Every year, Mastercard OFF CAMERA offers its participants an opportunity to see nearly one hundred films presented in eight themed sections. The International Festival of Independent Cinema in Krakow has just revealed seven more titles in the two sections: “Herstories” and “American Indies”. The films will be screened from 28th April to 7th May in best arthouse cinemas in the capital of Malopolska.
This year, the organizers of the Mastercard OFF CAMERA International Festival of Independent Cinema announce well in advance the productions that the audience will have a chance to see in Krakow during the film May getaway. As a result, interest in the event is surprisingly high – the first pool of passes has been sold out, even though not all cards have been revealed yet. We will soon announce information on stars and jurors, who will turn out at Mastercard OFF CAMERA and participate in special screenings and galas. The Festival Team, however, gets us ready for … visits to cinemas. After all, they are the foundations of the event: screenings of best films from around the world in Krakow cinemas.
HERSTORIES – uncompromising female protagonists and directors
Mastercard OFF CAMERA is divided into eight sections: four regular and four themed sections. The latter, prepared every year, concern the most current themes raised by filmmakers around the world and in general – in the society.
There are no doubts we’re stuck in a totally patriarchal and chauvinistic society. Though the last few years brought about numerous positive cultural changes, initiated by movements such as #metoo and #timesup, women are still marginalized; either at work, in their families and also in cinema. The special themed section of Mastercard OFF CAMERA not only places women at the very center of film stories but it also showcases films made by uncompromising female directors who turn the gender specific standards upside down.
Films presented in the 2023 “Herstories” section include:
- The exotic scenery of the capital of Nicaragua and… a huge garbage dump, at the edge of which Lilibeth lives with her 11-year-old daughter Maria. In Daughter of Rage, we will see illegal child labor, everyday struggle for survival and unfettered children’s imagination that makes it possible to notice a bit of light and beauty.
- The debut feature by an acclaimed Australian visual artist Del Kathryn Barton, Blaze, is a moving film about a 12-year-old girl who has experienced deep trauma. It tells a story of the vulnerability of children’s mind, and the surprising defense mechanisms it is equipped with.
- Nezouh by Syrian director Soudade Kaadan is set against the armed conflict in war-torn Damascus. However, it is also a warm story about freedom and dreams of a 14-year-old girl and her parents, whose house was badly damaged by a missile.
- With a cast of non-professional actors and all kinds of incredible stunts, the debut feature by French director Lola Quivoron Rodeo is the Easy Rider of our times. Speed-loving Julia, a motorcycle gang and the price that needs to paid for making tough and astounding decisions.
AMERICAN INDIES – against the system and state of affairs
One of the four regular sections, aside from “Making Way” competition (award of USD 25,000) and the Polish Feature Film Competition (the Dominika Kulczyk & dFlights Award of PLN 100,000) is “American Indies”. Invariably dedicated to daring, uncompromising and fascinating American cinema. Invariably dedicated to daring, uncompromising and fascinating American cinema.
Films presented this year in the review of recent American films include, among others, the following three titles.
- Lawrence, who is a rather socially awkward boy, dreams of attending film school in New York. Watching movies gives him the sense of security, so he gets a job at a video store to earn his tuition. I Like Movies by Chandler Levack is a story about complicated friendship and also… a nostalgic tribute to the video era.
- A wild, bittersweet story featured in Safe Space centers around three couples and a lonely man. The director of the low-budget production, Stefan Kubicki, takes us on a weekend retreat in the desert, where nothing goes according to plan – drugs, riddles, infidelity, and perhaps even… aliens? Definitely, one hell of a ride.
- The Cathedral tells the formally economical yet engrossing story of the Damrosch family, with all the ups and downs. Ricky D’Ambrose’s film is a surprising story about growing up and also an ambiguous portrait of a multi-generational American family – its responses to the surrounding world, economic conditions, emotional dilemmas, and even the country’s socio-political situation.
