MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina – Huseyin Karabey’s “Come to My Voice” topped the 29th Mar del Plata Fest on Saturday night, winning the Golden Astor for best film in International Competition. Karabey accepted the award from Paul Schrader, International Competition president.
Elsewhere, top plaudits in major sections had the virtue of shining a light on titles that threaten, like “Voice,” to be lost in the big festival title surfeit at a festival which, with hiked attendance, classy international guest master classes, federal government backing, stable management and dates pushed back to just before Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur, has laid the foundations for further growth in the future.
Framed in a bard’s song and set in a Kurdish village, “Voice” tells a Kafkaesque tale of an ageing woman and young granddaughter forced to come up wuth non-existent guns that they can turn into Turkish authorities in the hope of freeing the young girl’s imprisoned father.
A “beautifully crafted drama whose traditional storytelling movingly conveys a sense of a community burdened by loss,” Jay Weissberg wrote in his Berlinale review of “Voice,” “making full use of the stunning landscape near Lake Van, in southeastern Turkey, sophomore helmer Huseyin Karabey’s follow-up to “My Marlon and Brando” is sure to achieve prominence at other fests. Indeed, “Voice” went on to win at the Istanbul and Milan fests. But its Golden Astor is welcome further lime-lighting.
Far less known – it has yet to hit IMDb – and again deserving much more recognition, Brazilian docu filmmaker Adirley Querois’ first play at fiction, “White Out, Black In,” which world preemed at Brasilia’s Festival of Brazilian Film and may be on the way to cult status, mixes documentary, fiction and, yes, time travel, as two real-life victims of police racist violence fight back.
Another fiction-docu hybrid, Mariano Gelperin’s “Su Realidad,” a portrait of Argentine rock-tango musician Daniel Melingo that enthralled fest auds with its playful verve, music and imagery, won best film in Mar del Plata’s Argentina Competition, the fest’s third major section.
Better-known titles swept other major International Competition kudos: Mathieu Almalric’s “The Blue Room,” a George Simenon mystery novella makeover, won for director. A three-hour epic from Park Jung-bum (“The Journals of Musan”), “Alive” (like “Voice,” a now talked-up sophomore outing), built around a laborer’s struggle to make ends meet, won actor for Jung-bum himself, who played the lead.
The first feature film of Iran’s Nima Javidi, “Melbourne,” a domestic thriller about a couple whose efforts to leave Iran are frustrated by a tragic event that they try to keep hidden, nabbed actress for Negar Jevaharian, playing a young wife to “A Separation” lead Peyman Moaadi.
Mar del Plata needs prizes to make some sense of the 400 movies on display, especially potential new Argentina and Latin American standouts. With 18 organizations announcing often several non-official prizes, even that it none too easy.
Mar del Plata’s Work in Progress winner was “Soley,” but runners up “Veredas” and “Madres de Dioses” had fans, as did Ana Piterbarg’s “Alptraum” and Daniel Rosenfeld’s “To the Center of the Earth,” also competing at Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte.
Of multiple kudos winners, Dario Doria’s b/w docu “Rural Health,” the diary portrait of a gentle rural doctor in Argentina’s Santa Fe province, took a special mention in Argentina Competition, a Fox prize for best Argentine film in any section, and an Argentores screenplay plaudit for scribe Luis Camardella. A buzzed-up title in Argentina Competition, Leonardo D’Antoni’s “Aventurera,” the tale of an actress on the make, took a best director plaudit for the Argentine Film Directors (DAC) assn.
Spreading the plaudits yet further, “Necropolis Symphony,” a comedic cemetery-set musical from Brazil’s Juliana Rojas who leapt to prominence co-helming the Dezenove-produced Cannes 2011 Un Certain Regard player “Hard Labor,” scooped the Intl. Federation of Film Critics’ (FIPRESCI) nod for best film in the Latin American Competition. With music by Dutra, “Symphony” also satirizes now rampant real-estate speculation in Brazil, Rojas said, via a dastardly plan to buy up old cemetery plots at a cut-price then sell them for a mark-up for new burials.
