Few films detail the immediate aftermath of conflict and occupation from World War II. Danish director-writer Martin Zandvliet’s Land of Mine exposes the untold story of Denmark’s darkest hour.
The film is set in the days following the surrender of Nazi Germany in May 1945, when German POWs held in Denmark were forced by the Allied forces to clear the millions of landmines laid by Hitler’s army. Most of these soldiers were teenagers, with minimal or no training in defusing explosives; more than half of them were killed or severely wounded in the process.
Zandvliet sheds light on this historical tragedy as the entry point to a story that involves love, hate, revenge, and reconciliation. Is it ever possible to show sympathy for those who represented the Nazi terror?
“I wanted to explore what happens to a person who loves his country as a patriot and feels a right to hate his enemy, but is put in charge of a task that conflicts with the values he thought he possessed and that his own nation represented,” Zandvliet says. ”Our sergeant protagonist is filled with the same hate that many Danes understandably had for the people who had occupied their country for five years. But he comes to doubt what he is fighting for.
“It was the Germans who laid the mines — who else should remove them? I would probably have forced them to clean up after themselves too, but I hope that I would have given them food, trained them properly so as to reduce the horrific casualties and countless fatalities and, in general, treated them with the dignity that all human beings deserve.
“The point for me is that an eye-for-an-eye mentality, so easily adopted in extreme situations like that portrayed in this movie, ultimately makes losers of us all,” says Zandvliet. – Variety
This year’s entry from Denmark in the foreign-film Oscar race, is a harrowing, intelligent, compelling and intensely suspenseful investigation of a little-known footnote to world history. – ★★★★ The Observer
The ethical tension between justice and vengeance is the subject of Martin Zandvliet’s Land of Mine, a tight and suspenseful film. – The New York Times
UNDER SANDET | Denmark, Germany 2015 | Language: Danish, German | 100 minutes | Cert: Club
Academy Award Winner, Best Foreign Language Film, 2017.
Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) returns with the 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner The Salesman, a characteristically taut drama exploring how unexpected cracks can form in the foundations of a seemingly happy marriage.
Set in modern-day Tehran, the future looks promising for amateur actors Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) as they prepare for opening night on their production of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’. However, when dangerous work on a neighbouring building forces the couple to leave their home and move into a new apartment, a case of mistaken identity sees a shocking and violent incident throw their lives into turmoil.
What follows is a series of wrong turns that threaten to destroy their relationship irreparably.
Winner of the Best Screenplay and Best Actor awards at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Farhadi’s study on the potent power of pride, guilt and shame treads the line between arresting drama and revenge thriller with masterful ease.
Flawlessly acted…Farhadi trades in the poetry of the unsaid. – ★★★★ The Irish Times
Farhadi remains a master of pace and tension, slowly upping the stakes in an unsettling narrative fuelled by a lingering sense of powerlessness, paranoia and the possibility that you never entirely know the person you love. – Screen International
Mr. Farhadi’s control is astonishing, as is the discipline of the actors. – The New York Times
The first-ever animated (stop motion) film shown by Cork Cine Club! Academy Award nominee, Best Animated Feature 2017.
“Here is a little miracle of gentleness, tenderness and intense, traditional Frenchness. It was an Oscar nominee for best animated feature earlier this year, losing out, probably unjustly, to Zootopia. The screenwriter Céline Sciamma [Girlhood] has adapted the 2002 novel Autobiography of a Courgette by Gilles Paris for this beguiling stop-motion animation. Director Claude Barras makes his feature debut.
The characters’ faces are big, almost like Charles Schulz’ Peanuts figures, and very expressive and subtle. It is the story of a little boy fond of kites who is interestingly named Icare but goes by his nickname: Courgette. A terrible accident means he is taken to a home in the country for orphaned kids, where everyone has a grim, secret story and the children’s growing awareness that no one really wants them manifests itself in all sorts of tough behaviour.
But after a rough start, Courgette makes friends with Simon and forms a tendresse for Camille. Meanwhile, the lonely, unhappy cop who dealt with Courgette’s case, Raymond, has taken a kindly interest in his continued welfare.
