Jan 17, 2024
Songs of Violence and Love
The Generation 14plus competition opens with the world premiere of Sasha Nathwani's feature film debut Last Swim, which revolves around one day and night in the life of a young British-Iranian woman on the verge of completing her A-levels. While awaiting the results of her exams, the ambitious teenager grapples with the consequences of a life-changing diagnosis. The film combines an authentic look at contemporary London with the portrait of a young woman who must reassess her dreams and relationships.
The opening film for the 2024 edition of Generation Kplus is Sieger Sein (Winners) by Soleen Yusef. Brimming with wit and charm, the director's second fiction feature follows an eleven-year-old Kurdish refugee girl with a passion for football as she negotiates her complicated everyday school life in Berlin's Wedding district. The two opening films share an unflinching attitude to facing challenges and trauma, but also a hopeful energy and desire to celebrate life in all its fragility.
“In light of the conditions we find across the world today – which appear catastrophic from the perspective of young people, and not only to them – the question as to what cinema can be as art and social space repeatedly arises. This programme is our attempt to formulate an answer: films that expose the cracks that run through our world and make them graspable, films that come up with forms to make things visible and expressible, films that invent images which could become the material with which some of these cracks might be repaired,” as section head Sebastian Markt comments.
In the documentary Maydegol, Sarvnaz Alambeigi accompanies a kickboxer who fled to Iran from her native Afghanistan. With an empathetic, respectful gaze, Alambeigi creates a portrait of a young woman who shows astounding resilience, whether in the private setting of her family or in her wider surroundings, never tiring of the struggle for her independence, while providing a revealing look at contemporary Iran in the process.
The space that two young women, still haunted by the aftereffects of serious illness, create for themselves and one another in Quell’estate con Irène (My Summer with Irène) is of a different type. With a narrative characterised by intimate connection to nature and wounded bodies, Carlo Sironi's film intertwines the precise depiction of the two survivors' relationship with metaphorical openness.
Two films in the programme propose visions for coming-of-age narratives that are emphatically queer in spirit. From the Philippine periphery, Ryan Machado's Huling Palabas (Fin) tells the story of a young cinephile in search of his father, who instead first encounters two young men and the tiny queer scene in his town, unleashing the unpredictable forces of desire. In Anthony Schatteman's feature film debut Young Hearts, 13-year-old Elias falls in love with his new neighbour but must first find his way to himself before he can figure out how to express his unforeseen feelings.
Reinas, from Swiss director Klaudia Reynicke, takes viewers back to Peru in the year 1992, a period wracked by crises. Reynicke uses the story of two sisters caught in the midst of a precarious social situation to create a multi-layered, autobiographically inspired portrait of a particular moment within a family, in which the political landscape is not the only thing undergoing radical change.
Also set in Peru, Franco García Becerra's Raíz (Through Rocks and Clouds) tells the story of eight-year-old alpaca herder Feliciano. Amid mountains and rivers, hewing close to the boy's own point-of-view, the film portrays the struggle of the Indigenous community against a destructive mining company, while all involved simultaneously root for Peru to qualify for the World Cup.
Xiao Ban Jie (The Great Phuket) is a district in a Southern Chinese city and the setting of Yaonan Liu's debut film, an elegant mixture of social reality and the fantasy life of a teenager, captured in animated sequences. Amid ruins and construction sites, Li Xing discovers a secret, mysterious bunker that provides a safe haven from a world undergoing rapid transformation.
In Kim Hye-young's brilliant dance drama It’s Okay!, an unlikely relationship takes shape between a feisty orphaned student and a rigid headmistress. Both women are preoccupied with processing their individual wounds, until they unanimously, almost imperceptibly begin to exude a sense that things are going to be alright.
Nine additional films round out the short film competitions and open up a vast field of multifarious cinematic forms that tell of confrontation with the powers of history and private moments of self-invention.
In Papillon (Butterfly), an animation created with oil-paintings on glass, Florence Miailhe conjures transitions between history, memory and the present moment, in a meditation on the life of a Jewish swimmer who stands his ground in the face of Nazi terror and violence.
Hadi Babaeifar (Gavazn, Generation Kplus 2022) returns to Berlin with a new film. At the centre of the haunting images of Goosfand (Sheep) stands a young girl in Tehran who begins to doubt the wisdom of tradition when confronted with an upcoming celebration. A grandmother's death alters the atmosphere in a family home, as a five-year-old has a liminal experience in the Indian short film Anaar Daana (Sour Candy). Uli tells of a chance encounter which inspires a new sense of freedom for the protagonist, as gender certainties vanish. There is little room for grieving following a death within a Cuban volleyball team, though Un Pájaro Voló (A Bird Flew) manages to create a very unique filmic space for it all the same. On the margins of a Chinese metropole, a boy comes up with a plan to start secondary school with a new style and ends up leaving more than just hair behind: A Summer’s End Poem. When it comes to anxiety and self-discovery in unusual places, the Indian animation The Girl Who Lived in the Loo also knows how to sing an original visual tune. In the scorching heat of Veracruz, a romantic comedy unfolds among ten-year-olds in Aguacurario. On a no less torrid summer evening in Belgium, Clemént plots to lose his virginity, but, alas, his Grindr date doesn't play out as planned: Un invincible été (Invincible Summer) - a queer coming-of-age miniature situated between desire and care. Finally, in Nepal a radio host loses touch with the world; messages shared from off-screen combine to form a multi-layered essay on love and its conditions: Songs of Love and Hate.
The 2024 programme for Generation encompasses 34 works, including seven debut films and 24 world premieres.
January 17, 2024