If you believe in Bergson’s thesis that all humour is basically generated by crossing natural human, organic behavior and mechanical, automatic, repetitive patterns (of course his theory is more eloborate, but that’s what he boils it down to himself), than film is the comic medium par excellence. All human behavior is mechanised in film, a fact that can easily be made visible if we fast forward something on a tape recorder and witness very funny movements indeed. One of the major realms of filmmaking has spun out of this, the comedy that has been around since the early days of silent film. Still, it is often not regarded as an adequate genre for »serious« festivals, being thought of as being »mere entertainment«. This year’s LICHTER Filmfest proves this stereotype wrong. It shows the whole gamut of comic filmmaking, from Korean blockbusters to small German documentaries. The films combine slapstick and political commentary as in »La fille du 14 juillet«, romantic comedy and an unusual take on the human voice as in »In a world…« or a biting parody of the film industry with insights into the fabrication of bodies in the media as in »Vulgaria«. The program of roughly a dozen films will be accompanied by numerous debates and lectures about humour and comedy involving amongst others, Bob Mankoff of The New Yorker, the Israeli collective »A theory of the deep understaning of things« and German director Leander Haußmann. Please follow these recommendations or visit the screening schedule for the whole section.
»Swandown« (Documentary, 2012), Original English Version, 94 min. Director: Andrew Koetting (Direct Link)
»Swandown« is the documentation of an unusual journey with Olympian traits. Two men sail on a plastic swan from Hastings, which lies on the south coast of England to London. During this journey, director Andrew Koetting and screenwriter Iain Sinclair cross rivers, canals and the open sea. On their spectacular trip they have all sorts of chance encounters with people who are amused by the trio, are surprised, or even pass derogatory comments about this voyage. In addition, guests like the comic artist Alan Moore and comedian Stewart Lee occasionally accompany them. Together they experience the adversity of their environment. With references to Werner Herzog’s »Fitzcarraldo« and Les Blank’s »Burden of Dreams«, as well as Dada-esque echoes, »Swandown« creates an absurd odyssey that, due to the picturesque English countryside, convinces the viewer with its impressive motifs. Germany Premiere
»Les Coquillettes« (Fictional Documentary, 2013), 75 min. Director: Sophie Letourneur (Direct Link)
Sophie Letourneur, director and lead actress of the film, throws herself together with two of her friends – all filmmakers – into amorous entanglements at the film festival in Locarno. She shot her second feature film on a shoestring budget but with a lot of gusto for the cinematic experiment during the actual festival. The result is a »film-within-a-film within-a-film«, which never comes across as academic or boring but shows what cinema can still do better than any other medium: capture the spirit of a generation. »Les Coquillettes« is fiction and reality, a narrative experiment, French low-budget cinema and »Gaul’s reply to Lena Dunham« (The Hollywood Reporter): but above all, an extremely humorous portrait of a generation. Germany Premiere
»Somebody Up There Likes me« (Feature Film, 2012), 75 min. Director: Robert Byington (Direct Link)
Max is actually a very ordinary young man his late 20s who has to choose a path in life. But this path does not turn out as you would imagine. Despite economic success and three marriages to beautiful women, he pursues his own life with increasing passivity, and in contrast to all others, he is not growing any older. In a very comical way, he stumbles through the 35 years, which director Bob Byington describes in the best tradition of American indie film. The outstanding performer (especially Keith Poulson and Nick Offerman (»Parks and Recreation«)) draw a portrait of their generation and, at the same time, an apt parody on the interminable success stories, which are flooding cinema and television. »An appealingly odd mix, like a Todd Solondz film directed by Wes Anderson« – Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter. Rhine-Main-Premiere
»Vulgaria« (Feature Film, 2012), 90 min. Director: Pang Ho-Cheung (Direct Link)
The serious setting is misleading: As the film producer To Wai-Cheung has to describe his profession during a lecture in an elegant university lecture theatre, he chooses a, well, unexpected metaphor – like pubic hair, producers are called upon to dampen the frictions between the different players of a production. Thus, the tone of the film is set. As it quickly turns out, To earns his livelihood mainly with B-movies, is struggling with his successful ex-wife and his capricious assistant, and has to deal with a mob boss from the mainland to finance his new work. In the course of these struggles, To gets confronted with strange oral sex practices, fried cow vagina and a Chinese culture clash. If you wish, Bakhtin could be sensed and who cannot, may simply look forward to one and a half hours of tasteless gags on a high level.
»In a world…« (Feature Film, 2013), 93 min. Director: Lake Bell (Direct Link)
Carol works as a vocal coach and occasionally lends her voice also to commercials or movie trailers. The big break through, however, remains elusive. Usually, she finds it hard to compete against her male colleagues. Contrary to expectations, she suddenly finds herself in the selection as a trailer voice for a substantial trilogy. The other candidates are the big stars of the industry, her father Sam and his protégé Gustav. Despite that, Carol is facing the battle – against pride, sexism and prejudice. She could achieve a lot and shape the understanding of an entire generation. Lake Bell shines in this comedy, for which she was awarded the 2013 Sundance Screenplay Award. In a world… questions, in addition to gender stereotypes, also family and social structures and entertains through everyday, interpersonal chaos.
»Key of life« (Feature Film, 2012), 96 min. Director: Kenji Uchida (Direct Link)
In a bathhouse, the paths of the wealthy professional killer Kondo and the debt-ridden as well as unsuccessful actor Sakurai cross. When Kondo suffers an accident, Sakurai quickly swaps their locker keys and assumes the identity of Kondo. Kondo, suffering from amnesia, takes on the life of Sakurai. But whilst Kondo makes the acquaintance of the crazy-to-get-married, ambitious but equally lovely Kanae, Sakurai must deal with the Yakuza. Uchida tells this story with subtle humour, handing out the odd sarcastic jab from time to time. His comedy thriller, which won the Nippon Cinema Award in 2013, excites with its precise image compositions, fascinating characters, sharp dialogues and a fast-paced showdown.
LICHTER takes place from March 25th to 30th, 2013 at several cinemas in Frankfurt and Rhine Main Area/Germany.