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March 14th–20th, 2016 / Cinema Muzeul Țăranului, Cinema Elvire Popesco, Universitatea Națională de Muzică / the 6th edition

BIEFF 2016 Opening and Closing Galas: New Features by Sokurov and Greenaway

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Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF 2016 opened five days ago with a highly anticipated event: the Romanian premiere of the latest feature by celebrated avant-garde Russian filmmaker, Aleksandr SokurovFrancofonia, winner of the Best Euro-Mediterranean Film Prize at the Venice International Film Festival. Having been sold out days in advance, the opening gala screening - possible thanks to the kind support of Transilvania Film and Films Boutique - had a full house.

Widely acclaimed in prestigious film festivals all over the world (Toronto, San Sebastian, Thessaloniki, British Film Institute BFI London Film Festival etc), Francofonia is the story of two remarkable men, Louvre director Jacques Jaujard and Nazi Occupation officer Count Wolff-Metternich - first enemies, then collaborators - whose alliance would be the driving force behind the preservation of museum treasures. Francofonia explores the relationship between art and power, the Louvre museum as a living example of civilization, and what art tells us about ourselves even in the midst of one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has ever seen.
According to The Guardian: “Francofonia is a fascinating essay and meditation on art, history and humanity’s idea of itself”. According to The Telegraph: “The past, present and future of art collide beautifully in Russian master Aleksandr Sokurov’s uniquely strange new film. (...) Almost impossible to categorise –Francofonia falls somewhere between documentary, essay film and video art installation – and Sokurov deploys a mixture of audio-visual forms, including archive footage, both authentic and manipulated; still photographs; paintings; diagrams and voiceover, as well as the expected sinuous Steadicam glides around portraiture and sculpture.”
Throughout his vast filmography – documentary, fiction and others somewhere in between – Sokurov (the master director of Faust (Venice Golden Lion), Russian Ark, Moloch and Mother and Son) has demonstrated that a museum is much more than a place to preserve art. Museums are the veritable DNA of a civilization, the living organ of the city where the heart of a nation beats. Against the backdrop of the Louvre Museum’s history and artworks, Sokurov applies his unique personal vision onto staged re-enactments and archives for a fascinating portrait of the two real-life characters and their compulsory collaboration at the Louvre Museum under the Nazi Occupation.
Talking about his latest work, Sokurov comments: “What would Paris be without the Louvre, or Russia without the Hermitage, those indelible national landmarks? Let’s imagine an ark on the ocean, with people and great works of art aboard – books, pictures, music, sculpture, more books, recordings, and more. The ark’s timbers cannot resist and a crack has appeared. What will we save? The living? Or the mute, irreplaceable testimonies to the past? Francofonia is a requiem for what has perished, a hymn to human courage and spirit, and to what unites mankind.”

This Sunday, the BIEFF 2016 Closing Gala will offer an exciting and highly provocative event: the Romanian premiere of Peter Greenaway’s - BIEFF's Honorific President - latest work: the erotically charged and artfully crafted Eisenstein in Guanajuato, premiered last year at the Berlin International Film Festival and screened in Bucharest with the kind support of Films Boutique.

According to the prestigious magazine Variety: “An outrageously unconventional and deliriously profane biopic that could take decades to be duly appreciated. (...) Set in Mexico during the '10 days that shook' Russia’s greatest silent filmmaker, Eisenstein in Guanajuato marks Peter Greenaway’s raucous attempt to capture his all-time cinema idol at his moment of greatest personal discovery and deepest professional frustration — which, the film takes great delight in suggesting, coincided with the loss of his virginity, at age 33, so far from his (still) homophobic homeland. According to Ioncinema.com: “Greenaway has lost none of his edge. At the age of 72, British auteur filmmaker maintains his ability to amaze. Ever the provocative experimentalist, he belongs to a rare class of director, one who manages to delight and confound, challenge and dismay even into his later period of film making”.
In 1931, at the height of his artistic powers, Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein travels to Mexico to shoot a new film to be titled Que Viva Mexico. Freshly rejected by Hollywood and under increasing pressure to return to Stalinist Russia, Eisenstein arrives at the city of Guanajuato. Chaperoned by his guide Palomino Cañedo, he vulnerably experiences the ties between Eros and Thanatos, sex and death, happy to create their effects in cinema, troubled to suffer them in life. Peter Greenaway’s film explores the mind of a creative genius facing the desires and fears of love, sex and death through ten passionate days that helped shape the rest of the career of one of the greatest masters of Cinema.

Peter Greenaway is one of the key voices of avant-garde contemporary cinema, one of the most ambitious and controversial experimental filmmakers of our times. Trained as a painter and heavily influenced by theories of structural linguistics, ethnography, and philosophy, Greenaway's films traversed often unprecedented ground, consistently exploring the boundaries of the medium by rejecting formal narrative structures in favor of awe-striking imagery, shifting meanings, and mercurial emotional tension, fascinated by formal symmetries and parallels, earning equal notoriety for its provocative eroticism, as well as its almost self-conscious pretentiousness. He has an impressive body of work, consisting of 16 feature films and 50 short films and documentaries regularly nominated for major film festivals like Cannes, Venice and Berlin, exhibitions, visual installations, paintings, books, opera librettos. His first feature film, The Draughtsman’s Contract, completed in 1982, received enormous critical acclaim and established him internationally as one of the most original and important filmmakers of our times, a reputation consolidated by his following films, of which we mention The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, The Pillow Book, The Tulse Luper Suitcases, more recently Nightwatching and Rembrandt’s J'Accuse and the latest Goltzius And The Pelican Company.

The 6th edition of Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF takes place between March 14th – 20th, 2016.
BIEFF is honoured and grateful to receive support and inspiration from its partners: Quinzaine des Réalisateurs Cannes, Berlinale Forum Expanded, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Oberhausen Film Festival, IDFA Amsterdam Paradocs, Centre Pompidou, Le Fresnoy - Studio National des Arts Contemporains, Cinedans - Dance on Screen Festival Amsterdam, Tampere Film Festival, Sixpackfilm Austria, LIMA, Portugal Film and EYE Film Institute Netherlands.
BIEFF would not be possible without the support of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the Austrian Cultural Forum, Goethe-Institut Bukarest, British Council, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Embassy of Israel, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Switzerland, Swiss Sponsors' Fund, the French Institute in Bucharest, Instituto Cervantes, Balassi Institute, Italian Cultural Institute, Dacia, TNT, JTI, NouMax, MDV, UniFrance, German Films, the National University of Theatre and Film Bucharest, the National University of Arts Bucharest, the National University of Music Bucharest, the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the Romanian Filmmakers' Union, Cinelab Romania, MUBI, National Dance Centre Bucharest, Săptămâna Sunetului, Journey Pub, Control Club, Lente & cafea, Lara Zankoul Photography; ticketing by Eventbook.
Media partners: TVR, HotNews, Radio România Cultural, Radio Tanănana, Zile și Nopți, Cinemap, Cinemagia, CinemaRx, LiterNet, The Romania Journal, Societatesicultura.ro, Revista Arta, The Institute, VICE, Think Outside the Box, SUB25.ro, Decât o Revistă, Psychologies.ro, Graphic Front, Revista Arte & Meserii, Café Gradiva, PoliticALL, Igloo, Ziarul Metropolis, B365, Cinefan, All about Romanian Cinema, IQads, Cărturești, Cooperativa Urbană, Urban.ro, PostModern, TeenPress, PLIC – o revistă, @FILM, Movienews.ro, Acoperișul de sticlă.