Best & Worst Movies We Saw at the Athens Film Festival

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FANGLE’s writers banded together to view and review as many films at the Athens Film Festival as possible. We laughed and we cried (not really), but we did have a great time learning more about film, meeting directors and experiencing new movies. So, without further ado, here is our list of the best and worst movies of this year’s 42nd annual film festival at The Athena Cinema.

 

Our Top-Picked Movies

Two Blue Lines

Director Tom Hayes spent 25 years creating the Israeli/Palestinian documentary. Image via ohio.edu
Director Tom Hayes spent 25 years creating the Israeli/Palestinian documentary.
Image via ohio.edu

Director/Producer: Tom Hayes
Length: 98 min.
Rating: 5/5

Two Blue Lines is a documentary film concerning conflict in Israel. The film was produced and directed by Tom Hayes over a period of 25 years. Two Blue Lines discusses the problems that have risen between the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Israel. This conflict sparked in 1948 when Jews were given full occupation of Palestinian land, forcing Palestine Arabs out of their native land and into refugee camps.

It was astonishing for me to see the dehumanizing events happening in Israel. Palestine Arabs are being segregated and deprived of resources such as water and transportation under the control of a Jewish military government. Innocent and unarmed Palestinian children are being killed and injured for just stepping foot on forbidden grounds. Basically, the rights of individuals in Israel are being determined by their nationality, also known as racism.

Many people do not know about these brutal acts of racism happening in Israel, which is why I think it would be valuable to see this film. Some parts of the film might be difficult to watch due to the violent footage, however, I thought the footage was very eye opening. It really gave me a powerful insight into what life in Israel is like for a Palestine Arab. I was truly amazed by the risks and dangerous measures that the director and camera crew went through to produce this film. With the knowledge of issues like this, we can make an effort to put a stop to these horrific occurrences.

By: Rachel Sinistro

 

Class Enemy

Students wear recently deceased classmate’s face to make a statement to their teacher. Image via sicvenezia.it
Students wear recently deceased classmate’s face to make a statement to their teacher.
Image via sicvenezia.it

Director: Rok Bicek
Length: 112 min.
Rating: 4.5/5

Class Enemy was a very dramatic film that demonstrated the sole definition of teenage angst and confusion. It gives some insight as to why the minds of young adults find it easier to create problems as a means of dealing with their own.

Directed by Rok Bicek, the film featured a group of students from a school in Slovenia who recently received a replacement German teacher after their original teacher had taken maternity leave. Mr. Zupan, whose stern face and strict ways made him incredibly unlikable, faced heat of students after one of their classmates committed suicide after having a conversation with him. From that day on, the students united in multiple forms of protest day after day, ultimately letting the school slip into chaos.

What made it intriguing was the fact that everything took place in the school, so those were the only sides of the characters the audience could see, making it more important to pick up on behavior and mannerisms. Eventually, the once unified bond of the students began to disjoint after everyone started acting on different pages, turning against one another.

Mr. Zupan, who was referred to numerous times as a Nazi, continued his lesson in German on the author Thomas Mann, teaching his class the importance of a famous quote by Mann: “A man’s dying is more his survivor’s affair than his own.”

The film successfully touches the audience on a personal level, showing the distinct difference between the minds of young people dealing with life, and the minds of adults who are handling it, in a way The Breakfast Club never did.

By: Abbey Thomas

 

Grabbers

Irish men check to see if the first captured grabber is truly dead (it’s not). Image via Horrorsociety
Irish men check to see if the first captured grabber is truly dead (it’s not).
Image via Horrorsociety

Director: Jon Wright
Length: 94 min.
Rating: 4/5

“That’s no fucking lobster.” What do you get when you combine heavy Irish drinkers with a sea monster that’s basically the Kraken on steroids? A unique combination of horror and tongue in cheek comedy that’s guaranteed to entertain.

