Starz Denver Film Festival: Day 9

Long live freedom!

Toni Servillo "Viva la Libertà" (2013)

Enrico (Toni Servillo) represents the leftist party in Italy, and no one seems to like him. When he tries to give a speech, a woman yells at him, accusing his of killing the party. Enrico suffers from depression, and he’s just about fed up with it all.

Giovanni (also Toni Servillo) is Enrico’s twin brother, a poet, a philosopher, and possibly insane. When Enrico goes MIA, Giovanni is brought in as a temporary replacement, but possibly more considering that Giovanni doesn’t want to play the game and speaks his mind. His advisors thought it would spell disaster, but the people love him. The depressed Enrico finds a home and a family on a film set and the kooky Giovanni lights the political world one fire. Who could have seen that one coming?

Director and co-writer Roberto Andò constructs his movie with a fare amount of dissolves, reflections, and smooth tracking shots. All of it anchored by two excellent performances from Servillo, one as the mask of tragedy, one as the mask of comedy.

Viva la Libertá depicts the inseparable nature between politics and the absurd. As Andò stated with his introduction, “Camus believed that man needed hope to survive. With this movie, I have made my hope.”

Directed by: Roberto Andò
Written by: Roberto Andò & Angelo Pasquini
Produced by: Angelo Barbagallo
Starring: Toni Servillo, Valerio Mastandrea, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Michela Cescon
Distrib Films, Running time 94 minutes, November 18, 19, 20, 2014

How bad do you want it?

Samuel Finzi & Eva Löbau "Worst Case Scenario" (2014)

Comedies in film festivals are rare sightings. German comedies are rarer still. Quirky Germany Comedies are the unicorns of the film festival world, making Worst Case Scenario a true oddity.

Georg (Samuel Finzi) is a director who spends too much time concerned with Fellini and Antonioni and not enough time with the gold right in front of him. Part of that gold is his ex-girlfriend, now his baby mama, Olga (Eva Löbau). Olga is trying to bring Georg’s vision to light, but a complete and total lack of money, talent and commitment derails any hope they have.

Worst Case Scenario is a story about a movie crew and every possible problem they could encounter trying to get their film off the ground, but really, it is about the vast majority of people who say they want to make a movie more than they really want to. Talk is cheap when desire counts for so much more.

Written & Directed by: Franz Müller
Produced by: Markéta Polednová & Katharina Jakobs
Starring: Eva Löbau, Samuel Finzi, Laura Tonke
Film Boutique, Running time 82 minutes, November 20, 21, 23, 2014

Holy, holy, holy

Lea van Acken & Florian Stetter "Stations of the Cross" (2014)

There are 14 stations to the Passion: Jesus is condemned to death, Jesus carries his cross, Jesus falls for the first time, Jesus meets his mother, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, Jesus falls the second time, Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, Jesus falls the third time, Jesus is stripped of his garments, Jesus is nailed to the cross, Jesus dies on the cross, Jesus is taken down from the cross, and Jesus is laid in the tomb.

From this, German director Dietrich Brüggemann draws his structure to tell the story of Maria (Lea van Acken), a young girl who wants nothing more to live a holy and pious life. Comprised of 14 fixed angle shots, each one a single take corresponding to a station, Maria learns of the sacrifice of the Christ, tries to uphold it, and, eventually, ennobles it.

Shot with a (mostly) static camera, Brüggemann employs austere framing and unadorned acting. Stations of the Cross (Keurweg) is a work of art striving to depict divinity. It almost reaches it. A revelation late in the movie functions as a gut punch, and two camera movements manage to suck the wind out of the viewer. Not something easily reconciled, yet difficult to dismiss.

Directed by: Dietrich Brüggemann
Written by: Anna Brüggemann & Dietrich Brüggemann
Produced by: Leif Alexis & Fabian Maubach
Starring: Lea van Acken, Lucie Aron, Anna Brüggemann, Michael Kamp, Moritz Knapp, Birge Schade, Florian Stetter
Film Movement, Running time 107 minutes, November 16, 20, 21, 2014