Film reviews and more

IFFR 2021: Madalena review

★★★☆☆ In a small rural town in the middle of acres and acres of soy fields, bodies keep turning up. The latest is the body of a trans woman Madalena (Chloe Milan). The lives of three people seem obscurely affected by the event and are told as separate vignettes. Luziane (Natália Mazarim), who works as a club hostess, goes […]

IFFR 2021: Liborio review

★★★★☆ It’s the beginning of the 20th century, and Olivorio Mateo (Vicente Santos) is a peasant who disappears in the midst of a storm. In the darkness of a cave, he almost gives up hope but manages to escape in a way that appears to be magical. Upon returning to his village, he calls himself ‘Liborio’, and dedicates himself […]

IFFR 2021: Gritt review

★★★★☆ Itonje Søimer Guttormsen’s Gritt is a funny, maddening and at times touching work about art, ambition and how to live. The titular Gritt (Birgitte Larsen) is a familiar figure, both in real life and in culture: the artistic meanderer who desperately wants to express herself but is somehow unable to work out quite what it is she has […]

IFFR 2021: Black Medusa review

★★★☆☆ Nada (played with resolute sternness by Nour Hajri) is a young woman who leads a double life. By day she works for an online company; at night she scours the bars and clubs of Tunis for men who want to take her home. There are plenty. Once she has someone hooked, she drugs them and, once they are […]

IFFR 2019: Koko-di Koko-da review

★★★★☆ In Swedish filmmaker Johannes Nyholm’s second feature Koko-di Koko-da, three bizarre characters from a children’s music box come to life to haunt a grief-stricken couple as they try to escape from a nightmarish cyclical maze of a scenario which unfolds each time in the middle of a forest. In an interview, Johannes Nyholm described how the idea for […]

IFFR 2019: Sheena667 review

★★★☆☆ Actor-director Grigory Dobrygin’s debut feature and IFFR Tiger Competitor Sheena667 tells the story of a Russian couple whose plans to travel to Europe and marriage both get derailed when the man meets a girl on the internet. While humour exposes the absurdity of the situation, the frozen landscape the film is set in underscores its characters’ growing isolation […]

IFFR 2019: Sofia review

★★★☆☆ In Sofia, a young, unmarried Moroccan woman has a child out-of-wedlock. In a film deemed as a ‘social thriller’ where the ultimate revelation holds less power than the reasons for keeping it a secret, Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi explores how issues of gender, class and power interact in a society that exercises rigid control over personal and sexual relationships. Such […]

IFFR 2019: The Best of Dorien B. review

★★★☆☆ In Belgian director Anke Blondé’s The Best of Dorien B., a thirtysomething married mother of two with a flourishing veterinary practice sees her hitherto settled life start to crumble all at once. An unsentimental treatment and lots of wry humour balance out the chaos in a film where a woman must find herself again and all that is […]

IFFR 2019: Transnistra review

★★★★☆ Swedish director Anna Eborn’s documentary follows six teenagers as they go about their lives in Transnistria, an unrecognised state which broke off from Moldova and attempted to assert its independence after the fall of the USSR. Intimately shot on 16mm film, Eborn explores the dynamics of the group, commenting discreetly on youth, love and life in a place […]

IFFR 2016: Préjudice review

★★★☆☆ Notions of marginalisation, responsibility and the ambiguities of nature versus nurture all collide in Antoine Cuypers’ handsome and austere feature debut, Préjudice. The film is built around enormously compelling performances from Thomas Blanchard and Nathalie Baye, as an antagonistic son and mother. They take the leads in a taut chamber piece that pulls at the loose threads of […]

IFFR 2016: Garbage Helicopter review

★★★☆☆ What keeps running but never gets anywhere? This riddle is posed on a number of occasions during writer-director Jonas Selber Augustsén’s head-scratcher of a debut feature. Gym-goers may answer slogging away on a treadmill but the principle could just as easily be applied to a film which is wickedly odd from start to finish. The overarching sense of […]

IFFR 2016: The Bride review

★★★☆☆ The bold and deeply felt symbolism of Federico García Lorca’s famous matrimonial drama, Blood Wedding, makes it ripe for cinematic treatment. There are rich thematic veins to be opened in the writer’s text and his beguiling visual motifs are screaming from the page to be fully realised on screen. Carlos Saura’s flamenco effort Blood Wedding in 1981 is […]