Echoes of #PÖFF23

#PÖFF23 might be over but as the festival was attended by over 180 journalists, film students and young writers striving to become film critics, we were left with a plethora of interesting reviews, interviews and articles and we’d like to share a selection of some them with you!

#PÖFF23 Lifetime Achievement Award laureate Andrei Konchalovsky and his Sin

Sin

Andrei Konchalovsky, or ‘Andron’ as he is sometimes called in his homeland Russia, was probably one the most interviewed person at the festival, receiving the honourable Lifetime Achievement Award and screening his latest film, the ‘arthouse blockbuster’ Sin – a lavish, artistically resonating portrait of the Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Out of the 30+ interviews in several different languages, we picked two to share with you. Here’s Leonardo Goi’s talk with him published in the Film Stage, discussing Michelangelo, artist’s role in the society and the naivety of Tarkovsky.

He also spoke with Screen International’s Geoffrey MacNab about why he wanted to make a film about Michelangelo, why he left Hollywood and what he remembers of the stories he heard there.

Screen also published a review of the film written by Demetrios Matheou.

“Are Marvel films cinema?” dispute reaches Tallinn

Dante Spinotti in Tallinn

Remember when Martin Scorsese caused a small earthquake, saying that Marvel films aren’t cinema but a theme park ride? Tallinn offered another chapter for this dispute, as during an interview he gave in Tallinn to Tiffany Pritchard, two-time Academy Award nominee DOP Dante Spinotti who has shot Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp reacted to Scorsese’s comment, saying he was not thinking right when he made that accusation.

Spinotti gave a popular masterclass in Tallinn and presented the film Now is Everything that played in the Rebels with a Cause competition, which he produced and directed the photography for.

The Official Selection

The premiere competition programme of the festival offered 21 distinct stories from four continents of the world. There was one man who not only watched all the films, but also wrote about all of them. Dirty Movies is a film news and reviews portal with a distinct taste for all things “dirty” and the editor and critic Victor Fraga watched, reviewed and rated all the films in the Official Selection, in addition to some films from other programmes, offering a wild amount of interesting reads.

Kontora

Made in Japan, directed by Anshul Chauhan from India, the winner of the Grand Prix and the Best Music awards, stole the hearts of the international jury led by Mike Newell and was also very well received by the critics. Stephen Dalton wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that the film “…delivers high-gloss monochrome visuals, strong performances and a layered narrative that wavers between past and present, realism and magical realism, straight family drama and poetic allegory”.

Muscle

Muscle was another favourite of both the critics and juries – the middle-aged man’s spiritual downfall in the hands of masculine gym teacher with toxic influence won the Best Actor award for the star Cavan Clerkin and sparking a series of praising reviews, including publications like The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International and Cineuropa, which also published an interview with the film’s director Gerard Johnson who speaks about the gym culture explosion in the UK.

Gipsy Queen

Hailed for her central performance as the migrant single mother of two, who, as last measure of hope in a dire financial situation, decides to return to boxing ring she had left behind years ago, actress Alina Serban captured the hearts of the festival audiences, critics and the jury, who handed her the Best Actress of award. Her powerful acceptance speech shed light on her past as a victim of racial abuse for being a Roma, while also serving an inspired and inflaming callout for fighting racial intolerance and prejudice. See her interview in Cineuropa, read the reviews in Screen International, Cineuropa and Eye For Film.

Arracht

The bleak historical Irish drama set during the years of the Great Famine was received well by the audience and critics, with Screen International’s Fionnuala Halligan calling it one of the programme’s highlights, as praise also arrived from Amber Wilkinson in Eye For Film.

Gutterbee

A satire set in a made-up town in Southern US with a kink for sausages and Bavarian culture (yes, it features Ewen Bremner as a German entrepreneur with a fetish for Southern German ethnic clothing and dance moves), aimed as a cultural-critical missile towards the far-right mentality, Gutterbee was always going to divide opinions, as is clear in this Screen International review by Demetrios Matheou. The film continues on its wicked path successfully, with a next chapter playing out at the mighty Rotterdam film festival.

First Feature Competition

Isaac

Although not winning any awards, this artistically complex and intellectually challenging Lithuania debut set in three historical contexts, was among the favourite films of several critics, landing praising reviews in The Hollywood Reporter and Cineuropa and reaching Patrick Gamble’s list of best things he saw in Tallinn in the Little White Lies magazine.

Looted

Winner of the Special Jury prize for its talented ensemble cast that included Charley Palmer Rothwell, Thomas Turgoose, Tom Fisher and Morgane Polanski, Looted was the talk in town with reviews in The Hollywood Reporter and Screen International who also published an interview with the film’s director Rene Pannevis. The film is the coming of age story of a young man whose everyday life is torn between caring for his bedridden father, finding a job and hanging out with the gang of his friends with who they occasionally run illegal odd jobs.

Rebels with a Cause

Cook, F**k, Kill

The newest international competition at the festival, dedicated to artistically more obscure and out of the box films, the Rebels with a Cause had its most successful year as of yet, with most of the films receiving a warm welcome and a lot of attention. Russia’s LGBT-themed film Outlaw sparked a series of interviews in Russian and Estonian media, while the provocative family violence-themed Cook F**k Kill received positive reviews in Variety and in Screen International, where Demetrios Matheou called it a “complicated, fascinating film”.

Other critical favourites included the psychological thriller with a darkly comic edge, Advantages of Travelling by Train that was praised in Cineuropa by Marta Balaga, calling it “… frankly rather brilliant, with unpredictable stories hidden within stories hidden within other stories, Russian Doll-style, blending in seamlessly and with visual energy to spare.”

A Family, an off-kilter tale of a man recruting strangers to create staged scenes of his family’s past, was also received with big enthusiasm as Anton Bitel called it “Funny, bleak and profound, and full of deliriously deadpan lines (“You should not blame a fruit dessert for your form”), it casts its director as a far more assured wrangler of ensembles and ideas than the unimginative, emotionally constipated Emerson could ever be.” in his Eye For Film review, while also being highlighted by Patrick Gamble in his Little White Lies roundup.

Asian Movie Pulse

Dedicated solely to Asian cinema, AMP asked PÖFF regular Marina Richter with the daunting task to review all the Asian films in the programme, which she achieved with aplomb.

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