Captain Abu Raed, Time To die, Age Of Stupid, Lake Tahoe, O’Horten - Wales One World Film Festival, Cardiff 09

Alex Skinner 01/04/2009

Wales One World Film Festival, Cardiff 2009
Friday 6 - Sunday 22nd March

What a delight the WOW festival has brought on to us this year. My excitement was justified due to the buzz for the many great films featured. Wow!

This year had a Cuban theme running throughout the festival listings as to celebrate 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. CUUUUUUUUUBA.

At the heart of the festival was a certain climate change film (Age Of Stupid)(pictured above) touted to spread the word, open people eyes and expand their minds about the problem.

Last years WOW 2008 was quite successful with holding 182 screenings and over 7000 people gazing upon 22 cinemas throughout the UK.
This years gathering of world films looks auspiciously varied. All things considered, I would say this is a successful local film festival for Cardiff. I just wish that more people were aware of what's on offer with this kind of event. The rule of thumb for this type of cinematic festival is excess: watch as many films you like the look of, take risks and go with an open mind. Heck, you may uncover a few filmic gems in the process.

Films that fluttered their eyelashes at me this time around were the bright, light and cheery Viva Cuba for a breezy adventure. The dark, docile O'Horten for its subtle comedic touches, that raised an eyebrow. Director Bent Hamer has his trademark storyline that consists of getting screwed over by jobs or following set career paths that fade into nothingness (Factotum feat. Matt Dillon).

Finds Of The Festival

Captain Abu Raed impressed me so much it's only fair to grant this the nicest surprise out of the films watched. It was well-shot, well-acted and well worthy of picking up a World Cinema Audience Award at the last Sundance Film Festival. Following the story of an honest, humble man who changes the lives of many local children to dream of a better life.

Time To die also impressed because it was so well composed and was made with real compassion. It really gets you involved with the situation, as it tells the story of an old women on her last legs with nothing accept a grand family house full of old memories. The dog (Phila) is the best dog actress I have ever seen.

Most Important Film

Age Of Stupid is the outright most important film on show for it's well organised structure, that doesn't spew facts at you about the topic. This is a genuine climate change feature film, with a storyline performed with aplomb by Pete Postlewaite.

After this screening Franny Armstrong held a Q+A afterwards, humble as ever impressed with her passion for the making people aware throughout the world. Franny is now taking on the world with gaining recognition for a great achievement of documentary film making with a bang. www.notstupid.org

In-depth Film Reviews

Age Of Stupid, 2009 Dir: Franny Armstrong
The wonderfully important Age Of Stupid starring the impressive Pete Postlewaite has a cacophonous majesty of ideas boiling in the same pot. Radical, thought provoking and in tune with climate change unrest, the film has it all.

Independently distributed due to ownership/ rights for the film from those who contributed to maintain full rights so the film can be shown for film festivals/ events to get climate change heard. The feature knocks spots off that Al Gore malarkey (An inconvenient Truth) due to being more honest and human. This climate change film is an actual film with a background story. Unique in its delivery, you cannot avoid its message with sincerity.
The well documented areas include: Oil, Wind Farms, An Indian Airline connoisseur, Nigerian oil business, hurricane Katrina, consumerism and social change amongst other issues. There are some similar ideas in documentary Black Gold where the coffee trade in Africa is seen in its rawest form.
Age Of Stupid will hopefully be distributed globally for more awareness, instead of being a flash in the pan issue. Either way the film is such a terrific achievement for not only director Armstrong, but for the entire crew to make it happen.

Lake Tahoe, 2008 Dir: Fernando Eimbcke

Lake Tahoe is an engaging, slow moving piece that simply follows a young boy who crashes his car in a small town. The small town is his life, depicting a broken family unit after the death of his father. It is a lifeless place of nothingness, with no future for any of the inhabitants.

Being slow moving holds the film back, it needing an injection of pace to keep you involved. The editing didn't allow any momentum with annoyingly fading to black when things did pick up. This affected the overall pacing for me.
Some scenes were an effort to get through and if the film wasn't so distinctively composed I would have switched off. The style made me think of the film Wristcutters: A Love Story with its subtly wry humor. The characters needed to be more engaging. Each one was a plain bore: with aspects of dialogue creating awkward minimal exchanges, rife in any of the love interest scenes.

Furthermore, there is a severe lack of soundtrack. A big opportunity is missed, as there is a multitude of musical accompaniment that could fit this feature like a tight, leather glove.

Ideally, something else needed to happen within the story and you get the feeling a trick was missed. Maybe peppering more subtle comedy in key areas?

