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Our programmers curate four main sections. Each of them has a unique feel and tone. Explore them.
Our main competitions and tomorrow’s film talent
Celebrating great storytelling and bold cinema
Retrospectives, film art and an in-depth look at filmmaking
Explore the theme programmes of this year’s edition
AlvaIco Costa IFFR 2019 98′
After his children are taken away by social services, a troubled loner seeks revenge and flees into the inhospitable forest.
Driven by uncontrollable fury, a taciturn Portuguese farmer commits a crime then flees into the inhospitable hills. With its intense, sober, elliptical narrative style, this feature debut by award-winning short filmmaker Ico Costa is mysterious and relentless, but at the same time empathetic and human.
Aren't You Happy?Susanne Heinrich IFFR 2019 80′
Fourteen absurd encounters of a melancholy girl with the surrounding world in this post-modern comedy filled with pastel and neon lights.
The melancholy girl roams like a tourist through her own life; 14 chapters show her attempts to bond with the people around her. The result: an equally fairy-tale and absurd world – from aerobics with babies to rides on a unicorn, nothing is too crazy in this post-modern comedy.
Black MotherKhalik Allah IFFR 2019 77′
Life’s key elements come together in this visual film symphony and ode to today's colourful Jamaica.
Life’s key elements come together in the colourful Jamaica portrayed by Khalik Allah. In this polyphonic film symphony, every inhabitant views their island paradise differently, be they prostitutes, graybeards, rappers, Rastafarians or pregnant women.
Chèche laviSam Ellison IFFR 2019 76′
An honest portrait of two young Haitian immigrants on the brink of a dream future in the USA.
An honest, subtle portrait of two Haitian refugees who tell their stories on the US border. One toils to earn money, the other just to get admitted. Disappointment and resignation overcome them in turns. Where they are really better off is left unsaid.
Core of the WorldNatalya Meshchaninova IFFR 2019 124′
Compassion and rage are not far apart in the life of a troubled vet in the remote Russian countryside.
Young veterinarian Egor finds escape from his troubled past on the remote Russian farm where he cares for animals. One day, animal-rights activists turn up and Egor's micro-world is in danger of crumbling. A tender, naturalistic portrait of a man torn between compassion and rage – and between humans and animals.
The Day I Lost My ShadowSoudade Kaadan IFFR 2019 95′
A young Syrian mother’s search for bottled gas ends in a panic-stricken journey. Awarded Best Debut in Venice.
At the start of the war in Syria, young pharmacist Sana tries to buy some bottled gas, but her search quickly gets out of hand. Sana’s panic-stricken journey is told with striking hyper-realism and an excursion into magic realism. Winner of the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Debut in Venice.
De nuevo otra vezRomina Paula IFFR 2019 84′
A delicate self-portrait about aging, maternity and sexuality. Romina Paula fictionalises reality and explores being a daughter and new mother.
How do you remain an individual if you also have to fulfil roles as mother, wife and daughter? Where do you find time for yourself, alongside the dizzying love for your child? Honest, intriguing debut by the actress Romina Paula, as she takes an affectionate look at the relationship with her mother and her son.
Dead Horse NebulaTarık Aktaş IFFR 2019 73′
A dead horse; a childhood memory; the Turkish countryside; a nebula. Guileless realism as a prelude to life’s mystery.
Not much story, but plenty of unmistakable gut feeling in this depiction of the life of a young man in a Turkish village. A shocking childhood memory and an evening fire prompt an increasingly spiritual line connecting humanity and nature. Best Emerging Director in Locarno.
Dog DaysTimmy Harn IFFR 2019 124′
Filipino sports film, melodrama and nightmare about a fallen basketball prospect, shot in glorious black-and-white and starring a Mitsubishi Galant.
Crystal meth and blood magic mix in this intoxicating underground basketball drama. Michael Jordan Ulili is a Filipino basketball prospect destined for greatness, but his social class, racist teammates and bad knee try to block him from reaching the heights of his blood-fated capabilities. When hoop dream becomes fever dream, will he hit the winner?
DomainsKusano Natsuka IFFR 2019 150′
Drifting apart as adult women, childhood friends Aki and Nodoka's story is told through line-readings, whose structures reveal the complications of friendship.
Aki and Nodoka are childhood friends who are drifting apart as adults. The familiar plot is told in an unexpected way: through actors line-readings. The suffocation of role patterns in friendship and family are conveyed through repeated lines that are occasionally dislodged to show that life can take unexpected turns.
DoozyRichard Squires IFFR 2019 70′
The animated story of Paul Lynde, the flamboyant voice actor behind many Hanna-Barbera cartoon villains from the 1960s and 1970s.
