Bet won! For its 20th year, the International Festival of Independent Films of Geneva Black Movie had an exceptional influx of 32,000 festival-goers. A remarkable anniversary edition which ends this Sunday evening by rewarding in particular the documentary Of Fathers and Sons, by the Syrian Talal Derki.
From January 18 to 27, the Geneva public was able to enjoy 106 films from 56 countries. Accompanied by some thirty international guests, film-lovers enjoyed a large number of independent fiction, documentary and animated films in the halls of the Grütli, Spoutnik, Cinélux, Arditi and Alhambra cinemas. This year, a virtual room was also inaugurated by the artist Cetusss on the Second Life network. Round tables, conferences and White Nights at the Cercle des Bains met with great success.
The festival had the honor of counting on the presence of Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa, who came to Geneva for the first time to present his documentary Victory Day. Distinguished spectators braved the eight-hour screening of the documentary Dead Souls by Chinese director Wang Bing. Among the most popular films, José by director Li Cheng was able to seduce with the story of an impossible love between two men in Guatemala. Presented as a world premiere, the film Gino and Marie by the Filipino Joselito Altarejos vividly described the birth of a relationship between a young man and a mother on the clandestine shooting of a pornographic film. The documentary Mujer Nómade by Argentinian Martín Farina revealed the extraordinary personality of the philosopher Esther Diaz. Life and Nothing More by Mexican Antonio Méndez Esparza depicted the daily life of a modest North American family on the eve of Donald Trump’s election. Entry point to the retrospective dedicated to the sulphurous Japanese filmmaker Kōji Wakamatsu, the Dare to Stop Us biopic directed by Kazuya Shiraishi captivated packed houses. We should also mention the complete showings of the films Aurora by Kyrgyz Bekzat Pirmatov and A Land Imagined by Singaporean Yeo Siew Hua.
The programming and workshops in the Petit Black Movie section have charmed the youngest film-lovers, in particular the exclusive film-concert by composer Nathanaël Bergèse on the animated feature film The Tower by Norwegian Mats Grorud.
The 2019 winners
The Critics’ Prize, endowed with CHF 5,000 by the Department of Culture and Sport of the City of Geneva, was unanimously awarded to the documentary Of Fathers and Sons, by Syrian director Talal Derki. For the International Critics Jury, the film, shot in immersion in a jihadist family affiliated with Al-Qaeda, stands out for its emotional strength and the unique perspective it offers on the situation in northern Syria. He also notes the courage of the filmmaker, who risked his life by posing as a sympathizer of the Islamist caliphate in order to bring back a dizzying testimony of the daily life of this family.
The Jury was composed of Cecilia Ermini (Italy), Tereza Fischer (Switzerland), Nicolas Gilson (Belgium), Akua Gyamfi (Great Britain) and Mike Naafs (Netherlands).
The Youth Prize, worth CHF 1,000.- endowed by the Department of Social Cohesion and Solidarity of the City of Geneva, awarded by a jury whose members are secondary II students, is also awarded to Of Fathers and Sons by Talal Derki. The youth jury evokes a shock film, and for its part notes the striking contrast between a father’s love for his children and the constant call for violence. It gives an honorable mention to the film Life and Nothing More, directed by Antonio Méndez Esparza, for its theme, direction and aesthetics.
The Payot Petit Black Movie Prize, worth CHF 1,000.-, goes to the film Birdlime by Canadian Evan DeRushie. The jury composed of Mirjana Farkas, Oana Lacroix and Nicolas Rabaeus salutes a film with a surprising and creative direction, in which the relationship between man and nature is treated in a fine and balanced way, with a critical point of view and yet open and positive.
Finally, the Children’s Prize, awarded by a jury of children aged 7 to 9, was awarded to the animated short film Pearfall by Russian director Leonid Shmelkov.
The Black Movie Festival will return for a 21st edition from January 17 to 26, 2020.
[Source : Communiqué de presse]