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Detailed information on individual films:
The carefree childhood of twelve-year-old Blaze (Julia Savage) is suddenly lost forever. A terrible act of violence she witnesses accidentally, leaves her deeply traumatized. Her father’s care (played by renowned Australian actor Simon Baker) is not much help to the shock the girl suffered from. Blaze is left catatonic and the world of imagination becomes her escape. It is the only place where she feels relatively safe. She finds consolation in her playmate – an imaginary magic dragon who helps her understand what she had experienced. The poignant plot of Blaze is matched by its form, combining classic live action with original animation and puppetry techniques. The debut feature by an acclaimed Australian visual artist Del Kathryn Barton is a moving story about the vulnerability of children’s mind, and the surprising defense mechanisms it is equipped with. Blaze is also a wonderful tribute to the power of imagination.
Director: Del Kathryn Barton
Screenplay: Del Kathryn Barton, Huna Amweero
Cinematography: Jeremy Rouse
Music: Angel Olsen, Sam Petty
Cast: Julia Savage, Simon Baker, Josh Lawson, Yael Stone, Remy Hii
Release date: 2022
Running time: 101 min/color
Awards: Neuchâtel IFF – Imagining the Future
Daughter of Rage
In her debut film, Laura Baumeister de Montis takes us to the capital of Nicaragua. The exotic scenery of the place contrasts with a huge garbage dump, at the edge of which Lilibeth lives with her 11-year-old daughter Maria. The everyday life of the characters largely comes down to the struggle to survive and make ends meet. Selling a litter of purebred puppies is to bring Lilibeth some extra money. When the deal falls through, she must desperately look for any other sources of income. At that time, Maria, like other local children, including her new friend Tadeo, works in a nearby recycling center, recovering some more valuable resources from garbage. The touching film debut by Nicaraguan director combines social message with a story about unfettered children’s imagination that makes it possible to notice a bit of light and beauty, even in an extreme situation. . A wonderful performance by young Ara Alejandra Medal, who becomes our guide through the brutal world full of social inequality, is not to be missed.
Director: Laura Baumeister de Montis
Screenplay: Laura Baumeister de Montis
Cinematography: Teresa Kuhn
Music: Jean-Baptiste de Laubier, Arthur Simonini
Cast: Ara Alejandra Medal, Virginia Raquel Sevilla Garcia, Carlos Gutierrez, Diana Sedano, Noé Hernández
Release date: 2022
Running time: 87 min/color
Awards: Torino FF – Special Mention
Fourteen-year-old Zeina lives with her parents in war-torn Damascus. After a bomb explodes next to their house, the family needs to ask themselves what’s next. But the girl’s parents disagree on the decision. Zeina’s terrified mother wants to leave town, while her father, despite the impending danger, refuses to become a refugee. Even the fact that their house was badly damaged by a missile, does not stop him from staying at the place. Although the large holes blown in the wall and roof of the building may cause severe discomfort to the family’s everyday life, for Zeina they are a window to the outside world, that lets her weave innocent youthful fantasies. Despite the fact that Nezouh is set against an armed conflict, it is a warm story about freedom and dreams. Syrian director Soudade Kaadan focuses on everyday life of her characters, showing that, even under such unfavorable circumstances, there is some space for little joys in life. Nezouh is an allegorical tale of female emancipation and search for hope in the midst of chaos.
Director: Soudade Kaadan
Screenplay: Soudade Kaadan
Cinematography: Burak Kanbir, Hélène Louvart
Music: Rob Lane, Rob Manning
Cast: Hala Zein, Nizar Alani, Kinda Alloush, Samer al Masri
Country: Syria/United Kingdom/France
Release date: 2022
Running time: 100 min/color
Awards: Venice IFF – Audience Award (Orizzonti Extra), Lanterna Magica Award
Julia (played by Julie Ledru, in her film debut) is a thrill-seeking and speed-loving outsider. The protagonist of the Cannes Film Festival award-winning Lola Quivoron’s film feels true happiness when she can hear the motorcycles rumble sound and smell burnt gasoline hung in the air. Nothing will stop the girl from getting a new motorcycle to take a ride on it, which brings her to the attention of a local motorcycle gang. Julia is desperate to become part of the world that seems inaccessible to her. Filled with anger towards the surrounding reality, the girl feels that it is the only place where she could be herself. She must know, however, that everything has its price. Rodeo is one of the most energetic films of this year’s festival season. With a cast of non-professional actors and all kinds of incredible stunts, the debut feature by French director is the Easy Rider of our times. It also proves that motoring is not just a man’s world.