For years, actor/comedian Paul Lynde voiced many of Hanna-Barbera’s hysterically laughing, campy cartoon villains. But where does the character end and the actor start? Refreshing look at animation, focusing on voices and laughs instead of the drawing style.
DreissigSimona Kostova IFFR 2019 120′
Twenty-four hours in the lives of a group of colourful Berliners in their late twenties/early thirties, oscillating between a carefree existence and emptiness.
Twenty-four hours in the lives of a colourful group of friends in Berlin, filmed in their natural habitat of minimalist apartments, with the constant lure of the nightlife. Searching for meaning in life between everyday trials and life’s big questions. Are you reaching your sell-by date when you hit 30?
End of SeasonElmar Imanov IFFR 2019 92′
An Azerbaijani family’s father, mother and son all desire freedom; or have they in fact become alienated from one another?
Three members of an Azerbaijani family long for freedom. 18-year-old Machmud wants his own home; mother Fidan wants her life back after years of service to the family; father Samir just wants to be left alone. However, freedom can also hide incomprehension and alienation. An astute family drama.
Enquanto estamos aquiClarissa Campolina, Luiz Pretti IFFR 2019 75′
Poetic, fictionalised film diary about globalisation and migration, brought back to the essence of human micro-politics: desire, fear and hope.
Two lives cross paths in New York City: the Lebanese Lamis is a newcomer, while the Brazilian woman Wilson has been living there illegally for 10 years. Using images of New York, Brazil and Berlin, globalisation and migration is reduced from the macro-political scale to its human essence: desire, intimacy, hope and fear.
FabianaBrunna Laboissière IFFR 2019 89′
As she approaches retirement, a transgender truck driver looks back on her life on the road, with a different sweetheart in every town.
Documentary road movie in which Fabiana, a transgender Brazilian truck driver nearing retirement, has to come to terms with a less peripatetic life in the future. After one last journey, this self-assured trucker must exchange her life of adventure, old friends and easy-going lovers on the road for a new, bourgeois life.
The Garden ApartmentIshihara Umi IFFR 2019 77′
Artist and photographer UMMMI soaks the frame with melancholia as her characters drive into the night with no destination in sight.
Artist and photographer Ishihara Umi, also know as UMMMI, soaks the frame with melancholia as her characters drive into the night with no destination in sight for her effortlessly cool debut feature that explores the limbo state of becoming an adult.
The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred MountainRidham Janve IFFR 2019 97′
A greedy shepherd searches a holy mountain in the Himalayas for a crashed plane, but is punished for his impure intentions.
An old shepherd in the Himalayas goes looking for a crashed plane in the hope of finding gold. The place of the accident is, however, a holy mountain and his impure intentions do not go unpunished. His herd falls prey to predators, and he is beset by delusions, doubts and fear.
HeroesKöken Ergun IFFR 2019 88′
The commemorations in Gallipoli of one of the First World War’s biggest battles elicit nationalism on both sides.
Video artist Köken Ergun spent two years among the droves of tourists, both Turkish and Australian, that gather in Gallipoli to commemorate the soldiers who died there during one of the First World War’s biggest battles. ‘Heroes’ to some, ‘martyrs’ to others.
Historia de mi nombreKarin Cuyul IFFR 2019 78′
Documentary maker Karin Cuyul searches for the origin of her name, uncovering painful memories of Chile’s recent past.
Chilean documentary maker Karin Cuyul searches for the origin of her name. Her parents named her after Karin Eitel, who in the 1980s was tortured on public television by Pinochet’s secret police. During her travels, Cuyul is given a very personal reminder of a painful page in Chile’s history.
House of My FathersSuba Sivakumaran IFFR 2019 95′
Magic-realist fairy tale about the Sri Lankan civil war captures the fear and trauma with its poetic, acerbic tone.
The conflict between two villages symbolises the civil war in Sri Lanka, which ended in 2009. A man and a woman from each camp are sacrificed to lift a fertility curse. The fears and traumas of the war lurk in the woods. A highly relevant magic realist fairy tale with an acerbic undertone.
IFFR x WPPR: Khalik AllahIFFR 2019
Photographer, cameraman and director Khalik Allah discusses his approach, which he describes himself as 'Camera Ministry'. As a photographer, he portrays the nightlife in New York’s Harlem; as a filmmaker, he won with Black Mother the Yellow Robin Award at the last IFFR Curaçao. In cooperation with World Press Photo Rotterdam.
Introduzione all'oscuroGastón Solnicki IFFR 2019 71′
A personal, cinematic gesture born of sadness over the death of a friend. It's also a unique guide to Viennese culture.
