What success stories have started from PÖFF? How are films premiered at PÖFF doing in the world? What is written about PÖFF?
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In the year-end film charts, it is always worth following the charts of the domestic films of the countries. In a sense, this is feedback for the programmers, because the selections are made half a year before the rankings are compiled.
The Hungarian cultural publication KULTer published its 2022 ranking of domestic films.
In ninth place is the world premiere of PÖFF25, "Perpetuity" by György Pálf, who won the Best Production Design award.
In fifth place is the world premiere of the PÖFF26 Just Film competition for youth films, „Summer to Come” by György Mór Kárpáti, who got Jury special mentioning.
In fourth place is the Grand Prix laureate of the PÖFF26 Just Film youth film competition, „Six Weeks” by Noémi Veronika Szakonyi.
In first place is the PÖFF26 Just Film competition film for youth films, „Larry” by Szilárd Bernáthi.
Of course charts, even festival awards, are not the absolute truth. But based on the list above, it can be argued that Just Film's programmers made the most of Hungarian feature films.
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Outlook is a major Indian publishing house that is managing magazines in print and online. The circulation of the paper magazine is 1.8 million. Online, Outlook India receives about 8.5 million hits per month, of which 2/5 are readers from India and the rest of the world. Prateek Sur is one of the Associate Editors of this publication, who writes about films and film news. To get an idea of the work of a film journalist in India, it is worth looking at how many stories he writes a day - four to ten!
This journalist prepared his recommendation for readers, „What Lies Ahead In 2023: 5 Film Gems To Look Out For”. Among these five suggestions, is the world premiere of PÖFF's main competition program „Sanaa” by Sudhanshu Saria.
„Sanaa is one such story, a social drama, that follows a headstrong and ambitious girl who is raging an internal battle that is rooted in unhealed trauma. The film has talented actor Radhika Madan as the lead, along with Pooja Bhatt, Sohum Shah and Shikha Talsania in pivotal roles. Sanaa had its world premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival which is one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe. It was the only Indian film competing for The Grand Prix For Best Film in 2022 at the Festival. The film is directed by National Film Award-winning filmmaker Sudhanshu Saria.”
Giedrius Tamoševičius and Vytautas V. Landsbergis "The Poet”
Fifteen years ago, a war of words broke out in Germany over film criticism. Several directors and producers were the attacking parties. For example, producer Guenter Rohrbach called film critics autistic and elitists, writing among other things: „Do we even need them, these elite self-promoters who turn pirouettes around our films? Is the meager praise they occasionally give worth all the suffering they inflict, all the damage they do to us?”
This was answered by Josef Schnelle, the head of the film critics' organisation at the time. He brought the discussion to a wider level. First, he accused the dailies of only bringing together film critics. Second, the "thumbs up, thumbs down" from the US (Roger Ebert's initiative) is said to have turned film criticism into a "product test". Schnelle also poked a hornet's nest by saying that only quality journalism by seasoned, full-time film critics can advance filmmaking, while inferior amateur critics and "hate blogs" prevent sophisticated films from establishing themselves. The debate at the time took place at a time when the number of film blogs was growing exponentially. Of course, bloggers did not fail to answer it.
Time has given thoughts. We also had a peak time of film blogs in Estonia, which is now fading into non-existence. There are few established film critics who write on a daily basis. Newspapers prefer short "product introductions" rather than what Josef Schnelle fought for: „It is the critics’ prerogative to praise and promote smaller productions that might get missed. When it comes to big-budget or Hollywood films, the critics have virtually no influence on the box office because the audience for these films rarely read reviews.”
Because of this, Estonian film criticism needs a film portal that unites writers in order to survive and develop, which would significantly expand the publishing possibilities.
