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International Films at GFF

As we welcome the 5th Edition, GFF continues to serve as an important platform for works by global filmmakers. This year’s edition meets, and dare we say, exceeds all expectations, with an array of films across different genres falling under several categories. With a Narrative Competition, a Feature Documentary Competition, a Short Film Competition and an Official Selection out of Competition, there is a rich offering of works from diverse countries. International Films at GFF

Some of these received acclaim at recent international film festivals and will provide attendees with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse themselves in cinema at its most thought-provoking and visually exciting best.

Narrative Competition

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic

Teemu Nikki | Finland | 2021 | Finnish | 82 min

Jaakko is blind and disabled, tied to his wheelchair. He loves Sirpa. Living far apart, they never met in person, but they meet every day over the phone. When Sirpa is overwhelmed by shocking news, Jaakko decides to go to her immediately despite never having left home because of his condition. He just needs to rely on the help of five strangers in five places to reach her.

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

Aleksey Chupov, Natasha Merkulova | Russia, Estonia, France | 2021 | Russian | 126 min

Captain Fedor Volkonogov is part of the law enforcement system. He’s appreciated and respected. But the Captain’s life takes an abrupt turn — he is criminally charged. He escapes, becoming a prey hunted by ex-colleagues. At night, he receives a warning from the afterlife that he is destined for Hell. But he still has a chance to change destiny and be accepted in Heaven if he repents and if one person sincerely forgives him. He sets out on a mission to find absolution with no idea of the trials he will face.

Clara Sola

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén | Sweden, Belgium, Costa Rica, Germany | 2021 | Spanish | 106 min

In a remote village in Costa Rica, 40-year-old Clara is believed to have a special connection to God. When her sexuality, which has always been repressed by her mother, is stirred by her attraction to her niece’s new boyfriend, Clara takes off on a journey to break free from social and religious conventions and become the master of her newfound powers.

Compartment No.6

Juho Kuosmanen | Finland, Germany, Estonia, Russia | 2021 | Russian, Finnish | 107 min

A young Finnish woman escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic port of Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a Russian miner, the unexpected encounter leads the occupants of compartment no.6 to face the truth about their own yearning for human connection. The film won the Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. International Films at GFF

Murina

Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović | Croatia, Brazil, USA, Slovenia | 2021 | Croatian, English | 92 min

Tensions rise between restless teenager Julija and her oppressive father Ante when an old family friend arrives at their Croatian island home. As Ante attempts to broker a life-changing deal, their tranquil yet isolated existence leaves Julija wanting more from this influential visitor, who provides a taste of liberation over a weekend laid bare to desire and violence.

Once Upon a Time in Calcutta

Aditya Vikram Sengupta | India, France, Norway | 2021 | Bengali | 135 min

After the loss of her daughter, Ela not only loses her identity as a mother, but also the only reason to be with her husband. When she’s refused a loan by the bank, her boss, a Ponzi scheme owner, makes her an offer she struggles to accept. Ela reconnects with her stepbrother to reclaim her half of the old family theatre, but he refuses, blaming her for his own fate.

Playground

International Films at GFFLaura Wandel | Belgium | 2021 | French | 72 min

Set in Belgium, the film tells the story of 7-year-old Nora and her older brother Abel as they go back to school. When Nora witnesses Abel being bullied by other kids, she rushes to protect him. When she wants to warn their father, Abel forces her to remain silent. Torn between the worlds of the child and the adult, Nora is caught in a conflict of loyalty, but will ultimately find her place.

Sundown

International Films at GFFMichel Franco | Mexico, France, Sweden | 2021 | Spanish, English | 83 min

From the outside, it would appear that Neil Bennett, a wealthy Briton vacationing with loved ones at a luxury resort in Acapulco, wants for nothing. Until, that is, a single phone call shatters his idyll: there’s been a death in the family. Sundown is an incisive study of class disparity and familial strife.

White Building

Kavich Neang | Cambodia, France, China | 2021 | Khmer | 90 min

20-year-old Samnang and two of his friends live in the landmark White Building, a slum in Phnom Penh, a rapidly changing city. When the White Building is set to be demolished, Samnang observes his father’s unsuccessful attempt to unite his divided neighbors to gain governmental compensation for the moving residents, while he himself must face his best friend’s departure from Cambodia.

The Worst Person in the World

International Films at GFFJoachim Trier | Norway, France, Sweden, Denmark | 2021 | Norwegian | 127 min

Julie is turning thirty and her life is an existential mess. One night, she gatecrashes a party and meets the young and charming Eivind. She breaks up with her boyfriend Aksel and throws herself into yet another new relationship, hoping for a new perspective on her life, only to realize that some life choices are already behind her. The film premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where Renate Reinsve won the Best Actress award for her performance.

