Quality and Diversity in The Competing Films – II

Ten feature films of a variety of topics and origins are in competition for the top IFFAM Award 2017. They will be shown in Macau venues – from December 9 to 13 – as Asian or international premieres. In this second supplement, MDT presents the remaining four competing movies

The Cakemaker

Israeli-German production The Cakemaker tells the story of Thomas, a young German baker who runs a popular pastry shop in Berlin and having a quiet affair with Oren, a married man from Israel who frequently visits Germany on business trips. When Oren dies in a car crash, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers. He begins working for his late lover’s widow, Anat, who owns a small café in the city. As his traditional cakes and cookies draw more crowds to the café, Thomas finds himself more deeply embroiled in Anat’s life than he ever expected.

Israeli filmmaker Ofir Raul Graizer shuttles between Israel and Germany. After trying his hand at professions as diverse as textiles and the culinary arts, he studied film at Sapir College in Sderot in southern Israel. After graduating, he co-directed the short film La Discotheque, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The Cakemaker, which he wrote and directed, is his first feature film. It had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czech Republic in June, where it won the Ecumenical Jury Award.

Leading man Tim Kalkhof was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany who previously starred in Nur nicht aufregen! (2016) and Wir sind die Flut (2016). Kalkhof studied acting at the Academy of Performing Arts Baden Württemberg before getting his big break with a TV movie in 2012. Starring opposite him is Israeli-French actress Sarah Adler. The Parisian actress is known for Jellyfish (2007), Notre musique (2004) and Marie Antoinette (2006). She was nominated for the 2004 European Film Awards and 2007 Ophir Awards. Catch Adler again in Foxtrot (2017), which is also playing at IFFAM.

The Hungry

This modern-day take on one of William Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays, Titus Andronicus, is set among the wealthy elite families and business empires of northern India. The film revolves around Tulsi Joshi, a widow whose son is discovered dead just before his upcoming marriage into the prominent Ahuja family. The death appears to be a suicide, but his mother believes it is murder. Two years later, Tulsi herself is now about to marry an Ahuja, but she has not forgotten her quest for revenge.

Bornila Chatterjee is a writer and filmmaker who divides her time between Brooklyn, USA, and Calcutta, India. Her first feature film Let’s Be Out, The Sun Is Shining premiered at the 2012 New York Indian Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award. She is a 2014 fellow of the Sundance Institute/Mumbai Mantra Screenwriters Lab and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The Hungry is her second feature film and premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

Tulsi Joshi is played by Tisca Chopra, a leading Indian actress, best-selling author and film producer who has worked with eminent directors on more than 45 feature films. She is a prominent activist and has worked with several organisations to support women’s rights and education. Her co-star Naseeruddin Shah is an award-winning film and stage actor. In addition to his film festival accolades, the Indian Government awarded Shah the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards for his work in Indian cinema.   

Three Peaks

Domestic drama Three Peaks (Drei Zinnen) chronicles a trip to the Italian Dolomites – the site of the titular peaks – gone wrong. Protagonist Aaron has been dating single mother Lea for some time, but has a tense relationship with her young son Tristan, who remains loyal to his biological father. The three travel to a cabin in the scenic, rugged Dolomites for a family vacation, but Aaron and Tristan are separated when their mountain hike is beset by fog and darkness.

Berlin-born Jan Zabeil graduated from the University of Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Two of his early short films, L.H.O. (2007) and Was Weiss Der Tropfen Davon (2008) were screened at over a hundred international film festivals and won several prizes. His debut feature, The River Used to be a Man (2011), premiered in Toronto and won Best New Director at San Sebastian IFF and Best Cinematography at the German Critics Association, among others. Three Peaks was developed when Zabeil attended a writers’ and directors’ lab in Amsterdam, and later won the Piazza Grande prize for its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival.

Fellow Berliner Alexander Fehling, who plays Aaron, is a German film and stage actor best known for his roles in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Showtime original TV series Homeland (2011). Arian Montgomery, the young son of Oscar-winning Irish animator Tyron Montgomery, stars as the precocious Tristan. Montgomery made his debut in German TV movie Beste Bescherung (2013) at the age of four, as well as its sequel in 2014. His on-screen mother in Three Peaks is played by prolific Argentine French actress Berenice Bejo, who starred in A Knight’s Tale (2001) and as a 1920s starlet in The Artist (2011). Her work in The Artist earned her an Oscar nomination and a Cesar Award. Bejo later won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 for her performance in The Past.

Wrath of Silence

Chinese noir Wrath of Silence (Bao Lie Wu Sheng) is set in a small mineral mining town in the hinterlands of northern China. The protagonist, Zhang Baomin, returns to his family’s small sheep farm to investigate the disappearance of his young son – but his quest stirs up anxiety, resentment and distrust among the townsfolk, who drown themselves in food, drink and imported cigarettes. Zhang refuses to give up even when he comes face-to-face with the deep-seated mob corruption and danger that permeates the region’s coal mining business.

Mongolian-born Yukun Xin graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2008. His first feature film, The Coffin In The Mountain (2014), earned him the Best Film and Best Director prizes at China’s FIRST Youth Film Festival before playing at the Venice International Film Festival. He was one of three directors to contribute a chapter to Distance (2016), an anthology executive-produced by Singapore’s Anthony Chen. His sophomore film Wrath of Silence and premiered at the FIRST Youth Film Festival this year.

Song Yang stars as Zhang Baomin, while Hebei-born Jiang Wu plays the villain. Yang was born in Fujian, China, and has starred in several TV series and movies since the mid-2000s; notably The Sword Identity (2011) and Final Master (2015). Jiang has worked extensively in Beijing theater and starred in more than 30 movies, including Zhang Yimou’s To Live (1994) and Zhang Yang’s Shower (1999).

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