Ten years ago, Meredith Taylor founded the online film magazine Filmuforia. This is not a solo project of one person. As an editor, he has been able to form a solid circle of writers. At the same time, he continues to write for several other publications in addition to his magazine. Last year, the magazine published reviews of films shown at the Sundance, Rotterdam, Berlin, Bergamo, Karlovy Vary, Cannes, Locarno, Venice, Toronto, San Sebastian, Marrakech, and Red Sea film festivals. And of course, the magazine was also accredited by PÖFF. And the "thumbs up, thumbs down" rating hasn't gone anywhere either. Since it is perhaps too radical, more asterisks are used. The highest grade is 4/4.
OFFICIAL SELECTION - COMPETITION
Béatrice Pollet "And Yet We Were All Blind” (France) - 3,5/4
Sérgio Machado "River of Desire” (Brazil) - 3/4
Hilmar Oddsson "Driving Mum” (Iceland, Estonia) - 4/4
Matías Bize "The Punishment” (Chile, Argentina) - 3/4
BALTIC FILM COMPETITION
Giedrius Tamoševičius and Vytautas V. Landsbergis "The Poet” (Lithuania) - 4/4
Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir "A Letter from Helga” (Iceland, Netherlands, Estonia) - 4/4
Sérgio Machado "River of Desire”
The International Cinephile Society is a global organisation of professional film critics, journalists, scholars and historians. Its 150 members also present their awards every February.
Matthew Joseph Jenner (South Africa) selected two films from PÖFF program to review.
Sérgio Machado "River of Desire" (Brazil) - 3.5/5
„A beautiful document of working-class Brazil and the people who inhabit it, as filtered through the perspective of a director who has an implicit understanding of all the details that make these stories so compelling.”
Jun Robles Lana "About Us But Not About Us” (Philippines) - 4/5
„Complex, riveting and achingly beautiful, About Us But Not About Us is a film with a remarkable grasp on the human condition and its many existential peculiarities.”
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The Quinlan is a magasine of Italian film critics. It is classic in this sense that there is an editorial board next to the editor-in-chief. The magazine is always present at the Venice, Cannes, Berlin, Turin and Rome film festivals. It is gratifying that the professional film critics there have also noticed PÖFF. If in 2020 and 2021 only one review of PÖFF films was published in the magazine each year, now four films have already been introduced.
Giampiero Raganelli wrote about the following PÖFF films:
Hilmar Oddsson "Driving Mum” (Iceland, Estonia)
Kôji Shiraishi "Safe Word” (Japan)
Krzysztof Zanussi "Perfect Number” (Poland, Israel, Italy)
Ryuichi Mino ”Ginji The Speculator" (Japan)
Mary Pickford Theatre
It is not often that several Estonian films are shown on the same day and in the same cinema at a foreign film festival. In this sense, January 7 was noteworthy.
The Palm Springs Film Festival alongside other films, two Estonian feature films that participated in the PÖFF Baltic competition program were also on the schedule:
Program „Awards Buzz – Best International Feature Film” included film „Kalev” by Ove Musting. Program „World Cinema Now” included film „Melchior the Apothecary” by Elmo Nüganen. Note that this is was Nüganen's second film at the Palm Springs Film Festival: the film "1944" was on the program in the year 2016.
Both films were shown at the Mary Pickford Theater. It was opened in 2001. The cinema got its name from the fact that there was a small Pickford museum in the lobby, which is no longer there: at some point, the actress's family took back the items deposited in the museum. Looking at the facade of the cinema, it is hard to believe that there are 14 halls with a total of 3,000 seats. The cinema has its own solar panel park, the first of its kind in the US, greatly saving energy costs.
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Krzysztof Osica works daily as an editor for the Polish broadcasting company TVN Group. But besides that, he has been a contributor to the Polish film site Filmaster for eleven years. It is a connecting platform for film lovers to publish reviews, rate movies, etc.
Filmidele tärnide andmisel on ta ülimalt tagasihoidlik. Paari aasta jooksul on vist ainult üks film saanud 9/10, pügal allapoole vaid mõned üksikud. Seevastu avaldatud arvustused on Google-tõlgi abil loetuna argumenteerivalt huvitavad.
