Manchester Film Festival: Day 4

Final day and I was making sure I squeezed the most out of my festival pass!

The day started with Planet Ottakring, an Austrian gangster comedy with underlying commentary on inner-city Vienna’s diverse immigrant culture and the economic issues surrounding more deprived areas like Ottakring. The mood is along the lines of Run, Lola, Run rather than The Godfather, and deserved a lot more love than I think it got.

A second foreign language film followed – Når Solen Skinner (When the Sun Shines) is a Danish film focussing on a terminally ill teenager and the carefree (or is she?) care assistant who takes him on an adventure outside of the hospice. Yes, it’s very Fault In Our Stars, but without the anger – the big positives are the skilled performances from the two young leads, Elias Munk and Laura Kjær. It was entertaining, but Planet Ottakring was my preferred foreign language film of the day. (Edit: Når Solen Skinner won Best International Film, so again, what do I know?)

Technically also an international film, but as it’s in English presumably it didn’t count, Cardboard Gangsters tracks the activities of a group of low level drug dealers in North Dublin, who decide it’s time to step up to the big league and come across resistance from already existing gangs. It’s well written, allowing for a tremendous performance from John Connors which is really what the film hangs on – without him it would be a very different piece. (Edit: John Connors won the award for Best Actor, and the film picked up not only Best Film, but Film of the Festival. I know, I don’t know the difference between these two categories either. In my opinion, it was Connors’ performance alone which won all of the categories for the film – the scene below was the subject of much discussion during the Q&A.)

Finally, Katie Says Goodbye. Local lass Olivia Cooke was on hand to introduce and do a Q&A afterwards, and did her very best to stick up for the film and for her character. I admire her for trying. But this was a film which took a particular stance with its attitude to sex workers, to sexual assault, to the economic and social issues which poorly paid women endure, and seemed to suggest that a smile and a good heart will conquer everything. Not one of the men that we see on screen treats Katie anyway near properly or with any respect. Even those who appear to be kind to her and even like her are still using her, and most of those should know better and/or are in positions of authority where they should not be allowed to get away with such behaviour. It was an unusual choice for the closing gala, and I think it did the ‘Women In Film’ strand a terrible disservice. (Edit: Olivia Cooke won Best Actress.)

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