Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday at EUFF - Day 2

Friday, November 5, 2010



Title/Original Title/Country/Category/Director/Length/Festival Synopsis/My Comments


6:00 PM

Storm Bound (2007)


Original Title: De Scheepsjongens Van Bontekoe

Country: Netherlands

Category: Family fun

Director: Steven de Jong

Principal Cast: Pim Wessels, Martijn Hendrickx, Billy Zomerdijk, Reena Giasi, Peter

Tuinman, Thomas Acda  Bart Slegers, Cees Geel Mads Wittermans, Bas Keijzer,Chris Zegers ,Jack Wouterse ,Sanneke Bos.

Awards: 2007 – Netherlands Film Festival; Golden Film Award

Length: 135 Min


14 year old Hajo has always dreamed of life on the high seas. The fact that his father, a respected sailor, was killed on a ship does nothing to lessen his desire to leave land behind and seek adventure overseas. So when Captain Bontekoe shows up in town, recruiting for his next exciting voyage to Java, Hajo knows he has no time to lose. His mother tries her best to talk him out of it, but even she can see the sea is in her son's blood, in the same way as it was in her husband's. What follows, as Hajo climbs on board Bontekoe's ship along with faithful friends, Padde and Rolf, is a high octane hurricane of thrills and adventure.


Thomat: Looks like a llot of fun in an old-fashioned swashbudkling sort of way. Apparently a story that everyone in Holland knows and loves.


Plays again Monday night!

De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe (English translation: "The Ship-boys of Bontekoe") is a 2007 Dutch family film, directed by Steven de Jong. The film received a Golden Film for 100,000 visitors. Based on the book De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe.


An entertaining adventure of three friends in the Age of Sail

IMDb viewer, Arconada: "De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe" ("The ship-boys of Bontekoe") is an entertaining adventure of three boys who travel to the East-Indies and back in the 17th century. The movie takes you to Batavia with all kinds of adventures on the way, and it shows that you can achieve anything if you really want to. The main characters Hajo, Padde, and Rolf also show that friendship makes you stronger. The journey of Bontekoe really did happen, but the story of the boys is fiction. The movie is based on a Dutch youth-adult novel by Johan Fabricius, a popular book ever since it was first published in 1924. Although everyone in Holland knows the plot of the story, the movie is still very entertaining because of the acting by the main characters. Especially Billy Zomerdijk plays an admirably clumsy Padde, who did not really want to go to sea. The film crew was able to use the replica of the Batavia, a ship of the same period, and together with all kinds of anecdotal incidents, the feeling of sea travel in those days is convincingly visualized. A must see for everyone who is fond of the Age of Sail.


8:30 PM

The Killer of Montmartre (2007)


Original Title: Le Tueur de Montmartre

Country: France

Category: Animation

Director: Borislav Sajtinac

Awards: 2009 – Grand Prix “ATHENA” award – imaginative script and captivating fiction and technique

Length: 50 mins


François, a failed painter, dedicated his time between a ferocious hatred for his tyrannical mother, the search for inspiration and a pointless job. His only companion is a large knife. His mother will be its first victim, the first murder in his career as a serial killer. While out walking, he has a strange encounter with Death. In several face-to-face exchanges with this unlikely interlocutor, he discovers a unique character. But following a game, Death suffers a fatal fall. François returns to his life, but are things back to normal?


Thomat: Not for kids! I know it’s animation, but it’s not for kids! Kids would be traumatized for life! Very gruesome. What else would you expect from a story about a likeable serial killer?

From the artist’s website: This film tells the history of a serial killer who ends up meeting his master.

Supported by his wife Hélène in scriptwriting and production, Sajtinac worked on this project for 3 years. It is a mixture of drawings and reworked photographs. Renaud Barbier composed and directed the original soundtrack. The voices of Stefan Godin and Lucienne Kahn complete the credits. Released in 2007, Le tueur de Montmartre, which received no official aid, is a production entirely financed by Louis XVI (the sale of a commode enabled its production...). The film, presented in numerous international festivals, won 4 Grand Prix.



The artist, Borislav Sajtinac, Lives and works is Paris. He was Born in Yugoslavia 1943. He studied at the School of Decorative Arts in Novi Sad, at the Academy of Art in Belgrade, and a stopover at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He made his first short film in Munich in 1967, ANALYSIS, (3 min, 35 mm, black and white). It was followed by many animated short subjects made in Yugoslavia and Germany.


9:40 PM

Little Girl Blue (2007)


Original Title: Tajnosti

Country: Czech Republic

Category: Drama comedy

Director: Alice Nellis

Principal Cast: Iva Bittová, Karel Roden, Martha Issová, Ivan Franěk, Miloslav König.

