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Culture

Eight films reach for 3 Continents Festival Golden Air Balloon award

media The trophies for the Three Continents Flim Festival © karl Colonnier

Thirty-nine years after its lift-off in 1979, and despite some turbulence along the way, the Three Continents film festival, or 3FC continues to award its air balloon trophies in gold and silver. A jury of five movie personalities including Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodrigues will pick the winners to be announced in Nantes on Tuesday night, 28 November.

Here are the contenders in alphabetical order:

  • Angels Wear White (Jia Nian Hua) - director, Vivian Qu. Set in a southern Chinese seaside resort where a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe is a poignant prop, the story is about an investigation into child molestation. In a message sent from Taiwan, Qu said, "I was struck by numerous news stories about teenagers, whether they are victims of assault or they participate in crime. I started to ask myself why." Qu writes each character's personal justification for their act which keeps the subject matter at a bearable distance.
  • The Brawler - director, Anurag Kashyap. A love story, complicated by status and caste in northern India, between an aspiring champion boxer and the niece of the powerful and corrupt coach he has insulted. A savvy mixture of Kashyap's production, directing experience and personal taste with hints of Bollywood soppiness, music and fight scenes which updates Indian film and gives it wider appeal internationally.
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight - director, Nobuhiro Sowa. Starring French actor Jean-Pièrre Léaud and a group of French kids from about four to 13, set in the south of France, it's Asian because of its director and has the hallmark charm of the cinema of both countries. Images full of light and poetry and endearing characters, real or imagined, frolic together in Nobuhiro and Léaud's contemplation of life and death.
  • Newton - director Amit V Masurkar. A concise political and social, dark, comedy which, while corny in parts, exposes serious questions about democracy, power and ordinary lives. Neatly composed and deftly executed with comedy softening the blows. The people who live in the tribal setting under the constant presence of the Indian army in Chhattisgargh State are not bothered about what happens in the rest of the country. "When political discourse becomes dull," said Masurkar, "democracy is in danger... It took me time to distinguish between electoralism and democracy." From the applause at the end of the show, this could win the audience award.
  • Oblivion Verses (Los versos del olvido) - director Alireza Khatami. An elderly man, played by Juan Margallo, is a cemetery caretaker and his cemetery is about to be shut down. Spanish is spoken although the director says "it could happen anywhere, the loss of a loved one is universal". There is no specific reference to Chile where it was shot and the past and present are jumbled in a quasi-ghost story, quasi-nightmare experience. As well as the title, Khatami pulls off the tricky task of matching emotional and visual poetry with few words. "I am more of a visual storyteller," he says.
  • So Long Enthusiam (Adio entusiasmo) - director Vladmir Duran. Art-house but not experimental, the film was shot in a home in Buenos Aries, Argentina, almost always in an interior half-light, half-shadow. A voice-off informs us that a mother of three young women and a boy has something wrong with her and is shut off from the rest of the apartment. Mental or physical or both, it's unclear. Clearly however, her relationship with her children is strained. At the end it seems that their shared eccentricity saves them individually and collectively.
  • Taming the Horse (Xun Ma) - director Tao Gu. A frst full-length documentary which takes us from Kunming to Inner Mongolia on a train, in apartments, in a night club. Tao Gu takes his time with his 30 year-old main character Dong, who cannot espouse the excessive quest for money in the powerful economy that China has recently become. In the film he is lost and it turned out to be part of his journey to find his direction. "The film infuenced Dong ... he has become a Buddhist. I wanted to his show human values most of all," said Tao Gu.
  • Toublanc - director Ivàn Fund. A cleverly edited film partly shot in Parisand Buenos Aries, which juggles with visual symmetry in two different stories on two continents. Two characters, a male, a pretty-much hands-off police inspector sent to carry out an investigation in France, and a female French teacher in Argentina seeking love and finding a horse, are constantly on the move, physically and emotionally in a screenplay based on a story by Juan Jose Saer, but "with a lot of room allowed for improvisation and accident", says non-actor and film critic Nicolas Azalbert, who plays the policeman.

The trophy is a symbol of a sport associated with the western French region around France - hot air ballooning, which is easier to do here than in many other places because of the winds that blow in from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

After each international competition film screening, the members of the audience cast ballots for their favourite, which is honoured by a separate award.

The films in the competition are not necessarily world premières although they are screening for the first time in France.

The festival is known for its overall rich programme which this year included a collection of rare films from Korea, from late director Shin sang-ok.

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