Artistic Director's Blog: The First Weekend

The festival is under way and as we get ready for our first weekend it feels like a good time to highlight some gems coming tonight, Saturday and Sunday.

Ana Arabia (Friday 20 & Saturday 21 June). The latest masterwork by Amos Gitai (who chairs our Michael Powell Award Competition jury), this is an intimate and beautiful film about many things: morality, love, the living presence of history, and how people co-exist in a single place... The place in question is a small neighbourhood in Jaffa, whose narrow alleyways and modestly welcoming courtyards the camera probes restlessly, together with a young journalist who gets more and more interested in this inner-city enclave where Jews and Arabs mingle and share the pleasures of life. It’s a touching, complex and beautiful film from one of our leading filmmakers.

Final Whistle (Friday 20 & Sunday 29 June). One of Iran’s biggest stars, Niki Karimi (chair of our International Competition jury) brings her great talent as both actor and director to this compelling account of a race against time for justice. She plays a documentary filmmaker who becomes committed to the cause of leniency for a woman who faces execution on the charge of killing her husband. Straightforward and uncompromising in its storytelling, the film is filled with tension, passion and humour. (The fact that it happens to be set during the 2010 World Cup makes its gripping story feel even more of-the-moment.)

Something, Anything (Saturday 21 June). Here’s a tremendous surprise from the United States: a fresh and unpredictable look at the changes a newly married young woman undergoes after suffering a miscarriage. Alienated from her alpha-male, work-oriented husband, our heroine feels the stirrings of a need to define herself in terms of some higher purpose: maybe community service, maybe religion, or maybe the shy, intellectual guy who liked her in school, and who unexpectedly reappears in her life... With great sympathy and intelligence, the film watches her make her way step by step toward a goal that she can never clearly define. This beautiful first feature by director Paul Harrill has a great performance by Ashley Shelton.

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