Awards: 2008 - Golden Kingfisher; Pilsen Film Festival: Best Film

2008 - Bronze Rosa Camuna

2009 - won three Czech Lions for Best Czech Film

            Best Cinematography (Ramūnas Greičius)

Length: 93 mins


Julie’s got it all: a well-behaved daughter, an attractive lover and the work as a translator that she does for her own enjoyment since she is supported by her successful and nurturing husband. When furnishing her dream home, however, she comes to the realization that there is something desperately lacking: a piano. Thus she leaves the security of her daily routine – on a seemingly senseless pilgrimage with a painful dilemma lurking at its end. At stake are the past and the future of her real relationships and values.

Plays again Wednesday night!

Ceskatelevize: Julie, a translator, has just moved into a new house with her successful husband Richard and teenage daughter Cecilie. Their life is supposed to be that of the perfect happy family. When she hears that her favourite singer has died Julie has the sudden realization that her life is not what she wants it to be. Acting on an impulse she decides to buy a piano, and en route her life changes completely. But first she has to resolve her past and present if she is to start the new life she desires.

In this film about the various shapes of love, the role of Julie is an acting comeback for the singer and violin player Iva Bittova. Alice Nellis' previous film Some Secrets garnered international acclaim and awards, including The New Director's Prize at San Sebastian (2002), The Golden Ard for best film at the Paris Film Festival (2003), and the Czech Golden Lion for best screenplay (2003).




More on:


Storm Bound / The Ship-boys of Bontekoe / De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe (2007)


Exciting preview here.


Big mistake noted on IMDb: The ship Nieuw-Hoorn shows a steering wheel. Dutch ships in this age used a tiller.


Pickey, pickey. Synopsis: In the Dutch-language, family-oriented adventure De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe, three young boys in the 17th century embark on a seafaring journey to Batavia (now Jakarta), a port on the northwest coast of Java. En route, however, their plans take a most unanticipated twist when the boat is shipwrecked and leaves the youngsters stranded on a South Seas island.


The Killer of Montmartre / Le Tueur de Montmartre (2007)

Fantasia Film Festival: François has had enough. He’s fed up with his mother, with his dead-end job and with the exasperating creative block that’s hindering his true passion, painting. His best friend is a finely honed knife that was once his father’s, and it’s in that hand-held object that François sees the solution to all his problems. He uses it to rid himself of his mother, once and for all, and thus begins his new career as a serial killer. Terrorizing Montmartre with his heinous crimes, François is on a path that will bring him face to face with the Grim Reaper himself.


Masterpiece alert—Borislav Sajtinac’s LE TUEUR DE MONTMARTRE is a triumph of adult animation. With humour as black as coal, a protagonist as appealing as he is appalling, and a distinctive and magnificent use of digital animation, it unveils a realm of the absurd which, for all its ever-present depravity, harbours a glimmer of hope for a better world. An homage to French noir novels inflected with the fantastic, this existentialist medium-length film is to be savoured like the finest cognac.



Little Girl Blue / Tajnosti (2007) Over the past few years, Czech filmmakers seem to be making films about relationships. There is an obvious move away from  social and political themes, even in comparison with the films of the 1990s. Tajnosti deals with what seems to be a banal topic of marital infidelity, with the theme of boredom in a relationship between husband and wife who used to be close to each other. Yet the film seems quite exceptional – because of the way in which the director has approached her narrative. There is a subtle and effective coordination of the actors´ performances, camera, editing and music. As a result, the film is really absorbing: there are scenes of absolute magic.


Tajnosti takes place in a modern, cosmopolitan Prague in the second half of the 2000s. First, the film creates the impression that the director deliberately builds up an image of an Americanised, contemporary Western metropolis (viz. the images of  busy motorways, modern architecture, hectic city life).  In a way, Tajnosti  is an almost “unCzech”. It is an international, cosmopolitan film. The director may be arguing that almost twenty years after the fall of communism her country has lost its subtler national characteristics. This certainly seems to be the case when we look at the Czech Republic  from the point of view of upper middle class life which the film depicts. It almost feels that this could be a French film.


