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The programme team is working hard on putting together a spectacular offering for HIFF 2014. The full programme will be published on September 5th, but today we are revealing a few films that will be screened during the festival on September 18th – 28th.

Rebecca Zlotowski’s GRAND CENTRAL takes place in the surroundings of a nuclear plant. The main characters in this sweaty love story are played by two of the hottest French actors at the moment – Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color) and Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, The Past). Rahim, who charmed the HIFF audience last year, plays a young unschooled man who lands a job as a decontamination subcontractor at a nuclear plant. He soon finds out that the company he works for does not care too much about safety regulations. His secret relationship with the wife of his boss could also be considered rather high-risk, adding sparks to the intense story.

Infected family ties

THE SKELETON TWINS is a dark comedy about twins Milo and Maggie (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig) who haven’t seen each other in ten years. Milo’s suicide attempt forces them to get to know each other again, facing their respective shortcomings and trying to find new ways to cope. Despite the bleak outset, Craig Johnson has directed  a warm and funny film that leaves the viewer craving for more.

Ira Sach’s LOVE IS STRANGE is a relationship drama set in New York City. After almost four decades togehter, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally get to marry each other. The relationship is put to a test when the newlywed have to leave their home and move in with t friends and family due to George’s unemployment. As Ben tells George over the phone: “Sometimes when you live with people, you know them better than you care to.”

Soccer is sometimes larger than life, even when the world cup is over. Daniel Sánchez Arévalo’s FAMILY UNITED takes place in 2010, when Spain won the soccer world cup. Emotions run wild and secrets are revealed as a big Spanish family gets together to celebrate the wedding of the youngest son and watch the world cup final.

Politics for good and for worse

Abrerrahmane Sissoko’s TIMBUKTU premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year to rave reviews. The beautifully shot drama shows what happens when fundamentalists take over a small Malian village and start interpreting sharia law in their own radical way, notwithstanding protests from the local imam. The villagers dream of simple things like listening to music or playing soccer, mundane activities that have been forbidden by the militant extremists. In one scene, a jihadist soldier tells the villagers that “everything old” is now forbidden in public places. In another scene, equally sad and beautiful, a group of children play soccer without a ball.

Timbuktu 9 pienempi

 

 

In his documentary MAIDAN, director Sergei Loznitsa shows how Kiev’s Maidan square is turned into a death trap as the recent Ukrainian hostilities escalate. The film was shot between December 2013 and Februrary 2014. Always conveying a strong sense of presence, the director choses to use almost solely large images, where the center of the action is far away from the kamera. Variety’s critic wrote in his review that Maidan is one of the few films about a recent revolution that will not feel dated five years from now.

A lighter touch to political issues is offered in THE FRENCH MINISTER, a witty comedy which provides a look behind the scenes at the center of French foreign policy. Here, diplomatic instinct (or the lack of it), career climbing and outrageous behavior culminate in one person, the French Foreign Minister. In this warmhearted comedy, veteran director Bertrand Tavernier shows what a mess French bureaucracy and hot temper can cause.

Teenage trouble

Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke’s CLUB SANDWICH is a comedy about a mother and her pre-teenage son who are spending lazy vacation days by a pool. During the course of the holiday the mother has to come to terms with the fact that her son is no longer a little child, but a soon-to-be independent teenager, whose innocence the mother wants to protect as long as she can.

The main character in METALHEAD is a young woman whose teenage years are shadowed by the tragic death of her brother. Blaming herself for her brother’s death, she finds comfort in music and dreams of forming her own band, getting away from the Icelandic village where she lives.

Difficult neighbors

TO KILL A MAN depicts a man whose life is turned upside down when neighborhood thugs start tormenting his family. When it turns out the authorities are not going to help him, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Alejandro Fernández Almendra’s chilling thriller won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Horses seem far wiser than the stubborn humans in Benedikt Erlingsson’s OF HORSES AND MEN. The absurd and amusing drama unfolds in a wild Icelandic landscape where using binoculars is the best way to keep an eye on the neighbors and horses are the vehicles of choice.