Our competition selection for extraordinary fiction films from all over the world.
The films in the main competitions stands out in terms of form or content – they are simply extraordinairy. All films are Norwegian premieres and they do not have regular cinema distribution, so BIFF is the place for experience these extraordinary films on the big screen.
Cinema Extraordinaire films compete for the award of 30.000 NOK. JURY: Ingrid Åbergsjord, critic in Aftenposten | Jon Raundalen, ph.d. in film and principal at Bergen kulturskole | Kjersti Rasmussen, scriptwriter.
First time director Natalya Vorozhbit adapts her own stage play for the big screen in this arresting look at modern-day Ukraine. Consisting of four seemingly disconnected short stories set in the Donbass region, the film captures the trauma of war and societal decay in a series of tense and doom-laden meetings between strangers. Vorozhbit’s background as a playwright is evident in the precise and powerful dialogue delivered by the ensemble, making BAD ROADS a haunting yet deeply humanistic film.
Yana and her husband David are Jehovah’s Witness missionaries in a rural Georgian village dominated by Orthodox Christians who treat them with hostility. When religious extremists burn down their house of worship, Yana becomes obsessed with revenge, setting her out on a dangerous path. With its striking tableaus, gorgeous 35mm images and unpredictable narrative, BEGINNING is a remarkably accomplished debut feature from Dea Kulumbegashvili. This is a quiet and powerful drama that stays with you long after you’ve exited the cinema.
FEBRUARY follows a goatherd from rural Bulgaria through three stages of his life – at the farm as an eight-year-old, in the army at 18 and back at the farm at age 82. The film is sparse on action and plot but wonderfully rich in atmosphere and evocative images that capture an invisible presence which gives the audience a deep sense of the protagonist’s connection to the landscape and his family tradition. Quiet, meditative and oddly affecting, Kamen Kalev’s fourth feature cements his status as one of Bulgaria’s foremost filmmakers.
During the goldrush of the 1820’s, two outsiders strike up a friendship and a business plan: Using stolen milk from the only cow in the Oregon Territory, they start producing cakes that match the finest treats of the civilized world. With the cakes a runaway success, their only problem is keeping the nightly milk heists a secret. With the uniquely charming and universally critically acclaimed FIRST COW, Kelly Reichardt (MEEK’S CUTOFF, CERTAIN WOMEN) returns with another warm and nuanced tale of life in the Pacific Northwest.
Christovam moves from rural northern Brazil to a former Austrian colony in the south to work in a milk factory. As one of few dark-skinned people in town, he is met with threats and racist prejucides by locals but finds solace in an abandoned house which seems to have a mind of its own. Upon moving in, Christovam discovers that the house is materializing his own memories – and slowly driving him insane. Seductively atmospheric and surreal, MEMORY HOUSE is a dark fairytale of a modern-day Brazil haunted by its colonial past.
From the ancient Slavic forests, a mysterious figure emerges with strange abilities and a foldable massage table. In a modern city somewhere in Eastern Europe, he encounters a society cursed by a relentless pursuit of material goods and a pathological drive to emulate the West. As he makes his way through the community, the inhabitants start to wake up from their spiritual sleep. NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN is a stylish, poetic and hauntingly resonant fable about modernity and identity in post-Soviet Eastern Europe.
When Maria is admitted to an institution for people with mental disabilities, she immediately becomes friends with Dragana. But when they discover that they are both in love with their fellow resident Robert, jealousy turns the two of them into bitter – and dangerous – enemies. Filmed in an institution and featuring residents playing fictionalized versions of themselves, OASIS is an emotionally raw and uncomfortably realistic film about love, friendship and the unquenchable thirst for independence.
In a remote villa somewhere in Austria lives ten-year-old Elli and the man she refers to as “papa”. However, the relationship between the two is not what it seems at first glance. For one thing, “papa” touches Elli in a way no adult should ever touch a child. For the other, Elli is a robot. Combining ideas from Spike Jonze’s HER and Alex Garland’s EX MACHINA with the stark and unpleasant tone of Michael Haneke and Ulrich Seidl, Sandra Wollner’s stylish and atmospheric sci-fi film poses some very uncomfortable questions.
In YALDA, A NIGHT FOR FORGIVENESS a young woman sentenced to death for the murder of her husband gets one chance at having her conviction overturned: By begging his relatives for forgiveness on live TV. Using this bizarre and very real form of Iranian television entertainment as a framing device, director Massoud Bakshi expertly ratchets up the tension, as the story behind the husband’s death is slowly revealed. The result is a remarkably suspenseful drama about the inherent misogyny of the religious laws which permeate Iranian society.
The winner will be announced at BIFF's awards ceremony on Thursday 15 October 2020, and the winning films will have an extra screening each during the last festival weekend.