Centrul Astra Film
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Astra Film Festival

Astra Film Festival 2016


OUTSTANDOX brings together 8 films which put forth by way of an outstanding use of the powerful tools of documentary cinema  a dissection of the ingredients and life experiences that shape our structure as individual and collective entities.

DON JUAN, THE DARK GENE and THE NEW MAN approach, by different stylistic means, existential questions regarding the relation between our biological heritage and identity, while dignifiedly re-presenting the out of the ordinary biographies of three protagonists, each struggling, one way or the other, with marginalization. Just like the first two films challenge us in terms of looking into our own possible preconceptions in regard to people suffering from mental health disorders, such as autism or depression, and at once relativize the false boundary between normative constructs and otherness, THE NEW MAN, too, heads in a similar direction. Through a universalizing lens, it deals with a type of story that Queer Cinema generally tends to particularize, namely transcending gender role and identity. Here, instead, the specific matter of this “new man” being socially accepted is integrated as part of the wider picture, of being, first of all, accepted by one’s own family.

Coming to terms with the past ties in, thematically, the whole programme, as can be seen as well in KEEP QUIET or DEPTH TWO, although this reconciliation, however, is measured at a different scale – that of collective recent history. From a narrative perspective, what’s at stake in both cases relies on the humanistic underpinnings of the confrontation between victims and aggressors, revealed through examining the ballet between historical so-called losers and winners involved in collective tragedies such as the Holocaust or the ethnic cleansings from the Balkans during the Kosovo war.

Infringement and protection of Human Rights matters is also a starting point for other films in the programme, such as the ciné-verité-inspired documentary EMPLOYMENT OFFICE or the poetic dystopia DEAD SLOW AHEAD. Although they equally set out to expose labor relations, each of them allegorically and subtly speculates a contemporary state of social skepticism, directed towards two opposing systems: the collapsing model of the welfare state and the adrift fate of capitalism, seen as an alienating piece of machinery. Consequently, the constant reconfiguration process of our nowadays globalized world inevitably impacts the worldview of traditional and once isolated communities, such as the Ilparakuyo Maasai from Tanzania, whose transformation is observed over time in the anthropological documentary CHANGA RVISTED. (Andreea Mihalcea)