Festival Daily
30 July 2011
Finale - Overview

As the sun sets on the 11th edition of the New Horizons Film Festival, just what have we learned? Well, that Wroclaw is a beautiful place but trying to predict the weather is as futile as telling Lars Von Trier to behave himself. That Nick Cave and Grinderman do indeed rock and that the ringing in the ears will most likely subside sometimes next year. That going to bed at 4am and getting up at 7am to start all over again is a completely normal thing. And that cinema is still one the most diverse art forms in the world, with New Horizons still managing to bring an eclectic set of films that will appeal to audiences of all tastes.

The international competition was a chance to show how filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of traditional cinema. Films such as The Gravedigger was a brilliant and compelling fable that utilised distorted still photographs whilst the superlative Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then was a profound and moving time-lapse animation. Both went beyond traditional notions of narrative cinema but – at their heart – they resonated with audiences because they talked about universal themes of love and loss. Even more obtuse affairs such as You Are Here, a collage like piece concerning identity and self-awareness, were an invitation for audiences to engage with the films they are watching. In a time when the majority of mainstream cinema spoonfeeds its audiences, the fact that people can be confounded and surprised by the art of film is something of a joy and part of the reason why audiences still flock to screenings year after year.

Indeed, many of the films in the Film On Art competition managed to focus upon those filmmakers whose work has been challenging audiences for years. Arirang was a hybrid of confessional and documentary about South Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk who spent years in voluntary exile after an accident on one of his film sets. With an insight into the authorial process alongside a more abstract confrontation of Kim’s past demons, it’s a singular work. More traditional –but no less fascinating – was Free Radicals , a history of experimental cinema that did exactly what a good documentary should do: make you want to discover more.

And then there was Melancholia. Not to mention the retrospectives for Bela Tarr , Terry Gilliam and Bruno Dumont. Oh, and of course the Midnight Movies. Did I get round to mentioning all the music concerts? And industry events? And the cinema of Norway as well.  So much to talk about. And so little time.

In fact “So much to talk about. So little time” should be a tag line for New Horizons. Like all the great film festivals it shows work that will promote debate, encourages the audience to try new things and celebrates all that cinema has to offer.

I am sure there are people looking to book their tickets for next year already. See you there.

Laurence Boyce

Laurence Boyce is a film curator, programmer and journalist working in the UK and Estonia. He contributes to Screen Daily, International Film Guide, Little White Lies, The Baltic Times amongst many others. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceBoyce


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