Festival Director Albert Wiederspiel: »With this year's look at the two American continents, we again want to introduce two outstanding filmmakers to a broad audience. Kelly Reichardt and Pablo Larraín sometimes shoot their films with big stars, sometimes with brilliant character actors and have uncompromisingly pursued their artistic visions since their beginnings. We are thus continuing our project of presenting to our Hamburg audience two directors to our audience, ideally a woman and a man from two different continents, who in our opinion are not well known enough in Germany so far.«
Kelly Reichardt set her debut film River of Grass (USA 1994) in the state of Florida, where she herself grew up. In her work, Reichardt is interested in the precise observation of places and landscapes beyond the American metropolis. This is also the case in this film, which tells the story of a young couple who believe to have committed a murder and therefore plan to go on the run, but have no money to put their plan into practice.
Meek's Cutoff (USA 2010) also tells about a difficult journey: During a trek through the prairie in 1845, the travellers begin to doubt the abilities of their guide. Supplies are running out, the men discuss possible alternatives to the chosen path. Reichardt is paying special attention to the women in the group, including Emily, played by Michelle Williams. Between the gender roles brought along from back home and the American idea of taking one's fate into one's own hands, a change in the power relations within the group sets in.
At this year's Berlinale, Kelly Reichardt's competition entry First Cow (USA 2019) attracted a lot of attention. Set in the early 19th century, the story, like Meek's Cutoff and most of Reichardt's other films, some of which will be shown in this year's digital offering STREAMFEST HAMBURG, is set in Oregon. The laconic frontier story avoids heroic Western narratives and instead focuses on the interpersonal aspects of the settlement of the West and the characters who made the USA a melting pot of diverse identities.
In 2008 Pablo Larraín celebrated his international breakthrough with the Cannes premiere of Tony Manero (Chile 2008). The story of a serial killer with an obsession for John Travolta's main character from the 70s classic Saturday Night Fever is at once a dark character study, intense psychological thriller and an examination of the political situation in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship.
Larraín continued his exploration of the Pinochet era in the following years with the films Post Mortem (Chile, Mexico, Germany 2010) and No (Chile, France, USA 2012). In the latter, Gael García Bernal plays a successful advertising specialist who is hired by Augusto Pinochet's political opponents to develop a strategy for their »No« campaign against the government's re-election in the 1988 referendum. Dissuaded by the regime's intimidation measures and yet increasingly politicized, a movement is developing that raises hopes for a better future.
Larraín worked with Gael García Bernal again for his current film, which premiered last year in Venice. Ema (Chile 2019, release date: 22/10/2020; Koch Films/Studiocanal) is the portrait of a young dancer who separates from her partner after they return their adopted child to the shelter. Plagued by feelings of guilt and nevertheless in search of a remedy, she embarks on a dance odyssey through the Chilean port city of Valparaíso. Larraín stages her soul-searching in intense colours and powerful choreographies.
The programme will be supplemented by further films by Pablo Larraín, which will be shown at theaters and online at STREAMFEST HAMBURG.
FILMFEST HAMBURG will take place from 24 September to 3 October 2020 as a compact festival edition with around 70 films. Festival theaters are the Abaton, CinemaxX Dammtor, Metropolis, Passage and Studio-Kino. Due to the limited space in the theaters, streaming tickets will be offered for selected films.