Julie, a middle-aged wife of a rich businessman, realises that her life has no meaning. The heroine is played by the well-known Czech singer   Iva Bittová. She has created a convincing portrait of a shy, polite woman who tends to avoid attention and who keeps her emotions in check. She would probably want to scream, although, as an intelligent person she is aware that that would solve nothing. Julie´s husband seems to be  a workaholic, but he is, in fact, being unfaithful to his wife. For many months, there is no close contact between Julie and her husband. It is very similar with Julie´s relationship to her matter-of-fact, sensible seventeen-year-old daughter who still lives with her parents, but she has her own life. The husband and the daughter are used to the fact that the wife is very self-effacing. When one morning  she sees on television that the American jazz singer  Nina Simone has died, she is suddenly struck by an awareness of mortality. Julie remembers how as a child, she played the piano, and says at breakfast that she wants to buy one. Her husband and her daughter look at her as though she has gone mad.

This is almost the whole story of the film. Tajnosti hardly tells you anything else. The film just sensitively follows the behaviour of the heroine who is trying to deal with an unpleasant feeling that life is passing her by. She feels, although she cannot express this in words, that things are not right. It is only when relationships which used to function in the past break down that you realise that things which used to seem simple are in reality much more complex and maybe they are unmanageable. And one keeps making mistakes: "I wish I didn´t need to feel ashamed," complains Julie tearfully to a young musician friend at the end of the film.  Julie was always taken for granted in the past. She fulfilled the stereotypical role of housewife and mother. In the film, we see her awakening as an independent human being.

The heroine is trying to set her life right because it feels out of joint. The desire to purchase a piano is the expression of a – vague – wish to to return clarity, satisfaction and self-esteem.


Right at the beginning of the film Julie tells her lover, an actor named Karel, that she doesn´t want to see him any more. She is unhappy with a relationship on the side. She doesn´t tell him that she is pregnant, although Karel would have welcomed the news: he wants her to leave her husband and live with him.


Nothing else seems to be happening in the film – yet everything takes place there. When trying to purchase her piano, Julie makes the acquaintance of a young talented pianist, who has inherited a shop selling musical instruments from his grandfather and, as he says, has brought it to ruin in three months. (Later on, the young man appears to cast doubt on this statement, so we do not really know what bothers him.  His problems seem to be complex. This is what makes the film interesting. Julie and the young  musician become very close. This is because they seem to have the same  inarticulate quarrel with the world.  The scenes with Julie and the young musicians are very moving.


Just when Julie is about to admit to her husband that she has been unfaithful to him, he is the one who admits to her that he has had a sexual relationship with his secretary. He says he feels guilty and doesn´t know what to do. Yet the husband is no typical Czech male chauvinist pig – after his confession, he goes out of his way to make it up to Julie. There are several well-meaning attempts of the protagonists to become emotionally close. This may or may not work in the end – the film remains open-ended. What is certain is that Julie has emancipated herself – she will never again assume the role of a subordinate wife.  The husband has purchased a new, fancy high-tech flat; yet Julie moves back to their old flat, where she gives instructions that her new piano should be delivered. Her husband comes into the old flat with bags full of food, wanting to make dinner. Julie gives him the untrasound scan of her unborn child.  This is – or isn´t it? an admission of infidelity on her part. It is not clear whether the child is her husband´s or Karel´s. It is not clear whether Julie will have an  abortion and whether she will return to her husband.


Alice Nellis concentrates on human relationships. She shows all the good things that a family experiences when the children are small. She confronts the happy past with the unsatisfactory present – and gives a sensitive testimony about the human condition, without even the hint of a happy end.


Prague is shown in this film to be an affluent, pleasant, picturesque and comfortable metropolis because it is viewed from the point of view of the upper middle classes for whom money is no object. It looks as though Prague is now practically owned by these people – money can buy them anything. Hostility of passers-by seems to be the only remaining feature of contemporary Czech society. Almost everyone in the film is aggressive to any person they meet. Later, this hostility may turn into friendship and compassion, but the hostile attitude to everyone around seems to be the automatic attitude. The only person who is not automatically suspicious of his environment is the down-and-out on the tram who, in a friendly gesture warns Julie that a ticket inspector is about to pounce on her. Maybe, the film argues, that the down-and-out is a down-and-out because he is wary of people around him and is not capable of defending his own interests by assuming that everyone is against him.


The city of Prague, as it is depicted in this film, is extremely lively. Things are going on everywhere around Julie. She is just passively witnessing them, driving around in her car. They are in contrast with her own life with seems barren. Julie´s vision of the city she lives in is of course subjective, as is everyone´s vision. This is shown  when Julie takes a taxi and the lady taxi driver says that her dog had died and since then she keeps  seeing people going out with dogs everywhere –as the film then demonstrates.


Unlike in the films made in the communist era, the feeling that things are no right does not stem from social conditions, but comes from within the individual. Stylised dance becomes a metaphor for alienation – whenever Julie watches life passing by.




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