Cinema Jove shows on the big screen the transition to adulthood in countries such as Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Ukraine and Kosovo.

In the official section, the festival will show nine films in competition from Turkey, Denmark, Russia, Brazil, Greece, Australia, North Macedonia and Ukraine.

The selection addresses political issues such as illegal immigration in the Bering Strait, Turkish oppression of the Kurdish population and the drift of the Greek bourgeoisie after the economic meltdown.

The Rohrwacher sisters, Denis Lavant, Will Ferrell, Paula Usero and Verónica Echegui are among the prominent faces in the short film section.

The transition to adulthood is an experience common to all human beings, but its conditions vary depending on the corner of the world where it is experienced. ‘Cinema Jove’ captures it this year with a large group of films ascribed to the ‘coming of age’ in its official section of feature films this year.

The València International Film Festival, organized by the Institut Valencià de Cultura, has programmed nine titles from Turkey, Denmark, Russia, Brazil, Greece, Australia, North Macedonia and Ukraine, half of which explore learning and the doubts faced during childhood and adolescence.

Fresh, direct and sensitive, ‘Stop Zemlia’ keeps its gaze glued, at times almost documentary-like, to the lives of a class of high school students facing graduation. Ukrainian Kateryna Gornostai’s first feature film depicts the doubts and longings, desires and intimacies of her protagonists while avoiding clichés. The film has just won the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale.

Kosovar Norika Sefa has also built her film ‘Looking for Venera’ around the adolescent look and problems of her characters. This robust, lively and powerful drama is a reflection on the double standard with which the sexual awakening of women is treated in the still closed environment of the Balkans.

Ferit Karahan sets his second feature, ‘Brother’s Keeper’, in a boarding school in eastern Anatolia. In this isolated environment, the director reflects on the growing authoritarianism of Turkish politics and the repression of the Kurdish population. Built around the gaze of its two protagonists, it combines the harshness of its setting with tenderness to narrate that close bond born in the heat of childhood.

The steps that mark the path of the protagonist of ‘The First Death of Joana’ are, instead, the questioning of gender stereotypes and self-discovery. Brazilian filmmaker Cristiane Oliveira already visited Cinema Jove with her debut feature, ‘Nalu on the Border’, in its 2017 edition. In her opinion and in the context of the rise of the return to traditional values in her country, it is relevant to educate young people about sexuality and gender as expressions of identity.

Also coming from Brazil is ‘Ecstasy’, where Moara Passoni signs a dreamlike and autobiographical project about anorexia. The film, whose soundtrack includes songs by David Lynch and Likke Li, is a ‘coming of age’ between fiction and documentary, recognized with, among other awards, the Brazilian Association of Film Critics at the last São Paulo International Film Festival. Passoni is the co-writer and associate producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘The Edge of Democracy’ (2019).

Finally, in ‘The Whaler Boy’, Russian debutant Philipp Yuryev makes a reflection on the search for love, the transition to the adult world and the difficulties of sentimental learning in a fiction set in a Siberian village specialized in whaling. The only connection of its inhabitants with the city are erotic chat rooms. The film, selected in the Giornate degli Autori competition at the Venice Film Festival, shows illegal immigration to the USA through the Bering Strait.

Also about exodus, but in this case from the city to the countryside, ‘All The Little Pretty Horses’, a Greek family thriller in the wake of the cinema of Roman Polanski and Michael Haneke, with the malaise of the Athens bourgeoisie as a backdrop. Its director, Michalis Konstantatos, gradually generates a sense of growing unease among the audience from a progressively muddied atmosphere that has been considered the Greek answer to ‘Parasites’ (Bong Joon-ho, 2019).

‘The Penultimate’ has instead been compared to the cinema of Roy Andersson. Danish director Jonas Kærup Hjort’s feature debut is a twist on Kafkaesque labyrinths and the theater of playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Eugène Ionesco. With great visual inventiveness and a good dose of black humor, this satire on human existence in times of confinement reflects the meaninglessness of everyday existence.

Completing the selection of feature films competing for the Luna de València this year is the Australian ‘Friends and Strangers’. Between the most blatant irony and emotional detachment, James Vaughan offers his vision of the millennial generation. As if he were a stray character from an Éric Rohmer film, his protagonist remains isolated on the stage of the Australian bourgeois class, lost between his emotional problems and an increasingly palpable sense of emptiness.

Travel around the world in 56 short films

The València International Film Festival has programmed a selection of 56 short films from 25 countries. There are projects from Spain, Egypt, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Sweden, France, Poland, Romania, USA, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Israel, China, Austria, Iran, United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany, Belarus, Greece, Denmark, Brazil and Nigeria.

Many of the works in competition are endorsed by awards received at prestigious festivals such as Cannes and Clermont-Ferrand. ‘I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face’ won the Palme d’Or at the last edition of Cannes. ‘Sestre’, by Katarina Resek, was highlighted with the International Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand 2021, and ‘Gramercy’, by Pat Heywood and Jamil McGinnis, with the Grand Prix in the ‘labo’ section of the same festival.

The official section contains six Valencian shorts, ‘La casa de Coto’, by Guillermo Alcalá-Santaella; ‘Dana’, by Lucía Forner Segarra; ‘Autovía’, by Alba Just; ‘Retazos’, by Alba Pascual; ‘Sobre mi familia cuando la pandemia’, by Javier Robles; and ‘Cuando haces pop’, by Kevin Castellano and Edu Hirschfeld, starring Paula Usero, recognized this edition of Cinema Jove with the award Un Futuro de Cine. The Valencian actress will present the short film during a meeting with the audience.

Other familiar faces in the program are those of Will Ferrell, who stars in Zach Woods’ dramatic comedy ‘David’; Denis Lavant, who adds a new outlandish character to his regulars in Alice Goudon’s short ‘Phoenix 93’; and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher, who participates in the metaphorical walk through the existence of a mother and daughter in Jasmine Trinca’s piece ‘Being my Mother’. Her sister, Alice Rohrwacher, directs four hands with urban artist JR ‘Omelia Contadina’, a film action that wants to support the struggle of small farmers in the volcanic highlands of Alfina. Another well-known name at the helm of a production is Spanish actress Verónica Echegui, who makes her directorial debut with ‘Tótem Loba’, based on a personal experience.

Also based on her own experiences is director Shoko Hara, who in ‘Just a Guy’ recounts her epistolary relationship with Richard Ramirez, murderer and rapist, after his imprisonment. This edition abounds in documentary genre proposals. In ‘Écoutez le battement de nos images’, for example, Audrey Jean-Baptiste details the transformation of her territory, in French Guiana, due to the construction of the Kourou space base. While in ‘Les poux’, by Mar Lahore, about the daily work of a group of volunteers from a social emergency team in aid of the homeless.

Attached to the genre, but with a hilarious approach, ‘Grab Them’ stands out, about the problems faced by a Swedish woman because of her resemblance to former President Donald Trump. And on the border between documentary and animation, ‘Augas abisáis’, by Xacio Baño, has been programmed, where, from the study of the letters of a great-granduncle, explores the myths of the Civil War.

“One more year, the festival returns to take the pulse of animation with projects in 2D, 3D, ‘stop-motion’, metaphysical experimentation and large doses of surrealism,” said the director of Cinema Jove, Carlos Madrid.

Cinema Jove will be held in Valencia from June 18 to 26 and is a festival recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers (FIAPF).

Cinema Jove will be screened in six venues in Valencia during the festival. Go to the link for more details:

Report by 24/7 Valencia team

Article copyright 24/7 Valencia

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