At the beginning of 2020, Black Movie was one of the last film festivals to take place face-to-face. And this year, he is one of the first to have to resolve to bring his 22nd edition virtually to life, which features 41 feature films and 43 short films from 48 countries, 56 of which can be streamed Swiss premiere. As the Solothurn Film Festival also takes place online this year, film buffs can – pending the reopening of theaters – experience two festivals simultaneously from their living room.
One of the strengths of Black Movie is its unwavering loyalty to authors ignored by major distribution channels. The Geneva event, for example, regularly gives us news of the Korean Hong Sang-soo, a regular at festivals who, despite a double presence on the Locarnais prize list – Best Director Award in 2013 for Sunhi and Golden Leopard two years later with A day with, a day without –, remains little shown in Switzerland.
A year ago, it was in Berlin that his cinema of intimacy and marivaudage, which sometimes earned him comparison to Eric Rohmer, was hailed by a Silver Bear for best director for The Woman Who Got Away. A film that we can now finally discover thanks to Black Movie.
This woman who ran away is Gam-hee, played by Kim Min-hee who, since her professional and romantic encounter with Hong Sang-soo in 2015, has already filmed seven times under her direction. Taking advantage of her husband’s business trip, Gam-hee sets off to meet three friends living in three remote neighborhoods of Seoul; in five years of common life, it is the first time that she has been separated from her husband, for whom life as a couple must be close. Over the course of his three successive meetings, banal conversations will develop, ranging from vegetarianism to life as a couple.
On Hong Sang-soo:
Modest budgets, fast shootings, static shots, sequences shot in continuity and seeming partly improvised: the method that Hong Sang-soo has developed allows him to chain feature films. His filmography therefore resembles a large book, a kind of human chamber comedy in which each film would be like a chapter. Even if he has always written beautiful female characters, he confirms with The Woman Who Got Away his pregnant desire – should this be seen as a Kim Min-hee effect? – to turn away from stories dictated solely by the gaze of male characters.
His cinema is that of the intimate, but also of life: the three encounters around which the film revolves are like small skylights opening onto a daily life which, beyond the cinematographic device, tends towards a certain form of verism .
Resuming the form it would have had in a normal world, Black Movie declines its various sections online – “Nocturama” on genre cinema, “La Femme à lacamera” to highlight the many female directors selected or even “Silence , we turn!” with films talking about cinema. This Friday evening, the opening ceremony of the festival will be broadcast live. And alongside the broadcasts, the festival will also offer video clips to bring its content to life. The choice was also made to respect schedules, as in a room: the films are scheduled over several sessions at specific times, with viewing windows of four hours.
Black Movie 2020:
But what to see? If the choice is vast, we could nevertheless mention Red Post on Escher Street, by the prolific Japanese Sono Sion, a hair-raising feminist comedy in which we come across a young director who is a bit lost, a producer who is more focused on money than on art, unleashed extras… and mafiosos. On the other side of the world, Teboho Edkins recounts in Days of Cannibalism how Chinese investments will upset the delicate balance of a region of Lesotho.
Discovered in 2016 in Locarno with El Remolinoselected by Critics’ Week, documentary filmmaker Laura Herrero Garvín is interested in The Mamito Mexican cabaret dancers, while Santiago Esteinou leans into Los anos de Fierro about the fate of Cesar Fierro, who spent more than forty years on death row in a US penitentiary for a crime he has always denied. While Donald Trump distinguished himself by multiplying executions at the end of his mandate, Cesar Fierro was finally released last October.
Black Movie, from January 22 to 31. Online at online.blackmovie.ch