Tallinn completes Official Section

19 international films to compete in total

by Amber Wilkinson

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) has announced 11 additional titles for its Official Selection, taking the number of films in its international competition to 19 (read about the previously announced titles here.

Among the titles announced is Indian filmmaker's Rajat Kapoor's Kadakh. It could be considered a controversial choice as he has been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour by three women. The film was dropped by Mumbai Film Festival as a result.

Three of the additional films will be world premieres - Still River, a Greek-French-Latvian production directed by Angelos Frantzis, Portguese director Vicente Alves do Ó's Sunburn and Australian film Slam, directed by Indian-born filmmaker Partho Sen Gupta. It marks the first time an Australian film has featured in competition

There are a further three European films, German director Josef Bierbichler's Two Men In Suits, Romanian Paul Negoescu's The Story Of A Summer Of Love and Polish film Werewolf, directed by Adrian Panek. Asia will be represnted by Sri Lankan film Asandhimitta, directed by Asoka Handagama, Iran thriller Sheeple, by Hooman Seyedi, Winter's Night by South Korean Woo-jin Jang. The festival's opening film Awaken, will also compete.

Festival director and head of programme Tiina Lokk commented on the selection: “For me, the line-up offers contentment in terms artistic quality, geographic representation and genre diversity, expressing quite nicely what has always been our mission - to connect great auteurs from different backgrounds and with unique visions. Also, it is an utmost pleasure to welcome filmmakers from so many new countries in the Official Selection.”

When the first of the claims surfaced about Kapoor earlier in the month, hetweeted an apology. He wrote: “All my life I have tried to be a decent man, to do the right thing. If however, I have slipped and through my actions or words caused pain or hurt or trauma to absolutely anybody, please accept my apology.

"I am sorry from the bottom of my heart- and sad that I was the cause of this hurt to another human being. If there is one thing more important to me than even my work, it is to be a good human being. And I have tried to be that person.And now, I will try harder."

She went on to make a statement concerning the inclusion of Kapoor. She said: “We are fully supporting Mumbai in their decision to exclude Mr Kapoor’s film from their programme as a result of the surfaced accusations. We are also supporting all the victims of sexual misconduct in any country or situation, male or female, not only those brought to light by the MeToo movement. And equally, we fully condemn the perpetrators, who we believe should undergo a legitimate trial and be punished accordingly.

“But the case in question, from as much as we know, has for now reached a conclusion with a clear apology by Mr Kapoor. If the allegations are true, his behaviour was certainly not a nice way for anyone to act and should not be tolerated by anybody. However, in its present state, based on all the information I have learned from the media sources, I don’t see enough reasons to pull his film out of the programme and help end the journey of the film or support declaring him a total persona non grata."

The additional films are below (synopses provided by the festival):

Asandhimitta, Sri Lanka, 2018, director Asoka Handagama Offering a captivating cinematic puzzle rich in psychoanalytical traits, the film follows a film director who receives a call from a former classmate, telling him a fragmented story how she has been involved in a triple homicide and is now waiting for her fate in a local prison.

Kadakh, India, 2018, Director Rajat Kapoor Offering a drama comedy with a dark premise - a suicide - Kadakh is a satirical portrait of the carelessness of urban upper class Indians. The arrogant yuppie Sunil and his wife must deal with a dead body of Sunil’s lover’s husband, who ends his life in their apartment right before Divali, the biggest Hindu celebration, is about to kick off at their place.

Sheeple (Maghzhaye Koochake Zang Zadeh), Iran, 2018, director Hooman Seyedi The narrative of this action drama follows two brothers on the criminal path - the meth lab gang leader Shakoor and the softer younger brother Shahin - unhappy about being number two but unable to find the backbone to grow into his shoes.

Slam, Australia, 2018, director Partho Sen-Gupta Ricky, a young Arab Australian whose peaceful suburban life is turned on its head when his sister Ameena disappears without a trace. In a climate of distrust and xenophobia, she, a politically active outspoken word artist, is soon suspected of having joined the ranks of ISIS in Syria. Slam offers an engaging multi-perspective on life in a post-facts world in a 24-hour media cycle spin.

Still River (Akinito Potami) , Greece, France, Latvia, 2018, director Angelos Frantzis Anna and Petros, a Greek couple who recently moved to an industrial Siberian town on account of Petros’ work, are shocked to discover Anna is pregnant with no prior intercourse. Looking for a logical explanation to their situation, Petros starts distrusting Anna, who chooses to embrace the pregnancy, turning to religion to cope. Set against the striking frozen landscapes of Siberia, Still River is a haunting, touching suspense drama about the conflict of the rational and the spiritual.

Sunburn (Un Golpe De Sol), Portugal, 2018, director Vicente Alves do Ó Set in a posh rental villa on a scorchingly hot summer day, Sunburn is a stylishly shot tale about four friends waiting for a fifth. As the day passes, we learn through dramatic encounters about a complex web of relations between them, with the mysterious David in the centre, who has left an unforgettable emotional impact on all of the others in the past.

The Story Of A Summer Lover (Povestea unui pierde-vara), Romania, 2018, director Paul Negoescu Approaching his subjects with Woody-Allen-like tongue-in-cheek humour and lightness, Romanian director Paul Negocescu in his third film follows Petru, a maths professor experiencing a mid-life crisis, preparing to leave Irina with whom he is in an open relationship. His perspective will see a radical shift when he finds out that she is pregnant.

Two Men In Suits (Zwei Herren im Anzug), Germany, 2018, director Josef Bierbichler Set in Bavaria during the summer of 1984, an embittered father and his estranged son are staying behind after the guests of the funeral of their wife and mother leave. The father, having never felt a connection with his son, decides to tell his life story and his perspective on the shattering epochs of the 21st century in the German history he has witnessed. The son responds with his own version of the events and together they bring their individual and shared moments back to life.

Werewolf (Wilkołak), Poland, 2018, director Adrian Panek Creating stark metaphors for the traumas of World World II and the Holocaust, director Adrian Panek’s thriller follows eight children who have escaped from a concentration camp during the aftermath of the war, hiding in a secluded villa from the bloodthirsty hounds that have been released by the SS officers before retreat.

Winter’s Night, South Korea, 2018, Director Woo-jin Jang A middle-age couple, Eun-ju and Heung-ju, visit an old temple 30 years after having spent their first night there together. On their way leaving the place, Eun-ju discovers she has lost her phone and decides to return there alone. As the night goes on, the couple’s sleepless winter night turns into roaming around the temple, encountering several friends from the past, and a young couple who are very much like Eun-ju and Heung-ju 30 years ago.

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