All the movies I saw at this year’s FilmFest were enjoyable and different. The first one was my least favourite. It was the strangely titled THE RAGGED LIFE OF JUICE KESKINEN which told the story of Finland’s popstar who was as famous in the Sixties as the Beatles were in Britain and the USA. Unlike the Fab Four, Juice was unattractive in appearance and character. He messed up his life and his wife’s and child’s. Today, however, Finns still hum and sing the songs he wrote and performed.
THE BARE NECESSITY was my favourite film. It was a quirky French film which showed how love can transform lives, hopefully for the better. Juliette was unloved by her parents and Pierre felt he had no tie in his busy life for romance but their attraction for each other grew and their love affair helped others focus on the important things in their lives too. The Canadian film EINE KOLONIE came next and told the story of young teenager Mylia. She was a quiet, reserved child who found it difficult to fit in with her peers at High School. Her friendship with Jimmy, a member of the Abenaki tribe of Canada’s indigenous people helps her gain confidence and hope when circumstances force a change in her life.
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON was the only movie I saw which didn’t have subtitles. Its director was brave enough to cast a young man with Down syndrome in a leading role. Zak meets Tyler and a friendship slowly develops. When Eleanor finds the runaway Zak, she and Tyler find that they both want to help him, but how?
The movie ECHO was made up of many vignettes and gave glimpses into life in Iceland just before Christmas and ending on New Year’s Eve. Each tiny playlet showed a piece of someone’s day. A chance meeting in a bus shelter elicits an apology from one young woman to another, a girl who had been bullied unmercifully at school. The victim is still clearly affected by those past events but she accepts the apology. A drug addict receives help and reassurance from social workers who give him a Christmas goodie bag and the promise of a meal on Christmas day.
SOUTH TERMINAL was another French film which made full use of its location. It is set in the south of France but far from the wealth of Cannes, Nice or Saint Tropez. Poor Frenchmen of Algerian heritage scratch a living as best they can. They all respect a caring and kindly doctor who tries to comfort patients as the town grapples with unexplained acts of violence and menace. When his life is changed forever others offer him the help that he had offered them.
The documentary DAS KAPITAL IM 21.JAHRHUNDERT documents the rise of capitalism and society’s inequalities. Is it too late to put the world to right? Not according to this movie’s point of view.
Finally, I watched SPIDER, a movie from Chile which told of a trio of people who were part of the movement which brought about the downfall of president Salvador Allende and how they live with the consequences forty years later. One member is destroyed by his past and in turn destroys others today. Another is a victim himself and the third tries to compensate for her past by doing good works.
All eight movies are connected by a feeling of optimism. Through romantic love, a loving kindness shown to others or a hope that things will one day be better, they all suggest that people still care about each other and we are motivated to help each other more often than not.