The week belongs to Ana Hintz’s excellent documentary, which won the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, but also to the French-Vietnamese Tran An Hung’s film, which, returning after a 7-year absence, respectively won the Directing Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival
The Fraternity of the Smoking Sauna
(Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, Estonia, France, Iceland, 2023, 90′)
● Directed by: Ana Hintz
Ana Hintz’s documentary, which won the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, is an excellent example of the genre that, in its simplicity, manages to touch on issues concerning the position of women in society and how they affect her throughout her life.
In the dark, humid, heat-filled environment of the sauna, women of different ages and personalities share personal experiences. Hinds manages within this environment to highlight the intimacy that develops between the women by giving them space to narrate moments from their lives, connecting the viewer with them and making them feel part of the sauna environment.
The women’s conversations vary, whether they are talking casually and joking with each other, or talking about serious issues such as sexual abuse or abortion. They narrate their experiences discovering common experiences, each revealing a part of her life, giving us an insight into Estonian society and the position of women within it.
Hinds does not dwell on women’s faces, with her camera she approaches the female body and with the help of Ants Tamic’s wonderful photography she highlights it without pretense, recording it as it is, with its flaws, giving us the feeling of the body reacting in what he “narrates” and in what he hears. The bodies of the protagonists react to the heat of the sauna, they sweat, and their memories and experiences “flow” from the pores. Through this ritual comes the personal purification of each one who can fearlessly, in a safe environment, confide their secrets.
Through the testimonies, a reflection emerges regarding the shared experiences of the viewers with women. This identification proves that the position of women, their exploitation and their treatment do not differ that much from society to society. The women speaking in the documentary could be from any country, as many of their experiences remain common.
In the fire (La Passion de Dodin Bouffant, France, 2023, 134′)
● Directed by: Tran An Hung
● Actors: Benoit Mazimel, Juliette Binoche
Franco-Vietnamese Tran An Hung, director of The Scent of Green Papaya (the only Vietnamese film nominated for an Oscar to date), returns to the big screen after a seven-year absence with a film that, based on the legendary novel La vie et la passion de Dodin-Bouffant, glorifying cooking and love, won the Directing Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and premiered in Greece at the opening of the 64th Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
With wonderful photography and scenery, it takes us on a journey to France in 1885, where the talented cook Ezenie (Jilliette Binoche) works for the famous Dodin (Benoit Massimelle), a lover of haute cuisine for twenty years. Through this long-term collaboration, a love is born.
Hung, with a solid direction, guides his excellent protagonists by enchanting the viewer with the Belle Epoque atmosphere, using cooking, the preparation of a beautiful dish, as an excuse to tell a story of love, mutual respect, but also the need for Ezeni to love and be loved on equal terms and to be an independent woman, without living in Doden’s shadow.
A sensitive film, which fascinates the viewer from the first minute and is a pleasure to watch.
Little Nicholas: What are we waiting for to be happy?
(Le Petit Nicolas: Qu’est-ce qu’on Attend Pour Etre Heureux?, France, 2022, 82′)
● Directed by: Amandine Fredon, Benjamin Masoubr
● Actors: Alain Saba, Laurent Lafitte, Simon Faliu
Brilliantly combining the classic children’s book series with a sensitive screenplay, Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Masoubr’s film brings Little Nicholas to life through the pages of newspapers to chat with his famous creators, Jacques Sebet and René Gossini, learning about their acquaintance, friendship and childhood. Touching, with humor, a film ideal for children. It is shown with Greek dubbing.
Arte Povera (Greece, 2023, 90′)
● Directed by: Fotis Georgiadis
A documentary that captures the process of creating the eponymous music album “Arte Povera”, which was directed and produced by Beats Pliz (aka Fotis Georgiadis)
A mother takes revenge
(The Good Mother, USA, 2023, 90′)
● Directed by Miles Joris Perafit
● Actors: Hilary Swank, Olivia Cooke, Jack Reno, Dilone, Hopper Penn, Norm Lewis
After her estranged son is murdered, a reporter (Hilary Swank) teams up with his pregnant girlfriend (Olivia Cooke) to track down those responsible for his death.
American Carnage (USA, 2022, 101′)
● Directed by: Diego Halivis
● Actors: Jenna Ortega, Jorge Ledeborg Jr
A governor issues an executive order to arrest the children of undocumented immigrants. The children are offered the alternative to avoid prison: to volunteer to help the elderly in a nursing home. But strange things happen at the nursing home…
The Marvels (USA, 2023, 105′)
● Directed by: Nia DaCosta
● Actors: Brie Larson, Tejonah Paris, Iman Velani
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) joins forces with her biggest fan, Kamala Kahn, and together with her niece, Captain Monica Rambo, will try to save the universe. Another Marvel film that does not differentiate itself from the rest, with an expected script and handling direction.
The Royal Hotel (Australia, 2023, 91′)
● Directed by: Kitty Green
● Actors: Julia Garner, Jessica Henwick, Hugo Weaving
Two best friends, Hannah (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick), traveling in Australia, take a temporary job at a hotel bar in an isolated town. But when the jokes and behavior of the patrons cross the line, the two girls will find themselves trapped in a disturbing situation that is increasingly out of their control. Cathy Green tries to make a film with social commentary by creating a thriller atmosphere, but fails miserably at both. She ends up closing her film with a scriptedly gratuitous ending.