The festival through the eyes of Norwegian jury member Jon Gisle
It was a very successful Euro Filmfestival at the beginning of October. I can't remember any other festival that was so well attended and had such a high standard of the best films. The only thing Wolfgang Thomas and his competent team couldn't control was the weather. On the day of our arrival, there was a storm in Northern Germany, which could not prevent our landing but had paralyzed public transport. Thanks to Georg Brand, who picked us up at the main station and steered us through the rush hour, we reached our destination on time.
This year I had the honour to be a member of the jury and therefore I had seen all films in a three-day marathon in Georg's private cinema. My impression is that we had a wider range of themes than at previous festivals, with more action-packed films and exciting documentaries and travelogues.
It is impossible to do justice to all the films here, which is why I concentrate on a few.
France has not traditionally been one of the dominant countries at Euro Filmfestivals. This year there was only one French film, but it became the festival winner! The title of the film was "Frigomania", and the author was Emmanuel Dubois. It is an elegant (in my opinion very French) satire about modern consumer culture. During an extremely hot period in France, an old man's refrigerator collapses. It can no longer be repaired, but through a special offer the protagonist can buy a new one at a reasonable price. Things start to develop, and in his modestly small apartment, refrigerators begin to appear until the apartment is crammed full.
I don't want to go into the details, but the whole story is so logical that it could have happened credibly in real life. And finally, this movie had some of the best amateur actors I've ever seen.
Harald Scholz was the winner of the Golden Band last year, and this time he was again very close to it. Scholz does everything himself, both in front of and behind the camera. He plays all the roles in his film and appears more than thirty times at the same time. Don't ask me how he does it; some crazy green screen techniques and a lot of patience... he's also a good actor. This year's film is a harsh critique of modern society, in whose future dictators will not only control people's lives, but also their deaths. Harald Scholz' film is a political, anti-American film; or should we simply say: an anti-Trump film. It is a very entertaining but also very serious movie.
The jury had to decide between the Austrian firecracker Scholz and the elegant Frenchman Dubois. We chose Dubois, but there was very little in it.
A film that made a special impression on me was The Golden Mountain by Urs Schadegg from Switzerland, who travelled a lot as an adventurer in Indonesia. One of his travels took him to a gold mine in Mindanao. The mine is a hell of a place. For some, it's big business; they own the gold mines. For the miners it is hard, dangerous and badly paid work. They are lowered through deep shafts into the tunnels, where they work their way through the gold-bearing soil from morning to night. They dream of the great gold find for which they will get well paid.
The film gives a powerful impression of the situation on site, especially as Schadegg let himself be lowered down to the depths and spent a few hours there in the galleries. This guy's not claustrophobic!
I would like to mention another film that came third in the competition. During the judging in August, Frank Lauter's documentary was the first film on the second day. After the screening we were wide awake for the rest of the day! On the one hand the movie was excellent, but what woke us up was the sound of the very talkative frogs. An excellent film!
This year there were seven gold medallists. One might think that this is too much; five would have done it. But the scoring system gave us seven gold medals (or golden apples) and as a member of the jury I don't regret it.
Three films from my own country, Norway, were at the festival. We don't have that many films since we had our own film forum in Oslo. Norway will be back next year. See you in Bludenz....