10 Picks for Febio Fest 2015

Alan Rickman, Vietnamese sci-fi, Maori action: what to see at Prague's biggest film festival this year

Febio Fest, Prague’s largest film festival now in it’s 22nd year, will return to the screens of CineStar Anděl from March 19 – 27 before moving on to other cities across the Czech Republic. 

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, March 11 at 12:00 – it’s recommended to buy early, as many screenings will sell out. Tickets to individual films can be had for the low-low price of 89 CZK, roughly half of what you’d normally pay at the multiplex.

Almost all films at the festival are English-friendly (either in English or containing English subtitles), but the few exceptions are clearly noted in the online festival program.

Special guests at this year’s festival include actor Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Harry Potter), who will receive the Kristian award for contribution to world cinema at the opening of the ceremony before a screening of his latest film. Rickman stars as King Louis XIV alongside Kate Winslet in A Little Chaos, a film he also directed. 

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Also receiving the Kristian award at this year’s fest – and also on hand for special retrospectives of their work – are actress (and Hitchcock muse) Kim Novak and French director Jean-Jacques Annaud. Novak-starring films screening at the fest include Vertigo, Picnic, and Bell Book and Candle; Annaud’s The Bear and Quest for Fire will show along with his latest, Wolf Totem – which, unfortunately, will not include English subtitles. 

Also honoured at this year’s festival: British director John Madden (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbé (Left Luggage), Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher (The Wonders), and Israeli director Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree).

This year’s fest skews a little more arthouse than past editions, with a lot of leftovers from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival that have yet to receive wide distribution. Below, a quick selection of some of the films I’m most looking forward to.

2030

Vietnamese science fiction set in the titular year, where the country has been submerged by rising sea levels. Advance reviews for director Minh Nguyen-Vo’s film have been mixed, but the premise is irresistible. 

Accused

From director Paula van der Oest, this Dutch drama – originally titled Lucia de B. – takes a look at one of the country’s most famous criminal cases and miscarriages of justice, when the titular nurse was convicted of multiple homicides based – at least partially – on some shoddy math. Accused was shortlisted as one of the nine films eligible for the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year, though it didn’t receive a nomination.

The Dead Lands

This gritty, violent film from director Toa Fraser – about a Maori warrior’s quest for vengeance after the slaughter of his tribe – was New Zealand’s official submission to this year’s Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. 

Magical Girl

This surreal neo-noir about a father trying to fulfil the dying wish of his terminally ill daughter won the Golden Shell at last year’s San Sebastián International Film Festival. Director Carlos Vermut’s previous film, Diamond Flash, became something of an internet sensation after failing to receive local distribution.

Manglehorn

Director David Gordon Green went from George Washington to The Sitter in the span of a decade-plus, but his riveting Joe, starring Nicolas Cage, was one of my favorite movies of 2014. In Manglehorn, Al Pacino stars as a lonely key cutter obsessed with the past.

The Mighty Angel

I was a big fan of Wojciech Smarzowski’s 2013 pitch-black comedy-cum-police thriller Traffic Department. In The Mighty Angel, the Polish director adapts Jerzy Pilch’s novel about an alcoholic writer struggling to beat his addiction. 

No One’s Child

Serbian director Vuk Rsumovic’s debut feature won a trio of awards at last year’s Venice Film Festival. It follows the purportedly true story of a boy raised by wolves in the Bosnian wilderness and later discovered (and exploited) by man. 

Queen and Country

Almost three decades after John Boorman’s wonderful coming-of-age story Hope and Glory, based on the director’s experiences growing up in London during WWII, comes a most-unlikely but entirely welcome sequel that follows Bill Rohan’s early adult years in basic training during the Korean War.

Stray Dogs

The first film from director Ming-liang Tsai (Goodbye, Dragon Inn) in five years has dazzled critics since premiering in China a year ago. From The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin: “Every shot of Stray Dogs has been built with utter formal mastery; every sequence exerts an almost telepathic grip.”

To Kill a Man

This gritty Chilean revenge movie from director Alejandro Fernández Almendras – about a man who takes justice in his own hands after a brutal attack – has fared well on the festival circuit after picking up a World Cinema award at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.

For the full program of films at this year’s festival, head to the Febio Fest website.

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What are you seeing at this year’s Febio Fest?


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