Something is terrorizing Erin Island: eating fishermen, killing whales and laying big white eggs all over the shore. This film tells the tale of small-town Irish folk doing what they do best: drinking and telling each other to f–k off. The story unfolds as the townspeople figure out what the monster’s motive is, as well as what his biggest enemy is: alcohol. Although the love story between the two main characters, Ciaran O’Shea and Lisa Nolan, is cheese ball central, it wasn’t terribly overdone and the attraction between lazy alcoholic and dedicated police officer was charming.

Grabbers is certainly not insanely scary or pee-your-pants hilarious, but Wright blends the two with a unique story concept that tweaks the normal sea monster formula. By the time the climax comes on a rainy Irish night, I wanted to join the townsfolk as they assembled to fight the monster, one shot of home-brewed liquor at a time.

By: Grace Hermanns

 

Movies that Didn’t Make the Cut

Appropriate Behavior

Akhaven contemplates her life choices in a club bathroom. Image via canberrafilmfestival
Akhaven contemplates her life choices in a club bathroom.
Image via canberrafilmfestival

Director: Desire Akhaven
Length: 86 min.
Rating: 3.2/5

What happens when you have a closeted bisexual woman confused about what and who she wants in life, paired with an extremely conservative Persian family? The correct answer would be multiple lovers of varying sexes and a healthy amount of drinking.

This modern film takes a look at someone exploring their inner demons and who they want to be more than just a film about LGBT rights or cultural differences. Although the film fell short at times in documentable character growth and interest, it had some very sweet and funny moments. It was an interesting film and, even with its plot issues, was a memorable performance by its protagonist, Desiree Akhaven. The everyday, casual feel of this film is both a hindrance and a help to the film’s general mood. The script itself was strong and had very cute, memorable lines in the character’s relationships. With a few plot tweaks and a slightly higher budget, Appropriate Behavior could have gone from just enjoyable into a more memorable piece.

By: Raichel Jenkins

 

Murder in Pacot

Pictured center, Andremise, love interest of Alex, foreign aid worker. Image via Tiff.net
Pictured center, Andremise, love interest of Alex, foreign aid worker.
Image via Tiff.net

Director: Raoul Peck
Length: 130 min.
Rating: 3/5

This film tells a tale of power and conflict in Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010. Set in a crumbling neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, a juxtaposition is immediately created when a previously privileged Haitian couple is forced to restore their villa only days after the earthquake. To pay for the renovations, they rent it out to a foreign aid worker named Alex and his young, poignant girlfriend Andremise. The story is set over a span of eight days, and as the hours drag on, the unnamed Haitian couple’s hope of finding their adopted son in the rubble of the house diminishes.

This film dragged on a bit, with not much movement towards a resolution. The whole story takes place at the home of the privileged couple, so other scenes of destruction from the earthquake are hidden from the plot. As the couple struggles to cope with loss and learn how to be their own servants, other conflicts unfold between the sexually charged Andremise and the naïve aid worker. Although the plot shows fundamental contradictions to Haitian society, trimming the movie down to say, 90 minutes, might have held my attention long enough to appreciate the somewhat overdone climax.

By: Grace Hermans

 

Cincinnati Goddamn

Roger Owensby (pictured left), veteran and victim of Cincinnati Police brutality, pictured with his daughter. Image via copblock.org
Roger Owensby (pictured left), veteran and victim of Cincinnati Police brutality, pictured with his daughter.
Image via copblock.org

Directors: April Martin and Paul Hill
Length: 100 min
Rating: 2.8/5

The film Cincinnati Goddamn took nine years to make and depicted several cases of racial profiling and police brutality in Cincinnati. The film was often shot in low quality, showing the city’s protests, interviews of victims’ family members and police footage. While it is understandable why most of the shots were in scratchy footage, at times it took away from the movie’s importance, however I do commend the directors for obtaining the police footage, conducting interviews with victims’ families and compiling the information needed to make this film.

I think the film could have had more weight if it focused less on a few cases and more on the issue as a whole. As a Cincinnati native myself, I already had an interest in this film because the scenery was familiar to me. That being said, I gave it a lower rating due to my realization that if a Columbus or Cleveland native had been watching this film, they may have been bored and uninterested.

By: Raichel Jenkins

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