TIFF58 – International Competition

Proposing a subversive approach to cinema: Simone Weil’s The Need for Roots

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul
Simone Weil (1909-1943)

Each year the International Competition section of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival discovers the boldest new voices of contemporary independent cinema, presenting the first or second films by the most promising filmmakers from all over the world.


The concept behind the IC of the 58th TIFF
The International Competition section of the 58th Thessaloniki International Film Festival is comprised of 14 films, three of which are Greek. This year the festival proposes a subversive way to approach the art of cinema, by selecting the IC films in the light of a universal idea and a timeless wish: The Need for Roots, inspired by the seminal book of the same title by the French social philosopher and activist Simone Weil, one of the most iconic intellectuals of the 20th century.

The Need for Roots highlights, inter alia, the essential needs of the human soul, the concept of uprootedness, as well as the re-establishment of roots, envisioning a “new culture” based not on power, but on justice and love. Weil’s legacy, praised by Albert Camus and T.S. Eliot among others, is an outstanding social manifesto. An uncompromised idealist, Weil was entirely devoted to experiencing her ideas and she actually identified with the anonymous heroes of everyday life.

These heroes are the protagonists in the films of this year’s International Competition section. All films, despite their thematic and stylistic variety, share the aforementioned concept; the need for roots, Weil’s timeless ideas and invincible spirit.

The films
The foreign films of the International Competition section are:

Beast by Michael Pearce, United Kingdom, 2017, 107’: A young woman falls for a mysterious outsider who may be the suspect of a string of murders, in this striking psychological thriller that takes place in a small island community.

Cargo by Gilles Coulier, Belgium-The Netherlands-France, 2017, 91’: A man slips into a coma, leaving his sons behind with massive debts and responsibilities. A compelling family drama about how desperation can bring a family to the edge of destruction.

Closeness / Tesnota by Kantemir Balagov, Russia, 2017, 118’: Based on true events, Balagov’s impressive debut feature delves into the multilayered bonds of a family, following the kidnap of a young couple in Russia’s North Caucasus (FIPRESCI award, Cannes FF 2017).

Life Guidance by Ruth Mader, Austria, 2017, 101’: A dark Orwellian allegory, Mader’s futuristic thriller is set in a dystopian society where a private company named “Life Guidance” corrects the behaviour of those who are not “functional” enough.

Lucky by John Carroll Lynch, USA, 2017, 88’ : Harry Dean Stanton’s last film unfolds the main character’s journey of self-exploration like a tender love letter to the actor’s life and career, beautifully crafted by the actor John Carroll Lynch in his directorial debut.

No Date, No Signature / Bedoone Tarikh, Bedoone Emza by Vahid Jalilvand, Iran, 2017, 104’: A fine example of the cinema of moral dilemmas, the film centres on a well-respected forensic pathologist who gets involved in a car accident, where an 8-year-old boy is injured, but the following day is found dead.

Ravens / Korparna by Jens Assur, Sweden, 2017, 107’: Agne struggles to save his farm, while dreaming that his son will take over. When the two of them clash, it will be late to distinguish the fine line between stubbornness and madness. The first feature film by famous photographer Jens Assur is a dramatic ode to family burden.

The Dragon’s Defense / La Defensa Del Dragon by Natalia Santa, Colombia, 2017, 80’: A young female director manages to capture the mental trace of aging masculinity through the touching story of three friends who grow old, unable to make any life decisions. Nevertheless, they will have to face reality.

The Garden / Sommerhauser by Sonja Maria Kröner, Germany, 2017, 97’: The smells, colours and sounds of a summer that a bourgeois family spends in their cottage house in 70s Germany, set the tone in a film which skilfully explores memory and family ties.

Those Long Haired Nights / Mga Gabing Kasinghaba Ng Hair Ko by Gerardo Calagui, Philippines, 2017, 72’ – European premiere: The film uncovers a journey to the end of the night, through a gloomy district of Manila, where the only things glowing in the dark are some red lights and the dreams of three transgender women.

Winter Brothers / Vinterbrodre by Hlynur Pálmason, Denmark-Iceland, 2017, 94’: The troublesome relationship between two brothers who try to make ends meet is revealed in this slow-burning, tense debut film about the endless winters of family relationships.

The three Greek films that complete the line-up will be announced soon.

Directors in attendance: John Carroll Lynch, Sonja Maria Kröner, Ruth Mader, Jens Assur, Gerardo Calagui, Gilles Coulier, Vahid Jalilvand, Hlynur Pálmason.

The exhibition: “Taking Roots”
The International Competition section is complimented this year by a special exhibition titled “Taking Roots” that will be presented for the first time during the 58th TIFF at the Former Army Warehouse (Peer Α΄, Thessaloniki Port). TIFF invited 14 young Greek artists to watch the films of the IC section, become inspired and create 14 original works –paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations- for each one of the films. The participating artists are: Rania Bellou, Natasa Eftstathiadi, Dimitris Fragakis, Leonidas Giannakopoulos, Chrysanthi Koumianaki, Maria Kriara, Maria Mavropoulou, Kosmas Nikolaou, Yorgos Papafigos, Vassilis Selimas, Anastasis Stratakis, Stefania Strouza, Maria Tsagari and Paky Vlassopoulou. The exhibition is organised by TIFF with the support of the 6th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art.


Thessaloniki International Film Festival