Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival


LEFFEST ’21 showcases 11 films in Official Competition

LEFFEST’s 15th anniversary edition is less than a month away. Our Official Selection – In Competition section showcases 11 titles from various cinematographies and geographies in a selection of the best films produced this year. With most of the filmmakers present at LEFFEST ’21, this edition marks the return of the festival for a full twelve days of highlights and special moments.

A Chiara, by Jonas Carpignano, involves us in joy and family happiness. Claudio and Carmela celebrate their daughter's 18th birthday surrounded by family and friends, including their youngest daughter, 15 year-old Chiara. The next day, however, the father disappears, profoundly altering the family’s stability. Dissatisfied with the story being told, Chiara begins her investigation. As she gets closer to the truth, she is forced to decide what kind of future she wants for herself.

Payal Kapadia's A Night of Knowing Nothing is simultaneously an epistolary film, a political manifesto and a defence of cinema; a free cinema, which vibrates with grief and anger, making us aware of what’s happening in India today whilst crossing reality with fiction, dream with memory and fantasy with anguish.

Brother’s Keeper, by Turkish director Ferit Karahan, is located in a boarding school in the mountains of Anatolia, where Turkish teachers manage their local Kurdish students under very strict rules and monitoring. One day, Memo, a twelve-year-old boy, asks his friend, Yusuf, to sleep in his bed. Afraid of eliciting negative comments, Yusuf refuses. The next morning, Memo finds himself ill and unable to attend classes. As the boy's condition worsens, a snowstorm ravages the mountains and Yusuf is unable to speak unless asked to. From then on, the events of the night before are gradually revealed.

The Box, by Lorenzo Vigas, follows Los Elefantes Never Olvidan (2004) and Desde Allá (2015) as the last chapter of a trilogy dedicated to the absence of the father figure, an indelible feature of Latin American social identity. Hatzín, a young Mexican man, travels to collect the remains of his father, found in a common grave in the deserted landscape of northern Mexico. On his return home, an unexpected encounter with Mário, a man similar to his father, gives the young man hope, insisting on not leaving him. The meeting will be the beginning of an adventure shrouded in moral dilemmas, a political whistle-blower of the conditions under which labor practices take place in Latin America.

A politically motivated murder case rocks Poland in 1983. Leave no Traces is a film by Jan P. Matuszyński in which we get to know Grzegorz Przemyk, a student and activist, ultimately beaten to death by the police. This is the story of the only witness to the crime, who soon becomes a victim of intense persecution by the media, and by the legal and military apparatus of the communist regime. 

A war epic directed by Arthur Harari, Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle is inspired by the true story of Hiroo Onoda, a secret service officer in the Japanese Imperial Army who fought in the Philippines during World War II and who spent nearly 30 years in the jungle in Lubang Island after the end of the conflict, never convinced that the war was over. In March 1974, he was the second to last Japanese soldier to be discharged. Arthur Harari builds a narrative around a character,  a contradictory figure who can be seen from many angles. Being, to some, a hero and a resistance fighter who refuses to submit to Western invaders, he is, to others, a delusional madman who isn’t shy about killing innocents while waging his imaginary holy war.

French writer Emmanuel Carrère returns to cinema after a long break. In Ouistreham, Juliette Binoche plays the central character: a writer who infiltrates the world of cleaning businesses to investigate the reality of precarious employment in French society. The film is a free adaptation of the work of French journalist Florence Aubenas, Le Quai de Ouistreham. 

With a cast composed mainly by non-actors, Sean Baker takes another long look at the people and characters living on the fringes of American society. In Red Rocket, a washed up gay porn movie star returns to his hometown to ask his ex-wife to take him in for a while.

Eskil Vogt introduces us to the beginning of a parable about the fine line that separates good from evil. In The Innocents, set during a Nordic summer, a group of children, aged between seven and eleven, reveal their dark and mysterious powers without the adults realizing it. In this original and captivating supernatural thriller, the game takes a dangerous twist.

Unclenching the Fists, by Kira Kovalenko, takes place in an industrial town in the Northern Caucasus where Ada, one of the many victims of the 2004 school siege in Beslan carried out by Chechens demanding Russia's withdrawal from their country, is kept under the excessive control of her father Zaur. Still recovering from trauma, Ada struggles to escape the stifling grip of the family she both loves and rejects, even if it means marrying Tamik, a hometown loser, or fleeing on the back of her older brother’s motorcycle.

In Kavich Neang's White Building, young actor Piseth Chhun plays Samnang, who together with his two friends rehearse a hip-hop choreography for a dance contest. The youths live in a social housing project, home of generations of Cambodians, now in the process of being demolished. This event, symptomatic of the social instability experienced in Cambodia, will transform the life of the local community.

Official Selection - In Competition

A Chiara by Jonas Carpignano
A Night of Knowing Nothing by Payal Kapadia
Brother’s Keeper by Ferit Karahan
The Box by Lorenzo Vigas
Leave no Traces by Jan P. Matuszyński
Onoda, 10 000 Nights in the Jungle by Arthur Harari
Ouistreham by Emmanuel Carrère
Red Rocket by Sean Baker
The Innocents by Eskil Vogt
Unclenching the Fists by Kira Kovalenko
White Building by Kavich Neang

See you in November!
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