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L’Alternativa Film Festival: Jury report Don Quixote Jury

Report by Francisco Javier Fernández Pérez of the Martorell Devil’s Cineclub from his career as an international cinematographer at the Festival L’Alternativa

The 29th edition of the Barcelona Independent Film Festival, L’Alternativa, was held from November 18 to December 4 2022, taking as its main venues the Theater, the Auditorium and the CCCB Hall, but also with screenings in other venues such as the Filmoteca de Catalunya and the cinema Zumzeig.

In this year’s edition, the juries of the FICC Quixote Prize have been:

– Tiziana Spadaro, from Italy, director of the Versi di Luce International Film and Poetry Festival and currently vice president of the Italian Federation of Cinematographic Societies.

– Martha Otte, from Norway, former director of the Troms’ International Film Festival

– And myself, Francisco Fernández, representing the Catalan Federation of Cineclubs, member of the Martorell Devil’s Cineclub.

The three juries watched all the films of the International Feature Films in competition. In addition, thanks to the excellent assistance of the organisation, we have been able to enjoy another large number of parallel activities such as the classes given by Andrés Duque and Albert Serra, the workshops and professional debates or the out-of-contest screenings.

Before we give way to the viewings, both mine and my two jury partners would like to thank you for the treatment you have received throughout the festival. The great magnitude of this edition would be unintelligible without the people involved in our everyday lives. On L’Artenativa team: Tess Renaudo, Cristina Riera, Marc Vaíllo, Pere Sastre, Patricia Sánchez, Alex Gil, Sesi Bergeret, Andrea Bravo, etc. To the volunteer corps, the Terracccita personnel, the security team, Ivan Guarnizo, Margot Mecca and Tony Junyent, among many others. I apologise, in advance, to the people with whom I have shared a table, a word about cinema or a cigar and are not present in the mentions. Thank you for the heat and attention.

Throughout this edition we have rediscovered the potential of the archive in building a collective memory beyond the official channels, see Poletje ’91 of Žiga Virc, on the history(s) that hides Slovenian independence in the late 20th century. Similarly, in Another Spring, Mladen Kovacevic will use the slowing-down in his images and the distortion of his sounds to lead to post-COVID contemporaneity in the terrifying story of the last outbreak of smallpox in Yugoslavia. We see, driven by the East winds, as the reality, in this past case, (1) remains a very powerful machine to generate new fictions about the past.

Another of the keystones of the festival was the ecological question, especially the way in which man faces his waste. In Geographies of Solitude, Jacquely Mills combines political action (from waste) with film practice. With the only company of naturalist Zoe Lucas, the Canadian filmmaker departs for the same purpose as her fellow researcher, years ago: cataloguing all creatures and ways of life on the island of Sabre. Printing celluloid film different materials extracted from the island territory (marine vegetation, stellar light, plastic products), Mills gains an omniscient view of this small parcel of the universe, leaving the viewer with impossible pictures. The microscopic look of Geographies of Solitude is in conflict with the great trip Nikolaus Geyrhalter is taking to landfill sites around the world in Matter Out of Place. The great panorama that opens up the film gives way to the general plan that reveals the garbage that populates the landscape, just as, on certain occasions, one takes a hand from the close-up to bring to the fore the horror that escapes the overall perception of the mosaic. Geyrhalter’s device is part of the presentation of unusual situations, inexhaustible in the internal movement of his shots, as is the case with the truck floating over the snow, or the group’s gag of volunteers combing up the desert in search of waste. We see again, as through reality, present, (2) the surreal images pop up to synthesize all the intuitions of the documentary.

One of the great surprises of the festival was Une vie comme une autre, the family miracle built over seven years by Faustine Cros. Home cinema escape star, which seeks to exorcise the empty look of a mother and search for an alternative space to that proposed by the filming father. Wandering through a delicate loose rope in which she is rammed by both maternal and paternal forces, the filmmaker, however, avoids falling into the network of sentences. Finally, and out of competition, I would like to acknowledge the work of Santiago Fillol and his team in Matadero, a film of eras, a hollow eddy filtering through which they filter the pulsions and energies of the 1970s.

Thus, the jury of the Don Quixote Prize of the 29th edition of L’Alternativa, meeting on 24 November 2022, unanimously agreed to award the Don Quixote Prize for International Feature Film in:

Geographies of Solitude, by Jacquelyn Mills (Canada). Jury statements during award speech: “This encounter of an inquisitive and diligent filmmaker with a firm and determined environmentalist is a cinematic revelation capable of transforming the young and the not so young audience”.

In turn, the jury decided to grant a special mention to: Une vie comme une autre, by Faustine Cros (Belgium). Jury statements during award speech: “For his ability to lighten the weight of a powerful family drama”.

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This entry was posted on December 19, 2022 by in Uncategorized and tagged , .

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