Feature Documentary Competition

Life of Ivanna

Renato Borrayo Serrano | Russia, Norway, Estonia, Finland | 2021 | Russian, Nenets | 80 min

Life is raw and harsh out in the Arctic tundra, where young Ivanna lives a nomadic life with her five children. Portrayed as a tough and charismatic woman, she is put to the test when she has to give up the traditional life of the Nenets people and move to the city.

A Man and a Camera

Guido Hendrikx | The Netherlands | 2021 | Dutch | 65 min

The story follows an enigmatic entity that roams the Dutch hinterlands, silently pointing a camera at all that it encounters. Soon, it finds itself standing in front of a doorway and encounters a diverse group of people. Met with an uninvited, inscrutable camera operator, how will the region’s inhabitants respond?

Ostrov – Lost Island

Svetlana Rodina, Laurent Stoop | Switzerland | 2021 | Russian | 92 min

For Ivan, the stubborn descendant of a dynasty of fishermen, there is only one job: illegal fishing for caviar. Ivan was imprisoned twice for poaching, and yet he goes out to sea again. They want their children, Anton and Alina, to have a better future somewhere else, but Anton has already started to go out to sea.

The Quest for Tonewood

Hans Lukas Hansen | Norway | 2021 | Bosnian, English, Italian | 90 min

In certain alpine forests, one might find special trees that are worth their weight in gold thanks to the unique ability of their wood to amplify sound, which makes it the ideal material for the best string instruments in the world. This film is about the quest for these magical trees and their “tonewood”—a gift so rare, so secret, and so remote, that finding the perfect one can be the quest of a lifetime.

Sabaya

Hogir Hirori | Sweden | 2021 | Arabic, Kurdish | 91 min

With just a mobile phone and a gun, Mahmud, Ziyad, and their group risk their lives by trying to save Yazidi women and girls being held by ISIS as Sabaya (sex slaves) in the most dangerous camp in the Middle East, Al-Hol in Syria. The film received the Jury Prize at the 2021 Hong Kong Film Festival and the World Documentary Prize at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. International Films at GFF

Silence of the Tides

Pieter-Rim de Kroon | Netherlands | 2020 | No Dialogue | 102 min

The Wadden Sea is unique in both flora and fauna, but even the human life that unfolds in the world’s largest wetland region has a special character. The area starts at the Danish city of Esbjerg and stretches across Germany into the Netherlands, but the changing seasons and the perpetual ebb and flow mean that the landscape is constantly changing.

This Rain Will Never Stop

Alina Gorlova | Ukraine, Germany, Latvia | 2020 | Arabic, German, Kurdish, Russian, Ukrainian | 104 min

Taking the audience on a powerful journey through humanity’s endless loop of war and peace, the film follows 20-year-old Andriy Suleyman, a volunteer with the Red Cross. He struggles to secure a sustainable future as he faces the dilemma of whether to escape the violent military conflict or help relieve the suffering of war-injured patients.

Apallou

Niko Avgoustidi | France, Greece | 2021 | Greek | 20 min

As a grandson returns to his ancestral village for the winter, a grandfather too returns, but from death, to see the grandson one last time. Meanwhile, the village is unable to cope with the homecomings that occurred out of love.

Branka

Ákos K. Kovács | Hungary | 2021 | Bosnian, Hungarian, Serbian | 20 min

Set in Yugoslavia during the Croatian-Serbian war in 1991, Branka is a chilling thriller based on true child-abduction stories in Serbia. Far away from war zones, the eponymous protagonist gets a job at a maternity ward of a state hospital. The young woman is all alone, but soon discovers that loneliness is not the hardest burden that she has to carry, as newborns are disappearing from the hospital.

Short Film Competition

Creature

María Silvia Esteve | Argentina, Switzerland | 2021 | Spanish | 16 min

In the depths of her mind, pain takes the form of a creature. A love relationship unleashes the obscurity within it to evoke a world of shadows into the real world.

Displaced

Samir Karahoda | Kosovo | 2021 | Albanian, Turkish | 15 min

In post-war Kosovo, driven by the ambition of keeping their beloved sport alive, two local table-tennis players wander from one obscure location to another, carrying with them the only possession of the club: their tables.

Hair Tie, Egg, Homework Books

Luo Runxiao | China | 2021 | Mandarin | 14 min

As a model student, 5th grader Lin Yuqi is assigned to give a speech about her family at the parents’ meeting one evening. But after Lin finds out that she shares the same secret with a mischievous classmate who takes away her hair tie, she starts to have second thoughts.

His Name Was Cargo

Marco Signoretti | Italy | 2021 | Italian | 17 min

In Italy, in the late 1960s, two strangers arrive at a village in the south of the country. The first one has a movie camera and the second one has a gun. Crossing that wasteland, the two will have an unexpected opportunity to change the course of history.