Mourning the sudden death of Viennale festival director Hans Hurch, Argentinian filmmaker Solnicki (Papirosen, Kékszakállú) decided to make a film of his good and at times eccentric friend. The result is a loving, idiosyncratic tour of Hurch's cosmopolitan Vienna and, naturally, an ode to culture.
Last Night I Saw You SmilingKavich Neang IFFR 2019 75′
Kavich Neang documents the final days of the White Building in Phnom Penh, an architectural landmark he had lived in since birth.
Filmmaker Kavich Neang grew up in the White Building, a famous apartment complex in Phnom Penh. Now demolition forces the inhabitants, including his parents, to leave. It was also evacuated under the Khmer Rouge, someone remarks. These are days filled with worries, emotions and memories. A sad love song expresses their feelings.
The LoadOgnjen Glavonić IFFR 2019 98′
During the NATO bombardments of 1999, a truck driver has to take a mysterious load to Belgrade. Subtle narrative bursting with menace.
During the NATO bombardments of 1999, truck driver Vlada has to take a mysterious load to Belgrade. Subtle storytelling with an ever-present sense of threat about the moral collapse of an ordinary man just trying to get by. Culminating in a powerful revelation. His load becomes his burden.
Long Day's Journey Into NightBi Gan IFFR 2019 140′
Past and present intertwine in this visually stunning, partially 3D second film by Chinese talent Bi Gan.
Young Chinese director Bi Gan’s second film lives up to the standard set by his debut, Kaili Blues. He uses every cinematic technique in the book for his dream-like tale of Luo Hongwu's search for a past lover, which seamlessly merges with the summer they spent together 20 years ago.
Lost HolidayMichael Kerry Matthews, Thomas Matthews IFFR 2019 75′
In this road movie Margaret Rockland prefers drink, drugs and an absurd kidnapping to Christmas depression.
Margaret Rockland combats a depressing Christmas reunion with a booze and snorting bonanza lasting days. En route, she becomes involved in a bizarre kidnapping affair. What follows is a road movie through the vacant suburbs of Washington DC and a past that won’t let Margaret out of its clutches.
MaggieYi Okseop IFFR 2019 88′
A mysterious X-ray of a couple making love leads to an enervating, alienating search for trust and truth.
Who are the intimate couple in a mysterious X-ray? A nurse accuses herself and her boyfriend, after which the South Korean Maggie becomes an episodic tale of confidence and faith. A refreshing, confounding, idiosyncratic debut, including a talking catfish and sinkholes that can swallow up three vans.
The Man Who Surprised EveryoneNatasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov IFFR 2019 105′
A terminally ill forest ranger wants to live his final months as a woman. In a remote Siberian community he pays dearly.
Contemporary version of a Siberian folk tale in which a man cheats Death by pretending to be a woman. A terminally ill Siberian forest ranger decides to live out his life as a woman. He is shunned by his small village community. How vulnerable is our position in society?
Manta RayPhuttiphong Aroonpheng IFFR 2019 110′
In mysterious coastal woodlands where the souls of deceased refugees wander like will-o'-the-wisps, a Thai fisherman cares for a wounded man.
Many Rohingya who flee Myanmar suffer untimely deaths along Thailand’s coast. A Thai fisherman cares for a wounded man he finds in a coastal woodland where secretive things occur. Reality and magic, poetry and an exceptional friendship in this story with a grim, moving undertone.
MensIsabelle Prim IFFR 2019 97′
Among his deceased grandmother's possessions, Jean finds a report on an almost forgotten murder from 1895.
This is the story of an almost forgotten murder and an almost forgotten love in Mens in the South of France in 1895. The film makes a bow to the awe-inspiring greatness of history and the stories that disappear into it – along with the guilt and penance and pain.
La miséricorde de la jungleJoel Karekezi IFFR 2019 91′
During a very dangerous journey through the Congolese jungle, two lost and traumatised soldiers strike up a friendship.
War hero Xavier and recruit Faustin are cut off from their battalion. Thirst, hunger, malaria and enemy rebels make their journey through the Congolese jungle an agony. But the men learn to appreciate each other, finally finding the mental peace to come to terms with traumatic memories of the Rwandan genocide and Congolese civil war.
No Data PlanMiko Revereza IFFR 2019 70′
Living in the USA illegally for over 20 years, Miko Revereza takes the train from Los Angeles to New York.
Living in the United States illegally for over 20 years, Miko Revereza takes the Amtrak train from Los Angeles to New York in this critical moment of hostility against migrants in the country he has come to know as home. The journey seems daring, perhaps reckless, yet urgent and necessary.