USA, 2006, 141 min
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Rio Kase, Shidou Nakamura
Sixty-two years ago, American and Japanese troops fought each other on Iwo Jima. Decades later, hundreds of letters were found buried beneath the island's barren surface. These letters give faces and voices to the men who were led into battle by an extraordinary general.
The Japanese soldiers who were sent to Iwo Jima knew that they would probably not return. One of them is the baker Saigo, who is determined to live to see his new-born daughter. Among the other soldiers are Baron Nishi, gold medallist in horsemanship at the 1936 Olympic games; an idealistic ex-cop named Shimizu, and Lieutenant Ito, who is committed to the Japanese cause. They all receive their orders from Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, a worldly intellectual, who has travelled the USA. Thanks to a brilliant strategy, he manages to delay by forty days his troops' defeat at the hands of the superior American forces. But there's a high price to pay. At the end of the battle, 7,000 American and over 20,000 Japanese soldiers were to meet their deaths on Iwo Jima.
The battle was made legendary by a photograph of an American soldier hoisting the US flag. Reproduced hundreds of times, this photograph was to become an iconic image of the war in the Pacific. The story of how this photograph was taken is at the centre of Eastwood's last film, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA now follows the story of this bitter struggle from a Japanese perspective.
Germany, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Italy, 2006, 117 min
Director: Bille August
Cast: Joseph Fiennes, Diane Kruger, Dennis Haysbert
Screenings at the festival
South Africa 1968. Twenty-five million blacks are ruled by a minority of four million whites under the brutal Apartheid regime of the Nationalist Party Government. Blacks have no vote, no land rights, no rights to freedom of movement, to equitable commerce, to housing, or to education. The whites ban all black opposition organisations, forcing their leaders into exile or, like Nelson Mandela, imprisoning them for life on Robben Island.
Like most white Afrikaners, James Gregory regards blacks as inferior, lowerclass citizens, despite the fact that he grew up also speaking their tribal tongue on a farm in the Transkei. Due to his proficiency with the Xhosa language, he is the ideal choice to become the warder in charge of Nelson Mandela and his comrades at Robben Island. After all, by speaking their language, he can spy on them without them ever knowing it. However the plan ultimately backfires. With Mandela's influence, Gregory slowly be comes aware of the injustices and crimes of his own people. Despite everything he was taught to believe about the blacks and even his wife's pleas for him to stay away from their cause, Gregory's allegiance gradually shifts from the racist government to the struggle for a free South Africa.
In memoria di me
In Memory Of Myself
Italy, 2007, 118 min
Director: Saverio Costanzo
Cast: Christo Jivkov, Filippo Timi, Marco Baliani, André Hennicke, Fausto Russo Alesi
Finding himself in an existential crisis, Andrea decides to join a monastery. The young man embarks upon a novitiate, during which the order will examine whether he is genuinely called to join the order and take his vows. As the priests instruct him in matters of belief, Andrea discovers that there is more to the religious community of priests, monks, novices and retired clergy than silence and prayer. The monastery becomes a universe, in which every look and every sound seems to suggest intrigue, since the novices are asked to point out any weaknesses they are able to detect in the others. To him, his life of prayers, rituals and hours of reading is characterised by constant surveillance and continuous questioning. At the same time, the novices do their best to abandon themselves, and by so doing, find their way to God. Yet, in spite of considerable support from the abbot, Andrea fails this mystic test of his true belief, and decides to put the order behind him. A venture that others have attempted before him ...