Uruguayan Alvaro Brechner’s tale of a modern day Quijote, “Mr. Kaplan,” scored a prize from the Argentine Film Industry Union (SICA). Chilean Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ skeptical vengeance thriller “To Kill a Man”; Colombia Franco Lolli’s “Gente de bien,” a class divide chronicle; aged couple portrait “Not All Is Vigil,” from Spaniard Hermes Paralluelo; and Brazilian Gabriel Mascaro’s resonant coastal village-set “August Winds,” yet another film which straddles the fiction-documentary ivied, were all recognized at Saturday’s prize ceremony.
At the closing night gala, Lucrecia Cardoso, president of the Argentina’s INCAA film-TV agency, announced that fest attendance rose this year to around 130,000.
Fest No. 1 star, Viggo Mortensen, attended to talk up Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja.”
Further highlights included master classes by France’s Claire Denis, Spain’s Carlos Vermut and Nacho Vigalondo — a hilarious but telling personal account of trends in Spanish filmmaking — and from Schrader, laced by bracing honesty and an articulate analysis of current tectonic shifts in the U.S. movie business.
A popular summit locale, Mar del Plata hosted Argentina’s Encuentro de Comunicacion Audiovisual (ECA), an annual meet that debates the future of Argentina’s film/TV biz; and a meeting of Mercosur communication/culture ministers.
Well-known industry figures in town included producers Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievsky, Matias Mosteirin, Juan Villegas, Mariel Guiot and Pablo Ratto; sales agent Sandro Fiorin; distributor Bernardo Zupnik; and San Sebastian Fest director Jose Luis Rebordinos. With Mar del Plata’s Work in Progress, won by Manuel Abramovich’s docu of a docu “Soley,” taking place only three days before Ventana Sur, their number looks set to rise.
OFFICIAL WINNERS, 29TH MAR DEL PLATA INTL. FILM FESTIVAL, NOV. 22-30
“Come To My Voice,” (Huseyin Karabey, Turkey, Germany, France)
“The Blue Room,” (Mathieu Almaric, France)
Negar Javaherian, (“Melbourne,” Iran)
Park Jung-bum (“Alive,” South Korea)
Alice Rohrwacher (“The Wonders,” Italy-Switzerland-Germany)
SPECIAL MENTION, CINEMATOGRAPHY
Leonardo Simoes, Pedro Costa (“Horse Money,” Portugal)
LATIN AMERICA COMPETITION
“White Out, Black In,” (Adirley Queiros, Brazil)
“Su Realidad,” (Mariano Galperin)
Adrian Biniez (“El 5 de Talleres”)
“Rural Health,” (Dario Doria)
WORK IN PROGRESS
“Soley,” (Mario Abramovich)
FIRST SPECIAL MENTION
“Veredas,” (Ferando Cricenti)
SECOND SPECIAL MENTION
“Madres de los Dioses,” (Pablo Aguero)
ARGENTINE FILM DIRECTORS’ PRIZE
Leonardo D’Antoni, (“Aventurera”)
FOX BEST ARGENTINE FILM AWARD
“Rural Health,” (Dario Doria)
ARGENTORES BEST ARGENTINE SCREENPLAY PRIZE
Luis Camardella, (“Rural Health”)
SAGAI BEST ARGENTINE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE ACTOR
German de Silva, (“The Boss”)
SAGAI BEST ARGENTINE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE ACTRESS
Sofia Brito, (“El Hijo Buscado”)
VENTANA SUR OPEN VEINS BEST PICTURE AWARD
“Tejen,” (Pablo Rabe, Argentina)
RECAM MERCOSUR AUDIOVISUAL PRIZE
“To Kill a Man,” (Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, Chile)
FEISAL UNDER-35 BEST PICTURE AWARD
“Gente de Bien,” (Franco Lolli, Colombia)
FIPRESCI BEST PICTURE AWARD
“Necropolis Symphony,” (Juliana Rojas, Brazil)
SIGNIS AWARD INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION
“Not All is Vigil,” (Hermes Paralluelo, Spain, Colombia)