Director: Lola Quivoron
Screenplay: Lola Quivoron, Antonia Buresi (współpraca)
Cinematography: Raphaël Vandenbussche
Music: Kelman Duran
Cast: Julie Ledru, Yannis Lafki, Antonia Buresi, Cody Schroeder, Louis Sotton
Release date: 2022
Running time: 105 min/color
Awards: Cannes IFF – Jury Coup de Coeur (Un Certain Regard); Seville EFF – Best Actress (Julie Ladru); Torino FF – Special Jury Prize, Best Actress (Julie Ladru), Best Screenplay
I Like Movies
The protagonist of Chandler Levack’s feature debut is a teenager named Lawrence. He is a rather socially awkward boy who enjoys spending his free time on his own, watching movies. The reality he sees on screen is the only one in which he feels perfectly safe. With movies being his greatest passion, the boy dreams of attending film school in New York. Thus, to earn the tuition fee, that his family could not afford, Lawrence gets a job at a local video store, where aside from spending hours watching his beloved movies, he will need to open up to people. The growing problem is noticed also by his only real friend, since their relationship clearly becomes complicated. Lawrence’s obsession with movies is largely an escape from the reality he totally cannot deal with. Levack portrays his character with great sympathy, and even if he sometimes gets annoying, you can’t help but root for the boy. I Like Movies is not only a witty and empathetic story of the difficult process of coming of age, but also a nostalgic tribute to the video era. The times, when everything was easier.
Director: Chandler Levack
Screenplay: Chandler Levack
Cinematography: Rico Moran
Music: Murray Lightburn
Cast: Isaiah Lehtinen, Percy Hynes White, Romina D’Ugo, Krista Bridges, Andy McQueen
Release date: 2022
Running time: 99 min/color
Awards: Calgary IFF – Emerging Canadian Artist (Chandler Levack)
One hell of a film ride? This is perhaps the shortest description of the debut feature by a familiar-sounding name director Stefan Kubicki. This wild, bittersweet story centers around a group of characters – three couples and a lonely man. They are getting ready for a weekend retreat in the desert, a chance not only for some entertainment but also to get to know each other better. As is always the case, nothing goes according to plan and what starts out as a quiet evening is about to devolve into a hallucinatory nightmare involving drugs, riddles, infidelity, and perhaps even… aliens? Playing with film genres, unconventional ideas, witty dialogues and down-to-earth performances – these are the hallmarks of the low budget production, which make Stefan Kubicki’s Safe Space the essence of American indie.
Director: Stefan Kubicki
Screenplay: Stefan Kubicki
Cinematography: Marcin Nadolny
Music: Lucas Lechowski
Cast: David Henry Gerson, Marta Ojrzyńska, Annie Monroe, Travis Myers, Annie Hamilton
Release date: 2022
Running time: 93 min/color
Ricky D’Ambrose’s film is a surprising story about growing up and also an ambiguous portrait of a multi-generational American family. Based on the director’s personal experience, the film follows Jesse, a boy born in the late 80s. Through the first two decades of the young protagonist’s life, The Cathedral features the formally economical yet engrossing story of the Damrosch family, with all the ups and downs The economical and emotional vicissitudes of characters’ lives may metaphorically refer also to the socio-political situation of the country they live in. As stressed by the director himself, it never occurred to him to make a narrative about family dysfunction, but rather about the sense of solitude and inquisitiveness of a young boy looking out his bedroom window. The result is a collage of images and sounds, that lingers.
Director: Ricky D’Ambrose
Screenplay: Ricky D’Ambrose
Cinematography: Barton Cortright
Cast: Brian d’Arcy James, Monica Barbaro, Mark Zeisler, Geraldine Singer, William Bednar-Carter
Release date: 2021
Running time: 87 min/color
Awards: Venice IFF – HFPA Special Prize