Volume 23, Issue 11 / November 2019

Film Festival Round-Up

As I write this many months after the issue date, I am in the throes of the new COVID-19 ‘reality’, where one’s four walls are more familiar than ever. Switching to online teaching has been a wild learning curve, with the first few weeks a bottomless pit of work, work, work. Learning new software tools and new pedagogical ideas.
Which is largely why Offscreen is a behind schedule. Another reason is the work I and my colleagues have been putting into a new website which will soon be launched as an extension of Offscreen and its sister magazine Hors Champ, Zoom Out (should be launched in a few weeks from today). Expect a flurry of Offscreen issues over the next few months as we get back closer to schedule. Getting back to COVID-19, this special issue focused all on film festivals has the whiff of nostalgia. Just the thought of spending two hours in a dark room with 700 people, for days on end, seems a pipe-dream! And living in a world of nostalgia and innocence and one’s childhood is front and center in the opening article, an interview by Pablo García Conde with Basque filmmaker Oskar Alegría about the circumstances that led to his latest film, Zumiriki (2019). In Zumiriki Alegría visits his childhood island now submerged under water, with only the ‘air’ at the tops of trees as a residue of the air he breathed there as a child. Time, memory, language, nature, are all discussed by Conde and Alegría in a fascinating interview. Conde follows this interview with a second on Ukraine-Canadian filmmaker Oksana Karpovych’s first full-length documentary Don’t Worry, The Doors Will Open (Oksana Karpovych, 2019), which showed at the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), for which she ended up receiving the award for best film in the New Visions Competition section. Here too Karpovych is on a nostalgic mission to understand the historical and cultural importance behind particular Soviet built trains, the electrichka, and the special value and meaning they hold for older generations of Ukraine people. Michael Sooriyakumaran has for years made a habit of covering for Offscreen the Wavelengths experimental programme at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), doing a fantastic job of covering the festival’s most difficult films (at least formally speaking), usually after only viewing the films once. Never an easy task when trying to process non-narrative, abstract cinema. Offscreen is lucky to have among its regular festival report contributors Gönül Dönmez-Colin, who has been covering a variety of prestigious European film festivals for many years (and has a new film book out in 2019 to boot!) The issue ends with two of her reports, the 68th Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival and the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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