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PÖFF unveils the first Official Selection titles

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival announces the first eight films that will be competing in the festival’s premiere competition programme – the Official Selection.

The Official Selection – Competition has been run in its present form since the festival received it’s ‘A-category’ status from FIAPF in 2014. Since then the programme has been a competition programme without any geographic restrictions, screening world, international or European premieres of films by established filmmakers that the festival’s programming team wishes to highlight for its audience, film critics and the international film industry.

The Official Selection – Competition will be overseen by an international jury of film industry professionals, that will be announced in the second half of October. They will hand out the following prizes: Grand Prix for the Best Film (grant of 10 000 euros from the City of Tallinn, shared by the Director and Producer); Best Director (grant of 5000 euros); Best Script; Best Actress; Best Actor; Best Cinematographer (grant of 1000 euros from Angel Films); Best Music.

The first screenings of the Official Selection will run between the 20th and 29th of November. The full programme of the Official Selection will be announced on the 24th of October.

FILMS

Coming Home Again
South Korea, director: Wayne Wang | European premiere

BAFTA-nominated (Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, 1986) and Berlin’s Silver Bear winner (Best Director for Smoke, 1995) Wayne Wang’s 22nd film will arrive at its European premiere after a Special Presentation slot at Toronto and Gala Presentation in Busan. The film stars Justin Chon (actor in the Twilight series and the actor and director of Gook) and Jackie Chung (Station 19 and Someone Else). The story follows the young Chang-rae’s as he prepares a traditional Korean dinner for his cancer-stricken mother, his father and sister – for what is to be the family’s last New Year’s Eve dinner, as food, memories, roots, random encounters and quarrels transform this day into an emotional journey as he prepares for the inevitable departure of his mother.

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Girl With No Mouth
Turkey, director: Can Evrenol | European premiere

Having screened at numerous genre festivals with his horror films Housewife and Baskin that premiered in Toronto, Turkish director Can Evrenol plays with new genres this time around. Set in an apocalyptic near future where parts of the world have been devastated by a great war while others are being ruled by ruthless militants who don’t shy away from brutal experiments with children, the film offers us a twisted version of the ‘kids on a mission’ premise.

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Gutterbee
Denmark, director: Ulrich Thomsen | European premiere

Ulrich Thomsen has made dozens of memorable roles as an actor, starring in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration and The Commune, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Weight of Water and Ridley Scott’s The Kingdom of Heaven. Gutterbee is his second film as a director, a grittily awkward and politically allegorical anti-Western set in Gutterbee, the deep South of the US. A German entrepreneur / Bavarian heritage fetishist (Ewen Bremner) teams up with a small-town hustler (Antony Starr) to start a German sausage restaurant, an idea that instantly clashes with the xenophobic element of the town that has lost the majority of its population as the racist attitude drives away anybody who doesn’t pass as a white heterosexual American.

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Gypsy Queen
Germany / Austria, director: Hüseyin Tabak | International premiere

Having won the Black Nights sub-festival Sleepwalkers (now called PÖFF Shorts) special mention award in 2008 with his short film Cheeese…. German filmmaker Hüseyin Tabak returns to Black Nights with Gipsy Queen, a tale of a Roma woman Ali and her two children struggling to survive economic difficulties and social exclusion in Hamburg, while Ali gradually realises her former profession – pro-boxing – could be her only solution to their problems.

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Lost Lotus
Hongkong / Netherlands, director LIU Shu | World premiere

A young Chinese teacher Wu Yu, searches for the hit-and-run driver responsible for her mother’s death. As she tries to understand her mother’s faith, Buddhist principles gradually grow in her and start appeasing her pain, but a revelation about the cause of the accident creates a new set of challenges for her and her marriage. Director and scriptwriter Liu Shu has achieved a delicate balance in the depiction of mourning alongside the clash of religious and moral values with the cold pragmatic world of power and money. Lost Lotus is her second film after Lotus, which competed in the Venice Film Festival’s Critics week in 2012.

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Monster
Ireland, director: Tom Sullivan | World premiere

Director-screenwriter Tom Sullivan offers a hauntingly bleak, slow-burning tale of overcoming grief. Set in Ireland in 1845 the film centers on Colmán Sharkey, a fisherman, a father, a husband, who takes in a stranger at the behest of a local priest. Patsy, a former soldier arrives just ahead of ‘the blight,’ a crop disease that caused the Great Plague, killing and displacing millions of Irishmen, while also disrupting the life of Colmán and his family.

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Through Black Glass
Russia, director: Konstantin Lopushansky | International premiere

Russian auteur Konstantin Lopushansky is no stranger to Black Nights, having screened at the festival’s Eurasia Competition with his film The Role that brought the Best Actor award for it’s lead Aleksandr Efremov. He also plays a central role in his new film, the diabolically antagonistic Russian oligarch who pays for the eye surgery of a young nun in exchange for marriage. Lopushansky’s unique directorial style and storytelling offer a story rich with stark social commentary and religious allegory.

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When the Moon Was Full
Iran, director: Narges Abyar | International premiere

Director Narges Abyar returns to the Official Selection of Black Nights after winning the Best Director award in 2016 with Breath, which was later selected as the country’s entry for the Academy Awards as the Best Foreign Language Film candidate. Her latest film is a study of two fundamentally opposite forces – Islamic terrorism and love. Faezeh, a woman from Teheran marries Abdol-Hamid from an Iranian province near the border of Pakistan. Soon after the marriage, she finds out that the man’s older brother is a religious extremist trying to recruit his brother for his bloody cause, putting the marriage to its ultimate test.

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