The Transylvania Weekly / mai 2008
Festivalul TIFF 2008
Ten days, 200 movies, Cluj-Napoca, TIFF 007 in 2008. It's happening right now! Today Cluj's cinematographic "Bermuda Triangle" appears again between the poles of Arta, Republica and Victoria, movie theatres hosting screenings for the Transylvania International Film Festival

Top of the bill for the seventh TIFF edition, we can find a series of movies that have already come to the eyes of the beholders craving movie festivals.

The 2007 U.S.A. version of Michael's Haneke Funny Games marks the festival's opening. Ten years before, in 1997, the Austrian version of Funny Games constituted the shooting bolt in Cannes. Haneke's fictional thread envisions two youngsters abusing a family just for the laughs (violence though is not explicit throughout the pellicle). Through a certain trick deserving to be let unmentioned here - you just got to be in the movie theatre to understand! - Haneke makes clear to the spectator the he or she has fallen pray to a cinematic trap being the subjected to manipulation. Although the spectator realizes that what is displayed is a fiction, he or she will still empathize with the victims on the screen. In this way Funny Games is a cat and mouse game in which the mouse is rather the spectator. The movie invites us to think twice about the power cinema has on ourselves and about the distribution of the roles of reality and fiction in our lives especially after the intervention of cinema. This re-release of the movie fills in to the detail the Austrian movie with American actors (Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, and Michael Pitt). Its importance is topological: the movie has to be set in relation with the cinematographic space where it got re-edited - Hollywood, the dream factory, - with obvious critical intentions.

Another mandatory cinematographic pit-stop is the feature film marking the debut of Anton Corbijn, a famous photographer and music video director, having worked with Nick Cave, Nirvana, U2, Metallica and above all, Depeche Mode. In Control, Corbjin mirrors the life of Ian Curtis, soloist of Joy Division (one of the forerunners of the punk-rock genres) rendering at the same time the respect and admiration nurtured only by a true fan. Filmed in black and white, fluid, thorough and delicate at the same time, Control sights the life of a rock star set into another dimension, where the rocker is not high on LSD, DMT, DOM or MDMA, but... on love!

An unhackneyed biopic present in the festival's agenda is Todd Haynes' I'm Not There. The motion picture is inspired by the life and work of Bob Dylan staged in an uncanny manner: the real personality of Dylan is dissected, the features of his personality being impersonated by no less than six characters (this led me to defining it as a conceptual biography). What we are shown on the screen are virtual facets of an initial model, each of these personas being casted to a different performer - Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin and Cate Blanchett.

Paranoid Park is got to be another to do on your checklist for TIFF 2008. Gus Van Sant's creation (an author awarded the Palme d'Or in 2003, for Elephant), is a movie unfolding with a swirl within a teenager involved in a terrible accident conscience. The long-drawn-out motion picture focus on Alex's reactions to such an extent that it consequently gives the impression that the screen doesn't display occurrences exterior to the young man's life, revealing instead, the dynamic of his thoughts in relation to his experience.

A non-conformist incidence in TIFF's movie theatres is Import/Export, signed by the Austrian Ulrich Seidl. With a naturalist, semi-documentary style, Ulrich Seidl pursues the transit of two characters developing two opposite directions. In search of a better living, a hospital nurse lets Ukraine behind for Austria where she is forced to drop the plans of working as a caretaker in a retirement home for becoming an online adult entertainer. Unable to find suitable work, a young security agent travels from Austria to Eastern Europe accompanied by his stepfather. He starts delivering video games machines and spends all the earnings on alcohol and sex. The mortification of the Other, (s)exploitation, local atmosphere and the lack of social perspective constitute the focus of the movie.

Their participation in different film festivals and the positive feedback they received, not to mention the names at the end of the movie recommend wholeheartedly several other films in this year's TIFF program: Delta, directed by Kornel Mundruczo and shot in the Danube Delta was a clear contender this year at Cannes and it pulled off a FIPRESCI prize; Shine a Light, the documentary about the Rolling Stones, a Martin Scorsese conception; Lou Reed's Berlin, a documentary signed by Julian Schnabel (an important contemporary director and painter, with a Cannes Best Director award in 2007 for Le scaphandre et le papillon); Aleksandr Sokurov's Russian Ark , a movie shot in real time; The Elite Squad, under the direction of Jose Padilha, awarded the Golden Bear in Berlin this year; and last but not least, Boogie, the most recent creation signed Radu Muntean; Boogie premiered this may at Cannes Film Festival.

This year's competition looks promising, too, with movies like La Zona, directed by Rodrigo Pla, already awarded distinctions in Venice and Toronto, Autumn Ball an Estonian movie directed by Veiko Ounpuu, award winner in Venice, Salonika and Bratislava, Lake Tahoe under the skilful direction of Fernando Eimbcke, winner of FIPRESCI prize in Berlin, Go in Peace Jamil, a motion picture signed by Omar Shargawi, winner at Rotterdam this year, Tale 52 directed by Alexis Alexiou, also presented at Rotterdam, as well as I Always Wanted to Be a Gangster, director Samuel Benchetrit, a movie entering the competition at Sundance.

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