International Festival
of Independent Cinema

26.04 – 05.05.2024, Kraków

Themed sections of Mastercard OFF CAMERA 2024.

“Black sheep”, “Girl Power!”, “On the border” and “For a good cause” are the four special themed sections prepared for the 17th edition of Mastercard OFF CAMERA that will take place at the turn of April and May 2024. 

Productions featured in the four new festival sections, which take a closer look at teenage girls and their incredible energy; various kinds of “black sheep” who do not match the general standards and ideas; legal dramas and thrillers about social injustice, and finally – borders and divisions, taken literally or metaphorically, will hopefully provide our viewers not only with valuable lessons on taming the diversity. But they will offer more – exciting film adventures, where differences are celebrated and the Otherness becomes the source of strength – says Grzegorz Stępniak, the Artistic Director of Mastercard OFF CAMERA.

Black sheep and emancipation of… freaks

You do not need to come to California, to be a freak and live a peaceful life of a black sheep, as Lana Del Rey sings in one of her songs. Admittedly, the sunshine state at least since the 1960s has been known as a mecca for all kinds of misfits. It is, however, enough to look around to conclude that the modern cultural landscape is full of various kinds of freaks who have became the most-liked characters and protagonists of numerous productions over the last several years. No wonder – a weirdo conceals danger, has a secret, queries and often breaks the ingrained social and moral norms. Nonetheless, the path to emancipation which freaks are following is not paved with roses. At first, otherness almost always faces mistrust, incomprehension and hostility of the people around it.

In this year’s special section of Mastercard OFF CAMERA “Black sheep” we take a closer look at difficulties and adversities faced by characters who live unconventionally – whose lifestyle is commonly referred to as “weird” and “bizarre”. They are standing out among others because of their image, behavior, opinions or the chosen path of life. Otherness, however, becomes the source of strength for them, despite the difficult start. Although the total liberation and celebration of weirdness is yet to come, we hope that everyone will find a black sheep in themselves along with the protagonists of the presented films.

Girl Power! Girls have their say!

Big and little girls have fascinated creators, not only of films, for a long time. An obvious example of Nabokov’s Lolita whose blooming sexuality becomes the object of the main protagonist’s fascination, and also of the author himself, makes us realize that on one hand, the girl character embodies carelessness, fun and the identity liquidity. And on the other hand, she hides a potential which is gloomy, dangerous and full of, more or less explicit, desire. Following mainly from the patriarchal beliefs and tendencies to make a fetish of girls.

This year’s special themed section of Mastercard OFF CAMERA “Girl Power!” does not, however, deal with men’s dreams and fantasies about girlhood, so much evident in culture. Instead, it offers diverse, complex, sometimes funny, sometimes touching film representations of little girls and adolescent girls, who are fascinating and interesting because of their power, relentlessness and a sense of humor. Thanks to these features they are able to free themselves from various traps that the sexism-permeated reality continuous to set for them.

Films featured in this section focus on class, race and gender differences between the female protagonists. They also clearly demonstrate the strength and topicality of the already cult motto from the second half of the 1990s – Girl Power. Determined, however, not by the naively conceived white feminism, but the emancipation following from the celebration and acceptance of diversity. We would like to shout along with the film characters – Girl Power! And then, vigorously, fearlessly and relentlessly, explore and save the world.

On the border: political, religious, natural and personal

Borders have been a very hot topic recently. Especially in the geopolitical dimension, looking at the more and more terrifying reality around us. The devastating war in Ukraine, brutal armed conflict in Israel, global refugee crisis and the evolving climate change. These are events impacting the entire world today, with people analyzing causes that have led to them. The status quo has been damaged, and the borders, in various dimensions, have been crossed. We have been left with concern and fear about the future.

In this year’s themed section of Mastercard OFF CAMERA “On the border” we would like to give thought to these contexts. Both on the macro scale – looking at borders in political, religious terms, and the increasing pressure on the environment – and from a more personal perspective. It is often the case that greater tension is generated by crossing someone’s borderlines – moral or cultural, and also that we are unable to overcome the limitations we have in our heads. The result is a clinch that is really difficult to be freed from. And although the first step is always the hardest, taking that step gives hope for better future, both individually and globally.

For a good cause

For many decades now, themes around crimes and criminal offences have continued to be one of the most liked by cinema, and not only, audiences around the world. It is demonstrated, for instance, by the popularity of the true crime shows and podcasts, literally devoured by the recipients. No wonder, since hardly anything keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as much as an intricately constructed and well-told criminal intrigue. The conventions of legal dramas and those telling about playing with the legal system have been eagerly and skillfully rewritten also by arthouse film creators. As evidenced by the Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival for Justine Triet and her perfect take on the genre – Anatomy of a Fall.

In this year’s new section of Mastercard OFF CAMERA “For a good cause” we take a closer look at changes in narrative patterns characteristic for legal and crime dramas. We will reflect, among others, on their gender entanglements, cultural importance and social impact. And also the essential issue – the nature of crime and punishment, and the categories of the so-called right conduct.

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