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ArteKino returns for another hot European December!

Europe's favourite online film festival returns this month with 12 incredibly diverse European movies for you to watch entirely for free, and help keep you warm in the first month of winter!

We are delight to announce that the sixth edition of the ArteKino Festival will take place throughout the month of December, from the very first day of the month until the very last day of the year. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy the 12 films carefully selected exclusively for you. This is the fifth year that DMovies has teamed up with ArteKino in order to promote and bring to you 12 dirty gems of European cinema (up from 10 film in the previous years).

The online Festival is aimed at cinephiles from all over Europe who are seeking original, innovative and thought-provoking European productions. You can watch films on ArteKino’s dedicated website and also on ArteKino iOS and Android app (developed in conjunction with Festival Scope). Subtitles are available in various different languages.

ArteKino is supported of the Creative Europe Media Programme of the European Union. Below is a list of the 2020 selection, listed alphabetically. Click on the film title in order to accede to our exclusive review in here in order to accede to the ArteKino portal and watch your favourite European movies right now!

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1. Call Me Marianna (Karolina Bielawska, 2016):

Karolina Bielawska’s first feature-length documentary, Call Me Marianna, delves into the life of a middle-aged and attractive woman who previously used to be a man. This is not a regular story of a transsexual but rather one about loneliness, hope, and the price one has to pay for being ‘different’. What we see early on in the film is that Marianna lives alone with her cat and is confined to a wheelchair, and working on a theatre play with two actors.

Alienated by her mother who still calls her by her male name, even Marianna’s ex-wife and children have distanced themselves from her. Polish law requires Marianna to sue her parents in order to undergo gender reassignment, and so she begins the legal battle of self-determination.

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2. Inner Wars (Masha Kondakova, 2020):

As Inner Wars reminds us in its final post-script, Ukraine has been at war with pro-Russian separatists since 2014. It is a war without end, without resolution and without many resources; occurring in a far corner of Europe that is easy for people in the West to forget about. The Donbass region has experienced endless death, squalor and misery, with at least 13,000 people dead.

Many images of this war paint it as a male endeavour – think the unforgettably bleak images of Sergey Loznitsa’s Donbass (2018) – but hundreds of women have also made their way to the front lines. Once there, they face two enemies: the pro-Russian separatists and the patriarchal structure of the Ukrainian army.

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3. Jiyan (Süheyla Schwenk, 2021):

This quietly moving drama from Swedish/Turkish director Süheyla Shwenk follows Hayat (Halima Ilter), a pregnant woman who moves to Berlin from Syria with her husband Harun (Baran Sükrü Babacan). The film finds the two struggling with their new life as Hayat’s horrific past rears its head.

Jiyan is at its best when it deals with Hayat’s background. Schwenk wisely employs a show-don’t-tell approach to the horror she witnessed by opening with a found footage explosion and then continuing to reveal brief flashbacks throughout the narrative. We experience Hayat’s nightmares as she does – sparsely and suddenly. It is clear that these events haunt her but they do not require expository explanation. Her past is always conspicuous despite the present setting.

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4. The Last to See Them (Sara Summa, 2019):

There is a sense of deja vu. Indeed, it feels like a giallo piece, a genre of cinema popularised in the ’70s that married the more ponderous elements of detective fiction with the out and out scares of horror. And it’s quickly established that this film will be both, as the opening credits tell audiences that the parents of the Durati children were found murdered. What follows is a gripping tale that attempts to piece together an answer, but for all the prolonged silhouettes and chilling moments of introspection, the film never loses focus on the family themselves.

Indeed, many of the film’s more touching moments centre on the family themselves . Cooking pasta for dinner, they wonder how much sugar is needed for their food. Then there’s Mateo Durati (Pasquale Lioi) who masquerades like the adolescent he is, aching for escapism beyond the prism of the windows of his house. Then there’s the mother, waking from her troubled sleep to bathe in the crisp Italian air. If it reads like a Michael Apted documentary, then you’re not far off.

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5. Nocturnal (Nathalie Biancheri, 2019):

Happiness doesn’t appear to belong in the coastal town of director Nathalie Biancheri’s British début feature Nocturnal, originally released in 2019 and playing the 2021 edition of the ArteKino Festival. Set in Yorkshire, Painter and decorator Pete (Cosmo Jarvis) scrapes by, an isolated figure outside of his doomed relationship with Suzanne (Amy Griffiths) and casual hook-ups. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old track athlete Laurie (Lauren Coe), who has moved from Dublin struggles to fit in. Neither Pete nor Laurie have any power or influence, so it’s unsurprising that their paths should cross. Their combined status is akin to the conventional sombre tones of marginalised figures, lending the story a distinct British air.

Difficult to find a level of comfort, Nocturnal is a film tailored to appreciation instead of entertainment. Biancheri, like other British directors, including Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, understands that it’s not the directors place to entertain their audience, but to provoke their interest. She achieves this in phases – first the fear of where their relationship could lead, before a revelatory moment firmly decides the story’s intent.

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6. LOMO – The Language of Many Others (Julia Langhof, 2018):

Although teenage films were all the rage in the ’80s, it’s hard to find a genuine dissertation of angst amongst the films produced in the 21st century. Lomo changes all that, presenting a probing depiction of alienation, as Karl (Jonas Dassler) demonstrates rebellion through an online blog that gives the film its name. His parents don’t understand it – why should they? – and he finds himself lost in a world of suburban gateways and school exams. He’s withdrawn (he could be read as a possible Asperger’s candidate), but seems largely likeable, although the film shows a predilection for vengeance, not least when he leaks a sex tape of a fellow student on his blog.

