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Filmmakers Carlos Reygadas and Danielle Arbid join the line-up of Gijón International Film Festival


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(Rating average 2,97)

Carlos Reygadas
The 45th Gijón International Film festival, to be held from 22nd November to 1st December, will include two retrospective cycles on filmmakers Carlos Reygadas and Danielle Arbid, the first of which includes the screening of Stellet Licht (Prize of the Jury at Cannes), the Mexican candidate to the Oscar for Best Foreing Language Film.
These two retrospectives will show the filmography of both directors, who will also attend the festival and take part in various q&a's. These two retrospectives complete the section that the festival devotes every year to review the body of work of prestigious directors, along with those of Shinya Tsukamoto, Pawel Pawlikowski and Anna Biller.

Carlos Reygadas (México DF, 1971) is the most promising young Mexican director, maybe the other side of the success of Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón. Significantly, directorArturo Ripstein has placed Reygadas as a model of true Mexican film, referring on the other hand to the spoilt-by-Hollywood ones, Iñárritu and Cuarón as pure Yankee cinema, nothing more. Reygadas, is a different matter altogether, his films, drawing both from documentary and fiction, mean a brutal clash, a relentless visual impact, so provocative and realistic it simply leaves you breathless. Reygadas subject matter goes from social criticism to loneliness, from existentialist emptiness to guilt and subsequent redemption, through the pain of existence, sex as a means of escape, tragic humour or the endless search for the meaning of life. Apart from Stellet Licht, his filmography includes Japan (2002) (Camera dOr and Special Mention in Cannes and awards at Edinburgh, Thessalonica and Stockholm film festivals), and Battle in Heaven (2005), a mind-blowing parade of people on the edge.

For her part, Danielle Arbid's filmmaking (Beirut, 1970) is epidemic, sensual and reflective. Everyday tales where, above concrete conflicts and a sometimes terrible reality, the characters' feelings and joy for life blossom. In her latest film, Un Homme Perdu (2007), which premiered at the Directors Fortnight in Cannes, she shows that human desire for exploring instinct, holding to memories and finding in sexuality the meaning of life. Seule Avec la Guerre (2000), her first documentary, was awarded a Silver leopard at Locarno, a story where Arbid pours her memories, her family albums and her own recollections of Lebanon. Aux Frontières (2002) is a trip along the border between Israel and Siria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt: that border so carefully watched over is the place where the filmmakers camera captures the Palestinian refugees who cross it everyday. Maarek Hob (2004) is set in 1983, during the Lebanese Civil War, and it is a wonderful depiction of a little girls awakening to the world of adults and their complex relationships, full of secrets, repressed desires and taboos.


Stellet Licht (Mexico / France / Holland/ Germany, 2007)

Mexican candidate to the Oscar for Best Non English Speaking Film and grand Jury Prize at Cannes. Settled in the North of Mexico, the members of a Menonite community live according to the same religion, traditions, language and customs of their 16thcentury Dutch ancestors. In this closely-knit, endogamic clique ruled by theocracy, a family man has fallen for another woman. The perfection of this beauty which sweats cold for fear of love is just irresistible, just as the cold, calm and blue aesthetics used by Reygadas to transmit the fight and the pain, the doubts, the chaos, God and Devil tossing a man around, a man who for the first time in his life is free to choose.

Battle in Heaven (Mexico / Belgium / France / Germany, 2005)

The mestizo chauffeur of a general and his wife kidnap a baby. Before they can get the ransom money, the baby accidentally dies, The generals daughter, who prostitutes herself for the sheer pleasure of it, shares the story of this crime he tells her about. From then on, self-destruction through guilt, sin as stigma and subsequent penitence in a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Nothing is more beautifully worse than this, nothing more fascinatingly imperfect: real bodies with real feelings, with their fat and spotty skin and saggy breasts, with their remorse and cruelty, and sacrifice and selfishness.

Japón (Mexico / Germany / Holland / Spain, 2002)

Camera dor Special mention in Cannes and awards at the festivals of Edinburgh, Thessalonica and Stockholm. A man leaves civilization behind to walk towards death. He is almost a ronin, a Japanese warrior with no lord to serve with his weapons, and so, a useless, purposeless life. The journey of this man towards his destruction goes through a desolate, arid and dying world. Some occasional encounters and particularly one which will instil a bit of life in him: Ascensión, a woman who is as old as the world itself, as wise as a witch and capable of infusing some desperate happiness with her body and her sex.



Seule avec la guerre (France / Belgium 2000)

Silver Leopard at Locarno (Video Category). Lebanon, Danielle Arbids country, was one of the most prosperous, open and cosmopolitan places in the world. From 1975 a 1990, it was ravaged by civil war. The director builds a harsh, uncompromising portrait with her own memories, her family photographs and conversations with fighters in both sides, a portrait of the Beirut which is trying to recover while denying the most macabre years of its history.

Conversation de salon (France, 2004)

Three groups of Lebanese women talk in the same salon at different times. Their subjects is their everyday reality, what matters: war next door, their husbands, sons, their feelings. Golden Leopard at Locarno (Video Category).


Campo de Batalla (Maarek Hob) (Belgium / France / Germany, 2004)

1983, Civil war being fought in Beirut. Lina has turned 12 and is finding out about becoming a woman on her own. With no mother and a father too busy with his own self-destruction and unwholesome pleasures, Linas only reference is Siham, her aunts maid, 18 years old, likes to toy with men and is full of secrets. The world of the adult people Lina learns about is as sensual as prosaic, and contains as much frustration as joy. The carefully chosen soundtrack (as is the case of all her films) including hits from the time by Blondie o Bonnie M.

Nous (France, 2005)

"My father was dying. I shot him to keep some evidence. I was afraid to lose everything I thought about him, all my anger against him, all my memories.


Aux Frontieres (France / Begium2002)

A trip along the border which keeps Israel away from its neighbours: Jordan, Lebanon, Siria and Egypt. Danielle Arbid never crosses it, she stays right at the point where soldiers of both sides watch each other, armed to their teeth. She stays there to wait for the Palestinian refugees who cross it and to hear them tell their stories.

Raddem (Demolition) (France 1998).

Ten years after leaving Lebanon, Danielle Arbid goes back home in 1997 and shoots her first story. A girl goes back to Beirut and tries to find the photographer who portrayed her family house. She only knew it in ruins.


Un homme perdu (France 2007)

Premiered at the Directors Fortnight at Cannes, a vision on male desire, the need to enjoy and love with no restraints or patience. A photographer in constant search of the most shocking images of the world (a character based on the reporter Antoine d'Agata, scriptwriter of the film) travel through Lebanon and Jordan in the company of a strange character, amnesic and homeless, who he takes under his wing. Tumbling along, trying to make the man remember, getting to know each other, loving and hating each other to the same extent, the journey will offer some rest in dinghy hotels, motels and brothels.