Holy Son

Aliosha Messine | Italy | 2021 | Italian | 20 min

The daily routine of a young couple is disturbed by some shocking news. A strange dream appears to herald a terrible and, at the same time, wonderful truth.

The Journey

Ève Saint-Louis | Canada | 2021 | French | 22 min

After a year away from home, Chantale, who now lives and studies in Paris, returns to Quebec City, to spend the holidays with her mother and sister. Against all odds, her father, with whom she has a contentious relationship, has offered to pick her up at the airport. The Journey tells the story of their reunion: a path strewn with obstacles, where nothing goes as planned.

Junie

Grégoire Graesslin | Belgium, France | 2020 | French | 23 min

The plot follows the unusual, thrilling story of Junie, a young woman and the only female farmer on an isolated farm, where she works as an apprentice for a gruff farmer. Junie suffers from a strange illness: every morning, she wakes up in the middle of the countryside, lost and confused.

Katia

Andrey Natotsinsky | Russia | 2021 | Russian | 19 min

After her daughter’s death, Galina remains absolutely alone and loses the meaning of life. Suddenly, she finds the reincarnation of her daughter in a prostitute, whom she sees near the elevator of her house. After inviting her to her home, Galina learns that the girl plans to leave the country the following day. International Films at GFF

The Last Day of Patriarchy

Olmo Omerzu | Slovenia, Czech Republic, France | 2021 | Czech | 15 min

Nina is pregnant by Jakub. Today, he introduces her to his family. They’re all gathered in the hospital at the bedside of his grandfather. Just as the young lady tries to put on a brave face, she is faced with the surprising reaction of the dying relative: he wants to see her breasts. This sparks a debate to which she is not invited – should the patriarch’s last wish be satisfied?

Lili Alone

Zou Jing | China, Hong Kong, Singapore | 2021 | Mandarin Chinese | 22 min

Lili, a young mother, lives with her gambler husband in a remote part of Sichuan. Lonely and poor, she heads for the city in a bid to earn enough money to save her dying father.

Noir-Soleil

Marie Larrivé | France | 2021 | French, English, Italian | 20 min

After an earthquake in Naples bay, the body of a man is found. The Italian police believe the man killed himself 40 years ago. They contact his son Dino and granddaughter Victoria for a DNA test. During this unexpected journey together, the young woman digs into her father’s mysterious past, while Dino immerses himself unwillingly in the scenery of his childhood.

On Solid Ground

Jela Hasler | Switzerland | 2021 | German | 12 min

It’s summertime in a city and the coolness of a morning swim in the river quickly vanishes as the heat exacerbates insignificant daily nuisances. As Eli tries to escape the narrowness and agitation of the city, she keeps on facing aggression. Her rage starts to build up.

Strangers

Nora Longatti | Switzerland | 2021 | German, Russian | 20 min

In the middle of an anonymous city, a person collapses, apparently having lost consciousness. Some strangers pass her by, while others embrace her.

Ulysses Must Go

Anna Belguermi | France | 2021 | French | 13 min

Sara wants to get rid of her dog. Well, it’s not hers, it’s her lover’s. There’s no problem except that her lover is dead. And the dog pound won’t take it until tomorrow. And that means another whole day alone with the dog.

Official Selection Out of Competition

Anima

Liliya Timirzyanova | Russia | 2021 | Russian | 62 min

Anna, a conductor, suddenly leaves the city and lives alone in the northern forest on the seashore. One day, a chorister comes to her in the hope of returning Anna to her destiny but ends up staying with her as the understanding of time and the line between reality and dreams is erased.

Animal

Cyril Dion | France | 2021 | French | 120 min

16-year-old Bella and Vipulan are part of a generation that’s convinced its future is in danger. Between climate change and the sixth mass extinction of wildlife, their world could well be uninhabitable 50 years from now. International Films at GFF

Arthur Rambo

Laurent Cantet | France | 2021 | French | 86 min

A celebrated author’s career detonates after his vicious online alter-ego is exposed in Laurent Cantet’s drama about the precarity of being both French and Arab in modern Paris.

Bigger Than Us

Flore Vasseur | France | 2021 | French | 96 min

In every corner of the world, young people raise their voices regarding climate change issues, inequality, migration, agriculture, education, gun control, and even corruption. Leading a quest to join forces with the activists of the new generation, 18-year-old Indonesian Melati Wijsen starts lobbying her local government to ban the sale and distribution of plastic bags in her island, Bali.

Coppelia

Jeff Tudor, Steven de Beul, Ben Tesseur | Netherlands, Germany, Belgium | 2021 | No Dialogue | 82 min

In a modern retelling of the love story of Franz and the Swan, Coppelia tells the story of Dr. Coppelius, a cosmetic surgeon, whose lure of superficial beauty poisons the town. Swan must uncover the truth about the popular newcomer who puts the life of her beloved Franz in danger.

