There are few worthier recipients of our Spirit Of Cinema award than Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan’s most internationally renowned film-maker and one of the world’s best. It’s 25 years since his debut feature film Maborosi took the festival world by storm, revealing a daring new talent unafraid of tackling the biggest questions in life in the most elegantly crafted and subtly expressed cinematographic ways. Since then, he has built a significant body of work and made more than a few masterpieces, casting his compassionate gaze at the tangled web of family and human relationships in brilliant films like After Life (1998), Nobody Knows (2004), Still Walking (2008), I Wish (2011), Like Father, Like Son (2013) and Shoplifters (2018). Artistic director Mike Goodridge talks to Koreeda-san here about his early career to coincide with the award at IFFAM this year.
Director Hur Jin-ho has been at the peak of the Korean directors league since he emerged confidently with his touching debut feature Christmas In August in 1998. The tender story of a terminally ill young man who flirts with a new romance, it set him on his way as a director who became known for his subtle, moving brand of sentimental drama – the turbulence of unrequited love in One Fine Spring Day (2001), a man and a woman find out that they are both being cheated on by their respective spouses in April Snow (2005), two people fighting serious illnesses fall in love in Happiness (2007). But Hur is no one-trick pony and in 2012, he switched gears, making a lavish adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons set in Shanghai in the 1930s and made in Chinese. Since then, he has made two period epics – The Last Princess (2016) and last year’s Forbidden Dream (2019). He spoke to IFFAM artistic director Mike Goodridge about his film-making style and surprising career.
Nina Hoss is one of those actresses who is endlessly fascinating to watch. Look closely underneath the cool glacial beauty of her face and you can read a myriad emotions. She can be hard and unforgiving as effectively as vulnerable and damaged, always projecting a keen intelligence even as she falls into passion or unravels through pain. Her career took off through a series of stunning performances in five films by Christian Petzold – an actress/director collaboration that saw both deliver superb work in titles such as Yella (2007), Jerichow (2008), Barbara (2012) and Phoenix (2012). Hoss slips easily into the English-language and was a standout in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man and Volker Schlondorff’s Return To Montauk. Check out her knockout performance in emotional Swiss film My Little Sister this year on the IFFAM platform. We are proud to welcome Nina as our jury member and special “virtual” guest, on the occasion of which festival programmer Fionnuala Halligan spoke to her about her career.
One of the most adventurous signature film-makers in mainland China, Ning Hao combines an edgy comic style with a generous human spirit which is beloved by audiences in movies like Crazy Stone (2006), Crazy Alien (2019) and Breakup Buddies (2014). His superb short film in the 2019 compendium My People My Country (2019) featured Ge You as Zhang Beijing, a taxi driver who comes back in his splendid segment in this year’s My People My Homeland (2020) on which Ning was also overall general director. His collaborations, not just with stars like Ge, Zheng Xu and Huang Bo but with other young directors and talent (cemented in his company Dirty Monkey and other productions like megahit Dying To Survive) have only enhanced his brand as a leading creative light in Chinese cinema. We are proud to have Ning Hao as the chair of our jury; here he talks to Ellen Eliasoph, a well-established producer and executive in China and a friend of IFFAM who sat on our international jury in 2019.
Now in his early sixties, Viggo Mortensen has made his first film as writer/director: a film called Falling. This complex family drama starring Mortensen with Lance Henricksen as his crotchety father and Laura Linney as his sister, had its world premiere at Sundance in January, was selected for the Cannes label in May and then played in San Sebastian and Toronto in September. Its warm reception by critics and audiences adds another bow to his repertoire of talents: he is also an accomplished musician, painter, photographer, poet and of course actor. And what an actor. Thrice Oscar-nominated for Eastern Promises (2007), Captain Fantastic (2016), and Green Book (2018), he has famous credits including The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, in which he played Aragorn, and A History Of Violence. He speaks here to IFFAM artistic director Mike Goodridge about Falling and his career.