Friday, May 22, 2009

The Virtual Cannes Film Festival: Un Certain Regard, Part 2

(All synopses from the official Cannes site.)

The Wind Journeys (Los viajes del viento) (Ciro Guerra)

Ignacio Carrillo travelled all his life throughout the villages and regions of northern Colombia, carrying music and traditional songs on his accordion, a legendary instrument that is said to be cursed, because it once belonged to the devil. As he became older, he got married and settled with his wife in a small town, leaving his nomadic life behind. When she suddenly dies, he decides to make one last journey to the Northern edge of the country, to return the accordion to the man who gave it to him, his teacher and mentor, so he will never play it again. On the way, he is joined by Fermín, a teenager who dreams of becoming a “juglar” like Ignacio, and to travel all around playing the accordion like he did. Tired of his loneliness, Ignacio accepts to be accompanied, and together they start the journey from Majagual, Sucre, to Taroa, beyond the Guajira desert, finding on the way the enormous diversity of the Caribbean culture and surviving all kinds of adventures. Ignacio will try to convince Fermín to take a different path in his life, having learned that his only led to solitude and sadness, but he will have to face the fact that destiny has different plans for him and his pupil.

Mother (Bong Joon-ho)

Widowed for a long time, a mother lives alone with her only son, Do-joon. He is 28 years old, a shy and quiet young man. In the aftermath of a terrible murder, the woman’s hopeless, helpless son becomes the prime suspect. There is no real evidence against him, but the police throw groundless suspicion at him simply because there is no way he can prove his innocence. Eager to close the case, the police are happy with their cursory investigation and arrest the boy. His defense attorney turns out to be incompetent and unreliable, making a conviction seem inevitable. Faced with no other choice, his mother gets involved, determined to prove her son’s innocence.

Nymph (Nang Mai) (Pen-ek Ratanaruang)

A long time ago in an unnamed forest a beautiful young woman was wandering alone when she fell prey to two men. Shortly thereafter, the lifeless bodies of the two attackers were found floating down the nearby stream. No one knew what happened to the men or where the woman was, or who or what might have saved her life. Flash forward to today. May is a city woman who has everything she could ask for. Things are looking stellar: her career is on the rise, and her long-time husband, Nop, a professional photographer, showers her with love and attention. But fate or desire play tricks on the couple who watches as their lives drift by without much thought or reflection, and soon May starts an affair with Korn, another married man. One day Nop is assigned to take a trip into the forest to film the wildlife. He decides to bring May along. But the journey slowly reveals how the invisible weight of their urban lifestyle haunts them like a spectre, since May insists on behaving as if she were still in the city. Her sole concerns are her laptop and her phone, and instead of working from the office she now works from the tent in the middle of the jungle. Meanwhile, Nop treks into the forest to take pictures of wild deer and forgotten cobwebs, and along the way he stumbles onto a sad-looking tree – a lonely, mysterious specimen deep in the heart of the woods. The tree, it seems, is calling out to him, pulling him closer to it, and Nop finds himself spellbound and can’t resist its attraction. When her husband fails to return to the tent, May sets out to look for him but only finds his phone and a sandal. Only then does she realize how precious their marriage is, and how desperately she needs Nop’s warmth and companionship. Yet when May returns home believing she’s lost her husband, Nop returns. But the forest has changed him into someone else, perhaps forever…

Police, Adjective (Politist, Adjectiv) (Corneliu Porumboiu)

Cristi is a policeman who refuses to arrest a young man who offers hashish to two of his school mates. “Offering” is punished by the law. Cristi believes that the law will change, he does not want the life of a young man he considers irresponsible to be a burden on his conscience. For his superior the word conscience has a different meaning…

Interview with Corneliu Porumboiu:

Precious (Lee Daniels)

When Precious, who is sixteen, learns to read and write at an Alternative School, she discovers a new world. A world where she can at last express herself in a way she never could before. A world where each girl can become beautiful, strong, independent. Just like Precious…

Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton)

Samson, a cheeky 15-year-old boy, and Delilah live in an isolated Aboriginal community in the Central Australian desert. In amongst a tiny collection of houses, everything here happens in a cycle. Day in and day out – nothing changes, everything stays the same and no one seems to care. The two teenagers soon discover that life outside the community can be cruel. Though hungry and rejected Samson and Delilah fall in love. It is all they have. It is real. And when tragedy strikes they turn their backs on home and embark on a journey of survival. Lost, unwanted and alone they discover that life isn’t always fair, but love never judges.

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