It is a lovely little film, coming in at a novella-size 66 minutes. I loved the home’s emotional wallchart, the Météo des Enfants, showing their mood swings from sunny to cloudy.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
‘A beautifully balanced visual marvel…full of decency and kindness’. – ★★★★★ The Irish Times
‘A frank and affecting animation about abused youngsters finding strength through solidarity… this beautifully tender and empathetic film addresses kids and adults alike in clear and compassionate tones that span – and perhaps heal – generations…only the most hard-hearted viewer could fail to love these youngsters’. – ★★★★★ The Telegraph
MA VIE DE COURGETTE |Switzerland, France, 2017 | Language: French | 70 minutes | Cert: 12A
Combines poignancy with torrents of laughter. ★★★★★ The Telegraph
Finland’s master of deadpan comedy, Aki Kaurismäki (Lights in the Dusk, Le Havre), returns with the story of an unlikely friendship between a Syrian asylum seeker and an elderly Finnish restaurant owner. Winner of the Berlin Silver Bear for Best Director, it’s a beautiful, timely film from one of the world’s leading auteurs.
Khaled (Sherwan Haji) arrives at the port of Helsinki concealed in a coal container, fleeing war-torn Syria to seek asylum in Finland. Dazed and frustrated by the monolithic administration he encounters at the detention centre, he makes a break for it and heads out onto the streets.
There he meets Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a former shirt salesman who has recently left his alcoholic wife for a new life as a bachelor restaurateur. Together, they help each other to navigate the adversities they face in these unfamiliar and often baffling new worlds.
With hilarious sight gags, poker-faced one liners and a toe-tapping rockabilly soundtrack, Kaurismäki’s latest balances his unparalleled wit with a pressing critique of the unforgiving bureaucracy that greets vulnerable asylum seekers in modern-day Europe.
Humane and sincere, it’s proof of cinema’s power to tell stories that matter, with beauty and heart.
‘Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki’s film is filled with curious oddballs, but there are also many ethical connundrums to contend with.’ – ★★★★ The Irish Times
‘Finds the artist at the height of his powers… winsome, sweet, and often very funny.’ – Indiewire
Cast: Ville Virtanen, Kati Outinen, Tommi Korpela, Sakari Kuosmanen
Director Sinéad O’Loughlin will attend and introduce her short Irish film,Homecoming, about a young man’s struggles to find his place in life after returning to Ireland. A familiar face makes him wonder if things are about to change. Her 12-minute film will be shown before the feature.
Annette Bening stars as a single mother who recruits two women to help raise her son in this warm drama set in Southern California in the late 1970s.
“Director Mike Mills follows Beginners, his Oscar-winning study of the relationship between a son and his gay father, with another picture that takes as its jumping-off point the bond between parent and child. In the case of this late 70s-set cultural odyssey, the parent is gregarious, open-minded single mother Dorothea (the superb Annette Bening) and the child is Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), the teenage son she isn’t quite sure she can guide on his path to becoming a man.
To this end, she recruits the help of two other women to help raise him. Her lodger, Abbie (Greta Gerwig), is a photographer crowd surfing on the anger and energy of the new wave scene. And Julie (Elle Fanning) is Jamie’s best friend, a sullen beauty who is casually oblivious to the fact that he is in love with her.
But the 20th century is almost as important a character as the women. Mills weaves together a tapestry of social, cultural and political strands. In part of the extensive voiceover, delivered predominantly by Dorothea and Jamie, the boy talks of his last memory of his absent father – a birthday in 1974 – which deftly links mid-70s fashion trends (mirrored sunglasses) with news events (President Gerald Ford’s historic tumble down the steps of Air Force One) and with vomit on a carpet.
Mills makes reference to the experimental documentary Koyaanisqatsi with accelerated clips of teeming southern California life; he even includes a clip of Koyaanisqatsi itself to emphasise the parallel. Dorothea’s 1940s jazz rubs shoulders with Talking Heads and Black Flag; still photography mood boards give way to psyched-out, colour-saturated “film burn” effects, which nod to the California hippie hotbed that spawned the film’s other key character, William (Billy Crudup). There’s a certain arch self-awareness in the screenwriting that won’t appeal to everyone, but I loved the film for its scrapbook structure, its warmth and candour.” – Wendy Ide, The Guardian
Season 17 concludes with our ‘bonus’ 11th film, the Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, A Man Called Ove. It’s one of the feel-good films of 2017, and well-timed for the start of the Christmas season.
Ove (Rolf Lassgård) is a retiree struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife – a struggle that he angrily takes out on his neighbours by strictly enforcing the estate rules. Ove’s world is unexpectedly turned upside down when a young family move in next door. Despite his initial resistance, Ove slowly forms a bond with his new neighbours and discovers a whole new side of life.
Based on the best-selling novel by Fredrik Backman [translated into more than 40 languages], this Swedish hit is a bittersweet but charming tale of one man rediscovering himself after a devastating tragedy. Darkly comic but sensitively told, this is a true crowd-pleaser held together by a remarkable lead performance.