The Crossing

Florence Miailhe | France, Germany, Czech Republic | 2021 | French | 84 min

In an unnamed Eastern European country, siblings Kyona and Adriel are separated from their parents after their home is destroyed. They have no choice but to make a risky journey across the border, where their parents and a safe shelter await them.

Drift Away

Xavier Beauvois | France | 2021 | French | 115 min

Laurent is a police officer in a small town in Normandy, who plans to wed Marie, with whom he has a daughter. Despite the misery he witnesses on a daily basis, he loves his job. One day while trying to save a farmer who’s threatening to commit suicide, he accidentally kills him. International Films at GFF

Everything Went Fine

François Ozon | France | 2021 | French | 113 min

When 85-year-old André has a stroke, his daughter Emmanuèle hurries to be at his bedside. As he lies sick and half-paralyzed in his hospital bed, André asks Emmanuèle to help him put an end to his life

Flee

Jonas Poher Rasmussen | Denmark, France, Sweden, Norway | 2021 | Danish, Dari, English, French

Russian | 90 min

An Afghan refugee agrees to tell a remarkable personal narrative of persecution and escape on the condition that his identity is not revealed. As a means of fulfilling that wish, his filmmaker friend uses striking animation to not only protect this young man, but also enhance his tale, bending time and memory to recount a visceral journey dictated by deception, loneliness, and a relentless will to survive. The film, which had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, is unbound by documentary constraints and is swept up in an astonishing array of archival footage.

The French Dispatch

Wes Anderson | United Kingdom, France, Germany | 2021 | English | 107 min

When Arthur Howitzer, Jr. dies, his colleagues, the staff of The French Dispatch, a widely-circulating American magazine based in the French city of Ennui-sur-Blas., convene to write his obituary. Howitzer’s memories flow into four stories.

Happening

Audrey Diwan | France | 2021 | French | 100 min

France, 1963. Anne is a bright young student with a promising future ahead of her. When she becomes pregnant, she sees the opportunity to finish her studies and escape the constraints of her social background disappearing.

I Am Your Man

International Films at GFFMaria Schrader | Germany | 2021 | German | 102 min

Alma is a scientist at the famous Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In order to obtain research funds for her work, she is persuaded to participate in an extraordinary study, where, for three weeks, she has to live with a humanoid robot tailored to her character and needs, whose artificial intelligence means it’s designed to be the perfect life partner for her.

Invisible Demons

Rahul Jain | India, Finland, Germany | 2021 | English, Hindi | 70 min

The film delivers a visceral and immersive journey through the stories of just a few of Delhi’s 30 million inhabitants fighting to survive.

Mama, I’m Home

Vladimir Bitokov | Russia | 2021 | Russian | 104 min

Tonya is a bus-driver in a village in Nalchik. With her daughter, Tonya eagerly awaits the return of her only son, who is fighting for a Russian military contractor in Syria. When Tonya is told he’d been killed in action, she refuses to believe it. When all efforts to silence her are fruitless, a strange young man arrives on her doorstep.

Natural Light

Dénes Nagy | Hungary, France, Germany, Latvia | 2021 | Hungarian, Russian | 103 min

A simple farmer drafted in the Hungarian army finds himself a witness to a mass murder. The film shows the story of the man, as he is dragged into moral ambiguity and has to constantly decide whether he will put himself first, adapt to the situation, or do the right thing.

Nitram

Justin Kurzel | Australia | 2021 | English | 110 min

Nitram lives with his mother and father in suburban Australia in the mid 1990s. He lives a life of isolation and frustration, never being able to fit in. That is until he unexpectedly finds a close friend in a reclusive heiress, Helen. However, when that relationship meets a tragic end and Nitram’s loneliness and anger grow, he begins a slow descent that leads to disaster. Actor Caleb Landry Jones received the Best Actor Award for his portrayal of the titular character at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

One Second

International Films at GFFZhang Yimou | China | 2020 | Mandarin | 105 min

Set in China during the Cultural Revolution, a nameless prisoner escapes from a labor camp, risking everything to search for a stolen film reel, in which his long-lost daughter appears. On his way, he encounters a scruffy orphan girl, who’s haunted by her own terrible loss.

Paris, 13th District

Jacques Audiard | France | 2021 | French | 106 min

Paris, 13th District today. Emilie meets Camille, who is attracted to Nora, who crosses the path of Amber. These three girls and one boy redefine what modern love is

Unclenching the Fists

International Films at GFFKira Kovalenko | Georgia, Russia | 2021 | Russian | 97 min

In a former mining town in North Ossetia, a young woman struggles to escape the stifling hold of the family she loves as much as she rejects. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it received the Un Certain Regard Award.

16 Arab Films to Catch at GFF 2021

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