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BLACK NIGHTS 2019 Competition

Tallinn Black Nights announces the first titles in its Official Selection


- The eight films by established directors that are due to compete for the festival’s Grand Prix will have their premieres at the leading Northern European gathering

Tallinn Black Nights announces the first titles in its Official Selection
Arracht by Tom Sullivan

A couple of days after announcing the first eight titles in its First Feature Competition (see the news), the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) has also unveiled the first eight titles that will compete in its premier programme, the Official Selection. The festival, which this year runs from 15 November-1 December, will showcase films with no geographical restrictions, and the first eight selected movies directed by established filmmakers will have either their world, international or European premieres in the Estonian capital.

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As in the First Feature Competition, the Official Selection Competition will be overseen by an international jury of film-industry professionals, scheduled to be announced later in October, which will hand out the €10,000 Grand Prix provided by the city of Tallinn, to be shared by the director and producer of the winning film, along with the €5,000 Best Director Award and five more artistic accolades.

Starting with the two films that will have their world premieres at the 23rd Black Nights Film Festival, director-screenwriter Tom Sullivan’s Arracht, set in Ireland in 1845 at the beginning of the Great Famine, offers a hauntingly bleak, slow-burning tale of overcoming grief, as a fisherman is unable to protect his family until a helpless girl saves him from despair. In her sophomore feature, Lost Lotus, writer-director Liu Shu strikes a delicate balance in her depiction of mourning and the clash between religious and moral values as she follows a young Chinese teacher who is looking for the hit-and-run driver responsible for her mother’s death. During the process, she will gradually align with her mother’s faith as Buddhist principles gradually take hold inside her.

More than ten years after his short Cheeese…. was awarded at Tallinn, Kurdish-German director Hüseyin Tabak returns to Black Nights with Gipsy Queen, which follows Ali (Alina Serban), a single mother who lives in Hamburg and realises that her former profession as a pro boxer will help her make ends meet. Acclaimed Danish actor Ulrich Thomsen (The Commune [+see also:
film review
interview: Thomas Vinterberg
film profile
) is presenting Gutterbee, his second endeavour as a director, after his debut feature, In Embryo. This gritty, awkward and politically allegorical anti-western is set in the Deep South of the USA, where a German entrepreneur (Ewen Bremner) and a small-town hustler (Antony Starr) decide to open a German sausage restaurant, flying in the face of the xenophobia and racism that dominates the town.

Acclaimed Russian auteur Konstantin Lopushansky is returning after six years with his latest feature, Through Black Glass, which offers a stark social commentary blended with religious allegory, where a diabolically vicious oligarch offers surgery to a blind, beautiful nun on condition that she will marry him. Also, Turkish director Can Evrenol toys with various genres in his Girl With No Mouth, which is set in an apocalyptic near future where ruthless militants are performing brutal experiments on children.

In her latest film, When the Moon Was Full, Iranian director Narges Abyar studies two opposing forces, Islamic terrorism and love, as a woman from Tehran finds out soon after her wedding that her husband’s younger brother is a religious extremist trying to recruit his sibling. Finally, Hong Kong-born American filmmaker Wayne Wang is presenting his 22nd film, Coming Home Again, which follows Changrae (Justin Chon), who is preparing a traditional Korean dinner for his cancer-stricken mother, for what is to be the family’s last New Year’s Eve celebration.

The full line-up will be revealed in two weeks’ time. Here is the list of the first titles announced so far:

Coming Home Again - Wayne Wang (USA/South Korea)
Gipsy Queen - Hüseyin Tabak (Germany/Austria)
Girl With No Mouth - Can Evrenol (Turkey)
Gutterbee - Ulrich Thomsen (Denmark)
Lost Lotus - Liu Shu (China/Netherlands)
Arracht - Tom Sullivan (Ireland)
Through Black Glass - Konstantin Lopushansky (Russia)
When the Moon Was Full - Narges Abyar (Iran)

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