Filmed in 2017, the film seems more prescient than ever, considering how detailed the loneliness feels, and just how frustrating it must be for this central character trapped in an eternal bubble of ennui. It all comes together in one telling scene, as Karl sits between his parents at a dinner table, their eyes focused on the bottle of wine that stands as a metaphor for their depleting relationship.

The image at the top of this article is a still from LOMO.

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7. Oasis (Ivan Ikić, 2020):

Get prepared for probing essay about overcoming disability to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Filmed in Serbia, it shows three unlikely characters coming to terms with their feelings for one another. Oasis demonstrates a fondness for the little victories that can occur should our hearts be open to them.

Serbian director Ivan Ikić focuses on real-life patients, each of them living in a building for people with various disabilities. No, it’s not breaking any new ground, but there’s something strangely poetic about the film, as actors/patients peer into windows, locked in their own thoughts and imagination. It takes great courage to spend so much time inside one building (Covid has made this too great a reality for everyone in Britain), but the patients show great restraint, and take up hobbies that help the day pass quicker.

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8. Petit Samedi (Paloma Sermon-Daï, 2021):

Sons have been arguing with their mothers since the beginning of time, but Paloma Sermon-Daï’s documentary shows an argument that holds greater pathos than you might think. Damien Samedi (of the film title) is asked what he would do if his mother were to die. He refuses to answer her question, which leads his mother Ysma to tell him his reticence will give her cancer. Thus the camera projects his worried face, as he comes to realise a boy’s worst fear, that his first teacher and most reliable companion may not answer him the next time he calls.

But Damien isn’t like most other boys-au contraire, he’s a 43-year-old man battling addiction. Unable to face reality, he locks himself away from the world, with only the prospect of his mother’s appearance to comfort him. In his mother, he has a best friend and a worst enemy, someone to pick him up, but there to tell him the hard truths. Like many people on this planet, he struggles to bring his internal reality outside his front gates, yet the film showcases his loneliness with gentle lyricism and infinite respect.

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9. Sami, Joe and I (Karin Heberlein):

The “I” in the title refers to Leyla, one of three friends who have finished school, and are ready to seize their first summer of freedom. Director Karin Heberlein’s Swiss coming-of-age drama, Sami, Joe and I (Sami Joe Und Ich), opens with the evocative words of Leyla’s late mother: “Always keep more dreams in your soul than reality can destroy.” This sentiment haunts the story, as Sami (Anja Gada), Joe (Rabea Lüthi) and Leyla (Jana Sekulovska) become deflated by harsh reality.

It’s Heberlein’s intent to show the difficulties of young adulthood, that contrasts to the hopeful enthusiasm of her characters. The trio are filled with naïve and abstract notions about the future, as they should be. There is a time to dream, to feel empowered, and the prospect of escaping institutional control fuels such hopes. The director however, is not narrow-minded, and she does not lose herself in the romanticisation of youth.

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10. Uppercase Print (Radu Jude):

Two films in one. In the former, we learn of Romanian Mugur Călinescu, who, upon listening to messages from Radio Free Europe in 1981, writes pro-democracy messages on walls in chalk. In the second, Radu Jude presents archival footage from the time. The propaganda scenes, however staged, are exciting and filled with life; the reality, however true, is artificially staged and alienating. They form a curious dialectic: Romania as it really was, and Romania as it presented itself on television.

It starts with a quote by Michel Foucault: “the resonance I feel when I happen to encounter these small lives, reduced to ashes in the few sentences that struck them down.” Starting mid-sentence, it is typical for the Romanian director, who likes to present things to you piecemeal, expecting the viewer to fill in their own details.

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11. When the Trees Fall (Marysia Nikitiuk, 2021):

Part gritty, part fairytale, When The Trees Fall is a promising feature debut from director Marysia Nikitiuk. It centres on Larysa (Anastasiya Pustovit) and her little cousin Vitka (Sofia Halaimova), both of whom live with their grandmother following the death of Larysa’s father. Larysa is madly in love with troublesome heartthrob Scar (Maksym Samchyk), but their relationship is tested when his life of crime intensifies.

Right from the opening sequence When The Trees Fall reveals its greatest strength – the cinematography by Michel Englert and Mateusz Wichlacz. The opening vistas are sublime, and they continue to be throughout – the forest surrounding Larysa’s village looks fantastical without the need for visual effects. Much like Picnic At Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975), the rural landscape feels like an enchanting force. Low-budget films tend to struggle the more visually ambitious they are, but When The Trees Fall impressively avoids this for most of its runtime.

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12. Wood and Water (Jonas Bak, 2021):

Director Jonas Bak’s German drama Wood and Water is either blessed or cursed by its stoicism. I say either because this is a particular type of film for a particular cinematic taste. Executed with patience, the director’s observational camera is as interested in the spatial as it is observing its character. The most effective description of Wood and Water may be as an amalgamation of art, story and character, however, its backbone is more plot than it is story.

As one chapter closes, another opens for Anke (Anke Bak), as she begins her retirement. Bak wastes no time in establishing the observational aesthetic that will drive his film, watching from a distance Anke pray, then depart the church where she’s worked as an administrator. She cycles home, the camera watching from its birds eye view as she disappears into the distance, among the rooftops of rural German homes.


By DMovies' team - 30-11-2021

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