He is extremely modest when it comes to giving stars to films. Only several films have earned 9/10 or 8/10 points in the last few years. On the other hand, published reviews are quite interesting (translated thanks to Google Translate).
He published the following reviews from the latest PÖFF:
Juraj Lehotský „Plastic Symphony” (Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic) - 5/10
Matías Bize „The Punishment” (Chile, Argentina) - 7/10
Sudhanshu Saria „Sanaa” (India) - 5/10
Ádám Császi „Three Thousand Numbered Pieces” (Hungary) - 7/10
Ove Musting „Kalev” (Estonia) - 6/10
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This is the season for all sorts of lists and charts.
Here is one of them, from the authors of Dirty Movies. They tirelessly watched new films at PÖFF and promptly published reviews of what they saw. Typical of the publication, the author of the review gave the film a star. Here are the movies that got 5/5 in random order:
Ahmad Bahrami „The Wastetown” (Iran)
Christopher Roth „Servus Papa, See You in Hell” (Germany)
Gentian Koçi „A Cup of Coffee and New Shoes On” (Albania, Portugal, Greece, Kosovo)
Hilmar Oddsson „Driving Mum” (Iceland, Estonia)
Fisnik Maxville „The Land Within” (Switzerland, Kosovo)
Çiğdem Sezgin „Suna” (Turkey, Spain, Bulgaria)
Dito Tsintsadze „Roxy” (Germany, Georgia, Belgium)
Inna Sahhakjan „Aurora's Sunrise” (Armenia, Lithuania, Germany)
Giedrius Tamoševičius, Vytautas V. Landsbergis „Poet” (Lithuania)
Etienne Fourie „Stiekyt”
There is reason to talk about one of the premieres of the PÖFF main competition program, the South African (LAV) film „Stiekyt” directed by Etienne Fourie. The film has been invited to participate in the Harbor program of the Rotterdam festival. The festival characterises this program as "Echoing Rotterdam's port city identity, Harbor offers a safe haven to the full range of contemporary cinema that the festival champions."
But what is more important here is that LAV did not submit its film to the Oscar for a non-English language film this year. There, the matter is organized in such a way that the authors of the films themselves submit their wishes to the National Film and Video Fund, which makes a selection from among them. The result should have been revealed by the end of November at the latest: the makers of nine films waited, but the fund remained silent.
In the middle of December, the press was interested, and the answer of the representative of the foundation was laconic: LAV will not participate this year. The reason is that most of the films submitted for consideration do not meet Oscar regulations. And those that do not represent minority groups in an appropriate way.
Brett Ahlers-Innes, the producer of "Phariseelik", has given comments to the press. He says that at the moment the Oscar nomination is not important, but rather the label that one or another film has been presented, which gives the domestic film more distribution and sales potential. And it goes without saying that he is disturbed and even considers the argument that the film that met the conditions "did not appropriately represent a minority community" to be dangerous. Ahlers-Innes argues that "Stiekyt" was after all selected for such top festivals as PÖFF and Rotterdam. The foundation's justification is said to be an ear wedge for the minority communities who participated in the creation of the film and who are now being accused of portraying minorities in an inappropriate manner.
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Kerala is an Indian state, which is a few thousand square kilometers smaller in the area but has a population 38 times larger than Estonia. The most important film festival of the state, which is held with the notable support of the government, is as old as PÖFF.
The Best Indian Debut Award went to Siddharth Chauhan for the film "Amar Colony", which was first pointed out by PÖFF: we received the special award of the debut film competition for the original for the vision.
But the Kerala festival had other things to highlight as well. The World Cinema program which consists of 78 films showed PÖFF's opening film, Leon Prudovsky's work “My Neighbor Adolf”, as well as PÖFF's main competition film, Etienne Fourie "Stand Out".
However, the "Auteur Odes" program consisted of 14 films. Among others, Krzysztof Zanussi "The Perfect Number" and Kim Ki-duki "Call of God" - both also from the PÖFF program.