Another three film day. Altogether a more successful run, time wise, location and content.
My first film was another film with a female director, Celia Rico Clavellino, as was my last film today. This is pure accident, it just fell out that way, and also there are significantly more women director’s and teams in this year’s selection.
Journey to a Mother’s Room so easily could have been another coming-of-age movie and wasn’t. In this case, it is the life of the mother that goes under the microscope. Superbly acted by Lola Dueñas (see recently in Volver for which she won an Oscar), the mother first reacts against her daughter’s desire to leave home and then endorses it. From then on, having let her daughter loose, the film concentrates on her life and how she adapts to widowhood.
There are poignant moments when her grief almost overwhelms her, as when she opens a wardrobe still full of his clothes, but she grasps the nettle and deals with it.
The whole film has a tender humour about it, as she tricks the mobile phone company into sending her “husband” a brand new mobile with unlimited access; he is dead, of course, but she passes the security test and then learns how to use the phone to keep in touch with her daughter on Instagram and snap-chat. Her first attempt at a selfie, is an example of this.
This is a film full of depth and nuance. Delightful, a little sad and intimate.
Angelo, the second film, is a biopic of an African child, selected and strangely raised as a European in Vienna.
In the end, the Q&A was rather more enlightening than the film. The film was delivered in three distinct chapters, Angelo the child; Angelo the adult and Angelo the old man.
Markus Schleinzer grew up with stories about Angelo Soliman, who was a famous exhibit; the educated and refined negro, but when he came to research the background for the film, he found that pretty nearly everything he had heard was wrong.
Angelo was not assimilated into Society, he was always an exhibition of “the other” and that created for the Director a different focus. In an Austria which now has a radical government and a poor history in race relations, Schleinzer aimed to make this film a more philosophical look at how “we” deal with “them”.
So in each section, differences and attitudes are implicit. In the child section, first the negro child is baptised and then taught to play an instrument and then exhibited performing; by the second section Angelo is more than a servant, for he becomes the companion to the Emperor, but once he transgresses (by marrying without permission to a white servant), the Emperor frees him and dismisses him from the Court. The third section is horrendous, he is an old man and when he dies his corpse is used as an exhibit, as the noble savage.
There is a lot to think about in all this, which applies so significantly at the moment, when so many people are refugees, economic migrants and struggling with the concept of nationalism and identity.
We should be kinder, to each other certainly.
Finally The Kindergarten Teacher.
It goes without saying that Maggie Gyllenhaal is wonderful in the role of Lisa, the teacher. How she took on such a transgressive character and brought to the screen a person whom one could understand, and even like, is quite extraordinary: for Lisa breaks every rule in the book.
Again, this was a film of strong female direction by Sara Colangelo and a largely female production team, so the Q&A was extremely interesting.
In fact all the Q&A sessions today were exceptionally interesting, fully realised with long and thought provoking answers.