"The Visitor" Fipresci Member Review

… One after another films by seemingly well-known and serious cinema makers turned out as disappointments. More or less satisfactorily was The Girl King, a co-production of Germany, Canada, Finland, and Sweden, directed by 60-year-old Mika Kaurismaki – a brother of the cult Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki – however, this historical drama about the legendary Christina, Swedish queen of the 17th century (Malin Buska was awarded the Best Actress prize in the end), was clearly intended for a commercial release, and thus not very fitting within the festival format. A pleasant exception was the Secret (directed by Selim Evci, Turkey) – an easy-going but skillfully made movie, a family drama precise in the implementation. The film could have assumed the title of the undisputed leader of the festival, but lost to another movie – interestingly, also a Turkish one, more on which later.

I followed the events being in a not too familiar role – as a member of the jury, specifically, the jury of FIPRESCI (the International Federation of Film Critics). I was the first Ukrainian is this role in the entire festival’s history.

Our team included six people, everyone from different countries: Spain, Poland, Italy, and Canada, presided by Andres Nazarala from Chile, a man extremely intelligent and paternally caring. Our work was to patiently watch all the competition movies to its end regardless of their quality, and then to discuss them. As FIPRESCI prize was also provided for the competition debut, we were divided into two groups. The discussions were not particularly lengthy, given the fact that we have identified the favorite almost unanimously, with only a slight opposition – once we had watched The Visitor (Misafir) by Turkish director Mehmet Eryilmaz.

The Visitor can boast not only an extremely strong and cohesive cast, but also the director’s close attention to visual detail (a feature lacking in other contestants). Eryilmaz is generous with his screen time when stopping the camera at a particular rug on the wall during a tense conversation; this “interjection” is woven into the fabric of the film closely and assertively, displaying the relationships between the characters as good as any of the most verbose dialogs. The director has built a true cinematic poem from the everyday life of a poor and unfriendly family; his reward is certainly deserved.

After all, apart from our prize The Visitor has also won the second most significant award of the festival, the Special Grand Jury Award. The first award was given to a clearly weaker Mad Love by Philippe Ramos, France, but it cannot shadow the highlights of the Turkish movie.

As cliche as it may sound, but the jury has really no space for ambitions; a true critic always remembers their place – in the service staff of the art. The work helps the jury to do what we, critics, do anyway – supporting good movies. This time the support manifested not only in reviews, but in a certain amount of power, given by the virtue of the festival jury. And I am happy to have received the opportunity.

Finally, I will repeat what has already been said before: my work in the FIPRESCI Jury at the Montreal World Film Festival I dedicate to the prisoners of conscience, Ukrainians Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, unjustly convicted by the Putin’s regime.

By Dmytro DESIATERYK, The Day, Montreal – Kyiv 17 september 2015