IFFR at the summer festivals

02 August 2023

Film still: La práctica


IFFR at the summer festivals

02 August 2023

With Cannes, Karlovy Vary and Durban now behind us, the summer’s international festivals keep coming with Locarno, Venice, Sarajevo, TIFF and San Sebastián. Films supported by our Hubert Bals Fund or presented at CineMart are premiering, and members of the team are visiting. Read on for all the details.

Karlovy Vary (June 30 – July 8)

Congratulations to Saurav Rai and the whole team behind Guras, which picked up the special jury prize in the Proxima Competition at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic. The film takes its name from the lead protagonist, the nine-year-old Guras, whose dog goes missing in a Darjeeling mountain village. The Hubert Bals Fund supported the project with development funds. 

Polish filmmaker Olga Chajdas also premiered her CineMart-presented film Imago, set in the Tricity area on the Baltic coast of Poland in the revolutionary, post-punk, late 1980s. 

Durban (July 20 – July 30)

South Africa’s longest-running film festival screened a number of IFFR 2023 titles this edition, including two IFFR award-winners from the continent Le spectre de Boko Haram and What the Soil Remembers. Lila Avilés earned the Best Director award for her HBF-backed film Tótem, a choral film about life and grief, starring the seven-year-old Sol.  

Locarno (August 2–12)

Different groups of friends wander in a dark, rainy and windy world in Argentine filmmaker Eduardo Williams's latest, El auge del humano 3, which screens in the Concorso internazionale, the festival’s main competition. "A connection of usually unrelated countries and people", says Williams in his director's note. "We follow them in a way that might make us feel human, machines and aliens." The film was supported by the HBF for development.

Presented at CineMart, Ukrainian filmmaker Maryna Vroda’s feature debut, Stepne, also screens in the main competition. “Stepne is an elegiac tale with silence as one of the main characters”, Vroda told Variety. “It’s the stillness that covers the endless Ukrainian steppes and echoes in the sounds of the past generations”.

The Concorso Cineasti del presente offers a selection of first and second feature films directed by emerging global talents. Dominic Sangma’s second feature, Rapture, has its world premiere in the section, imbued with superstition, fear and the impending threat of an apocalyptic darkness in a small village in the north-east of India. The film was HBF-supported and took part in the BoostNL development programme.

Excursion is the feature debut of Bosnian filmmaker Una Gunjak and also screens in the section. A teenager seeking validation reveals that she had sex for the first time during a game of 'truth or dare'. Her class is preparing for the excursion to celebrate the end of primary school and the rumour about her being pregnant puts the whole trip in jeopardy.

Update: The Pardo for Best Director went to Maryna Vroda for Stepne and Excursion by Una Gunjak received a Special Mention!

Sarajevo (August 11–18)

This year, the Bosnian festival presents two titles in its main feature competition which had their world premieres at IFFR: the arresting exploration of 1990s Ukraine La Palisada which won the FIPRESCI Award at the festival earlier this year, and the tiger on the loose drama Tigru

Georgian director Elene Naveriani’s HBF-supported Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry also screens following its Cannes premiere, and Una Gunjak’s Excursion is set for a Gala screening following its Locarno debut. Read more here

Update: Elene Naveriani won the Heart of Sarajevo award for Best Feature Film for Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, with the film's lead Ekaterine Chavleishvili picking up the Best Actress award.

Venice (August 30 – September 9)

Ze is a timid 17-year-old shaman and the lead protagonist of Mongolian director Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir’s feature debut City of Wind, which has its world premiere in the Orizzonti competition. The filmmaker’s shorts have been celebrated, with Mountain Cat winning best short in Busan in 2020, and Snow in September winning best short awards in both Venice and Toronto last year. Her hotly anticipated feature debut was backed by the HBF for development and with both the HBF+Europe and NFF+HBF schemes. The film is a delicate and poetic spiritual journey, seeking to understand what it is to become a shaman in modern Mongolia. 

Also delving into modern spirituality is Belgium-based Colombian filmmaker Juanita Onzaga who premieres her immersive media project Floating with Spirits in the Venice Immersive section, following its presentation at CineMart and the inaugural IFFR Pro Darkroom. The spirits of nature and ancestors surround two little sisters as they prepare for the Day of the Dead in the mystic mountains of Mexico, transporting us into their magical world.

Our festival director Vanja Kaludjercic, managing director Clare Stewart, Head of Press & PR Caterine Baeten, and programmers Delly Shirazi, Leonie Woodfin and Evgeny Gusyatinskiy will be in attendance. For meeting requests, contact:

TIFF (September 7–17)

The Toronto International Film Festival welcomes a number of supported titles for their North American premieres. Cannes favourites Los delincuentes by Rodrigo Moreno, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell by Thien An Pham, and Youth (Spring) by Wang Bing all screen, joined by Locarno title El auge del humano 3 by Eduardo Williams and Venice title The City of Wind by Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir. 

San Sebastián (September 22–30)

From spirituality to yoga comes Argentine filmmaker Martíjn Rejtman’s latest La práctica, which screens in the Official Selection at the Basque festival following backing from the HBF for development and through support from the HBF+Europe scheme. His previous film, Dos disparos, screened at IFFR 2014. In his latest, Rejtman uses his trademark absurdist, bone-dry tragicomic style, this time following a yoga instructor living in Chile and recovering from a break-up and an injury. 

Film still: El auge del humano 3

Film still: City of Wind

Film still: Rapture

Film still: Excursion

Film still: Stepne

Other blog posts on Hubert Bals Fund