It was tremendous to see the technical elements gel so nicely yet, the story leaves you frustrated to only get to the final outcome. (Its a memory from a Lake Tahoe bumper sticker)
What I will say is that this cinematography is genuine class, allowing a broad colour spectrum to hit you eyes to create a stylishly defined look.

O'Horten, 2007 Dir: Bent Hamer

O'Horten trivia? Director Bent Hamer also directed Factotum in 2005. He has beaming credentials alongside a great name.

This Norwegian dramedy is centered the life changing moment in 67-year-old Odd Horten's existence. This great character is similar to the Death of a Salesman role in ways but with a modern twist in Norway. Swaying into retirement from 40 honest years in the railway game, Odd Horten realizes that he has nothing to show for it. What has it all been for when people forget you instantly? Only owns a minimal house with no family, real friends or connections.
Our hero Horten tries to do things differently. Taking more risks and doing things he would never have done he attempts to eradicate regret.

Sometimes obscure, the film shifts into gear in the second half more so allowing the story to keep on track. Darkly shot, the cinematography reaches its destination for a tale of regret and longing. Horten makes a connection in the end and is free from a guilty conscious or any regret stored up. At points, the story loses steam but overall it is a film that locomotive enthusiast should get onboard with.

Viva Cuba, 2005 Dir: Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti/ Iraida Malberti Cabrera

Viva Cuba is a colourful Cuban delight that's very pleasing on the eye. The engaging story shares its similarities with Romeo and Juliet as the two families despise each other. The kids Malu and Jorgito have and inseparable friendship that takes them on an adventure down the Cuban coastline on a mission to find Malu's father.
The story is centered on a family unit that's being broken, with an uncertainty of families ever being fixed again. The young pups try and stay together whilst on the run, with getting themselves out of tricky situations by relying on each other.

The film is friendly, free and easy with such a sweet story of them running to solve their problems, Cuban style. The political overtones are refreshing to see as Socialism reigns supreme with the image of the mighty Che ever present. Wonderfully colourful and inoffensive to anyone to watch Viva Cuba lets you join the adventure.

Captain Abu Raed, 2007 Dir: Amin Matalqu

Captain Abu Raed is impressive. This Jordanian piece, was the winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival last year and you can see why.
The first Jordanian feature film for 50 years encapsulated Love and Wisdom with our hero Abu Raed. Abu Raed is an experienced old man who works as a cleaner in the airport. He is humble and is extremely aware of his surroundings in the shantytowns of Jordan. After finding a pilots captain hat whilst cleaning this worldly character provides the local children with stories of his trips to lands far away. These stories are fictional, but are a tool used to inspire the children for a better life.

After Abu Raed (Nadim Sawalha) talks to pilot Nour (Rana Sultan) after her car breaks down, the two of them make a friendship and open up to each other, creating a bond. Nour is a high flying female pilot who lives within a rich family who support her, but want her to have her own children and husband. I would have wanted to see more of Rana Sultan. She is a strong female and this in itself is quite the rarity for such a film.

However, it's not all fun, as a few of the children turn their back after finding that Abu Raed is telling tales. He takes it upon himself to try and help the troubled lads: one of which has an abusive father. Abu Raed helps this family out of the slums creating a wonderfully upbeat ending.

Amin Matalqu's characters have the ability to win you over whilst watching against beautiful cinematography from another land, nay, another world of which we forget exists sometimes.

Time To Die, 2007 Dir: Dorta Kedzierzawska
Time To Die is outright great directing from Dorota Kedzierzawska whose attention to character detail, cinematic texture are all shown within rich Black and White composition.

This lovingly prepared Polish film captured my imagination, a fascinating study of an old lady who has nothing except her grand house and lots of memories. The house is central to the theme as her uncaring lout of a son intends to make money off the house when she passes. It's a sure case of “Over my dead body” as she finds a brilliant alternative to the problem.

The story portrays Aniela (Danuta Szaflarska) as the clever, experienced heroine who has amasses great stories of wonder and bitterness over her life. In the middle of this mêlée is the family house. The main supporting central structure. The place that has history etched into the walls. The place where memories where made now empty remains.

The 93 years young Danura Szaflarska in the lead role is amazing to watch as you connect with the character, that struggles to communicate with an ungrateful family. Her life experience, wisdom and honesty is lovingly depicted in every scene. Her closes friend is Phila, her lovable dog. This is the best dog acting I have ever witnessed from Phila the dog who gently pushes the film on in parts. Like a Dame Helen Mirren of the dog acting world who fully deserves The Best Canine Performance Award at The Polish Film Awards.

This is a great film from a highly skilled director who carefully creates a situation where you are genuinely concerned about the final outcome.

So there we are my pretties, The Welsh One World Festival is always worthy of checking out. Lets all raise an imaginary glass of Lidle Cava for the festival. Here, here.