CPH PIX: The picks of the festival

Returning for it’s fifth year, Denmark’s CPH PIX Film Festival is quickly becoming recognised as one of the most exciting events on the film industry calendar. From the 11-24th April, the capital city plays host to visiting filmmakers from across the world; showcasing reworked versions of classics alongside gallant new productions.

For more information, ticket bookings, and to download the program, visit the festival website here. For now, here’s a glimpse into my Filofax over the next two weeks, with my ‘must-see’ CPH PIX events and film screenings. Seriously, there are some right corkers in here.

closed curtain

Closed Curtain (Pardé), dir: Jafar Panahi & Kambuzia Partovi, Iran
Fresh from it’s premiere at Berlinale earlier this year – where it also bagged up a Silver Bear Award for Best Screenplay – Iranian neorealist maestros Jafar Panahi and Kambuzia Partovi bring their new social drama to CPH PIX. It’s a loosely veiled thought piece about a screenwriter trying to rescue his outlawed best friend, a dog named ‘Boy’. Similarly to his landmark documentary This Is Not A Film, Panahi deconstructs the fourth wall by featuring in Closed Curtain as an on-screen player in the drama, directly attacking the theocratic regime that sees him currently under house arrest in Tehran. The film promises to be a potent, satire on the struggles currently facing artists up against the strict Iranian government.

Maddened By His Absence (J’enrage de son absence), dir: Sandrine Bonnaire, France
With a successful career in front of the camera, French actress steps behind the lens for her first director-writer role in the drama Maddened By His Absence. A heartrending story, it stars Oscar winning American actor William Hurt as Jacques, a grieving father trying to combat the pain of losing a loved one. The film struck a nerve with people at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and will no doubt evoke the same reaction in audiences here. I fully expect to be a quivering wreck by the time the credits roll.

A Wall Is A Screen – Nørrebro
Aside from the great films being showcased, CPH PIX gets all experimental with this audacious guerilla screening project. Free and open to all, the festival will project a series of short films on various city landmarks. All you have to do is turn up on Dronning Louises Bridge from 9pm (preferably with beers and an umbrella).

Wes Anderson Bingo
Think you know your Wes Anderson cliches? Put your knowledge to the test in Wes Anderson Bingo! First played in New York last year, it’s quickly becoming the new ‘thing’, whipping both grannies and hipster circles into a storm. Your 80kr entry fee will give you a couple of score cards and entry into the Wes Anderson screenings. For a few extra gold stars, you can even dress up as your favourite Anderson character. I already have the jumpsuit, so I guess I’m this guy.

Paradise: Love/Faith/Hope, dir: Ulrich Seidl, Austria
While I have been prone to finding his work quite divisive, Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl’s work has always made me curious. Similarly to his more virtuosic native contemporary Michael Haneke, Seidl explores the most despicable areas of the human psyche and society through his iconographic straight-on cinematography and embellished, sardonic wit . This new ‘Paradise’ trilogy promises to be absolutely sumptuous to look at, but as profoundly unsettling as his previous work. Fortunately, Seidl will be visiting the festival for several after-screening Q&A sessions, which will certainly shed more light into his dark paradise.

Harmony Lessons, dir: Emir Baigazan, Kazakhstan/Germany
The festival has barely begun, yet Kazakstan director Emir Bagazan’s feature debut is already being tipped for the coveted New Talent Grand Prix award. Another Berlinale winner, it’s a poetic effigy to turbulent school life and surrealistic classroom daydreams. Baigazan features as director, writer and editor here. With such an autonomous stronghold on the film and it’s illusory style, the young Kazakh is already being compared to the like of Terrence Malick and Gus van Sant from the other side of the pond. A talent in the making, seeing him take his first baby steps here.

Jiseul, dir: O Muel, South Korea
Winning coveted awards at both Sundance and the Pusan Film Festival, O Muel’s take on communist tension in 1950s South Korea is unmissable. Filmed in gushingly beautiful black and white, O Muel uses factual recordings of horrific events involving the army and pacifistic protestors to paint an ornate commentary on what his ancestors experienced sixty years ago, and how the country has changed democratically for the good. For fans of The Act of the Killing (my favourite film of 2012).

Northwest, dir: Michael Noer, Denmark
What better way to round up out selection of the best CPH PIX Film Festival has to offer than highlighting a homegrown talent? His first solo director credit (prison movie ‘R‘ work with Tobias Lindholm was particularly excellent) Michael Noer’s Northwest is a gangster drama like no other. Set in the ‘Nordvest’ neighborhood, Noer uses his former documentarian prowess by casting non-actors who have grown up in the notorious, ghettoised neighbourhood that this film takes it’s name from (and where I used to live). Noer will be popping up at the screenings to answer questions and shed some mob mentality insight, probably.

That’s it! Follow me on Twitter for daily updates from the festival, and be sure to visit the CPH PIX website to get your hands on some tickets and the English language program. Turrah.

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