The Black Nights Film Festival is almost here and the programme is versatile and contains numerous films as is appropriate for the beloved festival. Luckily, Helina Koldek helps you orientate a little in this maze of screenings, sharing the friendly commandments in order to survive our festival.

The Untamed (La región salvaje)
Mexico, Denmark, France, 2016, director Amat Escalante

Amat Escalante’s sci-fi-peppered drama „The Untamed” is a unique insight to the modern society of Mexico, which is continuously suffering from machoism, misogyny and homophobia. Following the scheme familiar from Pasolini’s „Teorema”, in which the routine of family life is disrupted by the arrival of a charming stranger, Escalante embarks on a completely one-of-a-kind journey. This masterpiece has, among others, been compared to Andrzej Żuławski’s „Possession”.

The Ornithologist (O Ornitólogo)
Portugal, France, Brazil, 2016, director João Pedro Rodrigues

João Pedro Rodrigues, one of the most interesting Portuguese directors, has made another dreamlike and personal pearl of a film. The action takes place in the wilderness of northern Portugal, where the ornithology enthusiast Fernando loses control of his canoe and subsequently his consciousness while watching birds. Regaining consciousness, he encounters a number of weird adventures in a mystic forest full of surprises, in which the everyday and supernatural, religious and sensual worlds intertwine.

Land of the Little People (Medinat Hagamadim)
Israel, 2016, director Yaniv Berman

The children left alone during wartime pass the time in an abandoned military base inventing new weapons and hunting for animals in the forest. They’re not killing for pleasure, however, but to feed the blood-thirsty monster living in the bottom of the well in the base. When the youth gang discovers that their hiding place has been taken over by two deserters, they start a war against the intruders. It is a creepy political metaphor to the Israeli-Palestine relations.

Psycho Raman (Raman Raghav 2.0)
India, 2016, director Anurag Kashyap

Brilliant crime films come out of India in the recent times, focusing on the dark side of Mumbai. Anurag Kashyap, who is at the forefront of the movement called Mumbai noir, is one of the most influential filmmakers in India today. His „Psycho Raman” follows a mentally unstable, manipulative and ruthless Raman, who has decided to emulate the 1960s serial killer Raman Raghav. The incredibly thrilling and corrupt story is accompanied by a refreshingly tasteless soundtrack.

Zoology (Zoologiya)
Russia, France, Germany, 2016, director Ivan I. Tverdovsky

As Hollywood Reporter shrewdly says, „Zoology” is a sort of mixture of Kafka, Cronenberg and dark Russian humour. It’s a story about the lonely zoo worker Natasha, who lives with her deeply religious mother and is the object of ridicule of her colleagues. Everything changes, when Natasha discovers that she has grown a tail. Turning to a doctor with the problem, she meets the handsome young X-ray cabinet employee Petja, with whom she begins a romantic relationship. Soon, though, it becomes eminent that Petja is not so interested in Natasha as he is of her tail. Natasha must do something.

Soul on a String (Pisheng shang de hun)
China, 2016, director Zhang Yang

Yang Zhang’s drama takes place in the highlands of Tibet. Former criminal Tabei has been resurrected and sent to take a sacred jewel to a secret destination. On his journey that runs across mountain roads as well as paths of his heart, demons, treasure hunters and brothers eager to avenge their father’s death await. The adventurous journey is accompanied by picturesque landscapes, mountain lakes, steppes, snowy mountain tops, and, of course, mystic stories and invisible worlds.

Harmonium (Fuchi ni tatsu)
Japan, France, 2016, director Koji Fukada

This thrilleresque psychological drama, running a silent, but explosive course, follows the consequences of the past deeds of a decent family man, Toshio. The family suffering from boredom and routine is brought a change into by the father’s long-lost friend Yasaka. He starts to work in Toshio’s metal workshop, settles into the family home, and gradually takes over the role of the head of the family. The viewers can ponder over sin, revenge, redemption, and the mysterious human nature.

The Void
Canada, 2016, director Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski

Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski belong to the film group Astron-6, whose stylish and witty films with a unique vision („Manborg”, „The Editor”) have been shown to the Estonian audience before. As is usual for the films of Astron-6, the current film’s strength is in creating something never been seen before by skilful and plentiful references and quotations.

Fantastic Planet (La planète sauvage)
France, 1973, director René Laloux

An animated fantasy with a very cosy surreal atmosphere and 1970s vibe about a planet, on which humans (Oms) live under the supremacy of blue aliens (Draags). One human kept as a pet manages to escape and starts to fight against the Draag regime with others. It is an allegorical treatment of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, but the most remarkable part of the film is still the crafted world with its wonderful and unforgettable beings and plants.

The Kingdom, Season I (Riget I)
Denmark, Italy, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Holland, 1994, director Lars von Trier

In Sinilind, the special screenings of Lars von Trier’s „The Kingdom”, which was also shown at the first BNFF 20 years ago, take place. The hospital series, often compared to David Lynch’s „Twin Peaks”, includes the elements of mystery, melodrama, and horror, as well as black comedy. The action takes place in a Danish hospital and follows both earthly and supernatural cases of both patients and doctors. As an intermediary, the events are commented on by dishwashers with the Down syndrome.