Posts Tagged ‘Karlov Vary’

Arsenie: An Amazing Afterlife (2023) Karlovy Vary 2023

Dir: Alexandru Solomon | Doc Romania/Lux 96′

Arsenie Boca, a revered priest, theologian and mystic is the subject of this deep dive into faith and religious persecution from Romanian filmmaker Alexandru Solomon.

Since the advent of Jesus Christ, humanity has always been fascinated by visionary miracle makers holding them out to represent the holy grail in our everlasting search for the meaning of life.

Zian Boca, born in 1910 in Hunedoara, Romania, followed an orthodox religious path travelling to the legendary Mount Athos for spiritual training, before being ordained a deacon in 1935 and subsequently the abbot of Brancoveanu Monastery five years later, despite persecution by the communist regime, the holy man has been hailed as a saint by his many followers although he has yet to be canonized.

The film, the latest outing from seasoned cinematographer and director, Solomon, who started making documentaries in 1993, is composed of a series of re-enactments of Boca’s life and provides not only a vibrant insight into his work as a visionary and spiritual leader but also serves to reflect the state of contemporary society as believers desperately search for answers and cling onto the concept of miracles to sublimate them into a more edifying and meaningful existence in this increasingly troubled and perilous world. A film full of hope and insight that never takes itself too seriously in capturing the essence of this inspirational philosopher, scholar and cleric. MT



A Far Shore (2022) Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2022

Dir.: Masaaki Kudo; Cast: Kotone Hanase, Yumeni Ishida, , Yumemi Ishida, Yoshiro Sakuma; Japan 2022, 128 min.

This epic drama from Japan’s Masaaki Kudo would be very much at home in the 1950s but despite the conventional aesthetic and narrative, is still manages to be quite overwhelming. In this age of minimalism and under-developed scripts, Kudo bucks the recent trend with an emotional blockbuster full of poetry and lyricism and told in a series of chapters that chart the heroine’s downfall. .

In Okinawa, seventeen year-old Aoi (a brilliant Hanase) has left school and works as a hostess in a nightclub, leaving her two-year old son Kengo in the care of her husband Masaya (Sakuma). Masaya is only interesting in gambling and drinking – and is on the verge of being fired from his job, leaving parental duties to Aoi’s grandmother.

Aoi tries to hide money from her husband, but he beats her up brutally, and eventually due to Masaya’s laziness and incompetence, the family slides into debt, and faces eviction. Aoi’s grandmother blames her granddaughter for the family’s disgrace, leaving only Mio (Ishida), a work collegue, to come to her rescue. But when Masaya gets in trouble with the police, Aoi becomes embroiled in a no-win situation with the authorities and she has to relinquish her job at the nightclub, and work as an escort as her life gradually implodes due to no fault of her own.

In this male-dominated society, Aoi is literally consumed by the men in her life, who exploit her to serve their own needs. While the feminism angle is under-played, Kudo never leaves us in any doubt at to his intentions. Set on the widescreen and in intimate close-up, A Far Shore contrasts the glittering night-scapes of the Japanese city with the squalor of ordinary people’s lives. DoP Takayuki Sugimura’s images of the seaside are a fitting highlight his third feature film. AS


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