LIFFe returns to cinemas, bringing 80 films

Ljubljana – The 32nd Ljubljana International Film Festival (LIFFe) returns to cinemas after being held in the virtual realm last year. According to the festival’s director, Simon Popek, around 80 feature and 16 short films will be screed between 10 and 21 November, with ten in the running for the Kingfisher Award for the best film.

The Perspectives section, featuring films by up-an-coming directors in the running for the Kingfisher, will include Inventory by Darko Sinko, a drama with elements of a thriller and black comedy.

Set in contemporary middle-class surroundings in Slovenia, the film won the best directing award at this year’s Slovenian Film Festival Portorož.

Also competing will be the award-winning Slovenian minority co-productions Morena by Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, a psychological family drama about patriarchate, and Small Body by Laura Samani, a mythopoetic odyssey of grief, faith, and feminine determination.

Popek described Azor by Andreas Fontana, “an abstract symphony of the Venetian Lagoon”, while Kala Azar by Janis Rafa will offer a dystopic view of the different relations between humans and animals.

Looking for Venera, directed by Norika Sefa, is a story about a girl growing up in the Kosovo countryside.

The list also includes black-and-white film by Zheng Lu Xinyuan, The Cloud in Her Room, the winner of the Rotterdam film festival, and Hit the Road by Panah Panahi, “a spiritual story set in the Iranian countryside”.

Servants by Ivan Ostrochovsky is a story about two students of theology in Czechoslovakia in 1980.

Slovenian film production will be represented by Tijana Zinajić’s Bitch, a Derogatory Term for a Woman, which won multiple awards at the Portorož festival, a minority production Heavens Above by Serbian director Srđan Dragojević, and Bird Atlas by the Czech Republic-based Slovenian director Olmo Omerzu in the Avantpremieres section.

A minority co-production Beanie by Slobodan Maksimović will be screened in the Kinobalon section targeting young audiences and The Last Day of Patriarchy, also by Omerzu, in the short films section.

The competing section Europe in Short will showcase 16 short films. Next to Omerzu, Rok Bičko and Špela Čadež will be represented with Penalty Shot and Steakhouse, respectively.

The opening film on 10 November will be I’m Your Man by Marie Schrader, presenting an experience of a female scientist who must live with a humanoid robot for three weeks.

Several big names will be presented as well as films taking the main prizes at top international film festivals or standing out for some other reason, Popek said.

In the Avantpremiere section, Aurey Diwan’s Happening, which won the top award at the Venice International Film, and a film about a relationship between two Italian nuns in the 17th century Benedetta by Paul Verhoeven will be screened alongside Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn.

Perhaps the most commercial film of the festival, according to Popek, is Spencer, an interpretation of four days in the life of Princess Diana, directed by Pablo Larrain.

Pedro Almodovar is returning to the festival with another example of his film poetics Parallel Mothers, a story exploring the complicated nature of a women and mother.

The only animated feature film of the festival is Belle: The Dragon and the Freckled Princes, a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, signed by Mamoru Hosoda.

The country in focus will be Georgia, while the festival’s retrospective will present films that have been censored.

LIFFe will also pay tribute to French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who died in September, with four films, including The Man from Acapulco, which will close the festival on 20 November.

Despite the hope that the festival will be held live in cinemas, the organisers will also offer at least 16 films through a video on demand platforms.

Ticket sale started today. Some screenings will also be held in Maribor, Celje and Novo Mesto.