two simultaneously running films. In 9 days, the festival will show 120 films.
The festival will start with "The Barefoot Emperor" by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth - the continuation of the comedy "King of the Belgians", beloved by the audience, which won the 2017 OIFF Grand Prix. However, the film "Numbers" by Oleg Sentsov and Akhtem Seitablaev will be one of the most anticipated screenings. The film was already demonstrated at the Berlin Film Festival in February, where it was very warmly received by the audience and critics. "Numbers" is based on the play by Sentsov, which he wrote back in 2011, long before the Maidan, the annexation of Crimea and the arrest. Sentsov worked on the film directly from the colony, personally selecting for the director's chair on the site the Crimean Tatar actor and director Akhtem Seitablaev, who also shot “Cyborgs” and “Zakhar Berkut”.
"Numbers" will be released as part of the OIFF Special Screenings, which will also feature Gregory Monro's "Kubrick by Kubrick". This is a unique opportunity to penetrate into the life and work of great American director Stanley Kubrick. The film is already being praised for its detailed detailing and a large number of interviews with the master that have not been published anywhere before.
The International Competition will feature 12 films that are distinguished not only by themes, but also geographically (2 films out of 12 are from Africa). The most sensational film of this competition is the Ukrainian premiere of Valentyn Vasyanovich's dystopia "Atlantis". The film takes place in the uninhabitable Donbas in 2025, a year after Ukraine won the war with Russia. The film won the Best Film Prize in the Horizons program at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.
South Korean cinema is trending right now, so the crime thriller Beasts That Catch Straw, the full-length debut of South Korean director Kim Yong-Hoon, looks like another favorite of the program, especially since he noted at the Rotterdam Film Festival, receiving a special jury award this year...
The Franco-Tunisian comedy "Arab Blues" tells the story of Selma, played by beautiful Golshifteh Farahani, the heroine returns home to Tunisia after several years in Paris. At home, she wants to open her own psychotherapy practice. The world premiere of the film took place at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.
The German film "Voluntary Year" was shot by Ulrich Köhler and Henner Winckler, who is considered a representative of the second wave of the "Berlin School", to which the director himself is rather skeptical. The audience would see strong, deep and most likely rhythmically unhurried drama. "Dinner in America" by Adam Remeyer (USA), which premiered in Sundance this year, is often described as a funny, dynamic film that revives the spirit of punk rock. Hungarian comedy "Comrade Drakulich" by Mark Bojar tells about the life of vampires during the Cold War.
The national program of the festival features 7 full-length and 11 short films. And first of all, I would like to note the long-awaited animation film "Victor_robot" by Anatoliy Lavrenyshyn, one of the leading Ukrainian animators, participant and winner of a number of film and animation festivals. The film tells the story of the friendship and adventures of a girl and a robot in the distant future. On the soundtrack, we will hear compositions performed by Dakh Daughters, Anton Slepakov, Maryana Golovko, and Marko Galanevich ("DakhaBrakha"). Official rentals are scheduled for spring 2021.
Another long-awaited work is "Ursus. Caucasian Brown Bear" (Ukraine, Georgia, Germany, Bulgaria) directed by Otar Shamatava. The film tells about the misadventures of three cute losers - a Georgian film director, a Ukrainian stuntman and a Canadian animal rights activist. It won the first State Cinema Committee pitching back in 2011. A year later, the picture was presented at the Berlinale film market, and filming began in 2013. Around the same time, the film was called one of the most ambitious projects in the history of Ukrainian cinema, and it was even assumed that the great Cate Blanchett would play one of the main roles. However, instead of the planned several weeks, filming was delayed for 5 years. So movie lovers have been waiting for this project for a long time.
A comedy drama about loneliness and the search for a family in Ukraine "The Family" by Australian Jaden Stevens was filmed in a joint production of Ukraine and Australia in the Ukrainian language, a foreign language for the director. The film is about a hero who hires actors to help him meet the New Year, imitating a family. Of course, at some point everything goes wrong. According to Stevens, the idea for the plot came to him after he learned about drama therapy – a method of art therapy with elements of staging. This film is also interesting because the Ukrainian viewer will be able to see the perception of their native country and our mentality from the point of view of an Australian. And to look at yourself from the outside is always useful!
The Ukrainian-Romanian documentary "Everything Will Not be Fine!" (Adrian Pirvu, Helena Maksyom) is a drama about the Chornobyl generation. Adrian Pirvu is the son of a Romanian woman who traveled around Ukraine in her sixth month of pregnancy in 1986, just during the Chernobyl disaster, which she only learned about upon her arrival home. Adrian was born completely blind, and only as a result of the great efforts of his mother and doctors, he partially returned his sight. The film received the FIPRESCI Award from the International Federation of Film Critics at the International Film Festival in Romania.
As you can see, both the International and National OIFF-2020 programs promise to be very interesting. But do not forget that any film festival is not only competition programs! This year directors Roy Andersson (Sweden) and Roman Balayan (Ukraine) will receive the Golden Duke prize for the development of cinematography. Andersson will meet with the audience at the OIFF.
The program will be further supplemented, but the sensational Italian film "Martin Eden" by Pietro Marcello has already been announced, with the brilliant work of Luca Marinelli, who won the prize for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. We will also be able to see the film "Yalda" by Iranian director Massoud Bakshi, which won the main jury prize at Sundance 2020. The documentary "Welcome to Chechnya" by the American director David France tells about the persecution of homosexual couples in the Chechen Republic. The painting won the Audience Award at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival.
Odesa Film Festival 2020 will be held on the online platform from September 25 to October 3, and you do not need to go to Odesa to visit it. Just go to the site, register, buy a subscription, and enjoy the autumn film marathon.