Welcome to the blog of the Wales One World Film festival 2013. For the weeks leading up to the festival and everyday during the week long celebration of world cinema that is WOW, we will be previewing events, talking to those behind the festival and it's movies, as well as providing the most definitive reaction to the films on show at the festival. Lends us your ears, words and minds @WOWfilm and @lloydgriffiths

Review - War Witch

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War Witch is set in the Congo but is actually a Canadian production by director Kim Nguyen. It’s the story of 14 year old Komona telling her unborn child the details of the last 2 years of her life. Komona is kidnapped by the rebel army and is forced into being a child soldier to fight their war. During her time in the army she becomes the main commander’s ‘witch’, guiding him and others strategically through her supposed powers. The film tells of the many traumatic events that happen to her but also show times when she found love and solace. It also features some interesting dream-sequence like scenes involving the ‘spirit-guides’ that she hallucinates. This adds to the theme of witchcraft and superstition that runs through the film.

The striking thing about War Witch as a whole was how institutionalised the characters were to the violence that surrounds them. The kidnapping scene that opens the film involves minimal panic, people don’t try to fight back. There is the point that fighting against people with guns is a losing battle for these unprepared village people but their reactions just made the whole affair seem like it was an everyday occurrence. The character’s reactions are the main reason I say this, Komona seems completely emotionless, like she had been expecting this to happen.

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This normalising of violence is also shown through Komona’s voiceover, which runs through the whole film, when she is sexually abused by her commander. Her voice is calm and the horrific events that are happening to her are told in a very matter-of- fact way. Generally speaking, when violence occurs in the film the sound is turned down to almost silence with what sound is left being heavily distorted. This effect adds to the helplessness of individuals not being able to stop the domino effect of violence throughout the film.

The character of ‘The Butcher’, Komona’s husband’s uncle, is an interesting contrast to the violence against humans shown in War Witch. He is a genuine butcher as opposed to rebels and soldiers, clearly shown as ‘butchers of people’. The scene of him preparing the chicken carcasses to be sold with his machete is more violent and shocking than the violence shown against humans. The sound remains normal so you hear the machete hit flesh. The contrast of the almost blasé attitude the characters seem to have to human bloodshed and the emphasized violence against the chicken carcasses is just another way of showing that the value of human life is cheap. Though War Witch is fictional, sadly it is easy to believe that it may be the true story of many a child soldier forced into warfare in Africa.

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The dream sequences/hallucinations were particularly interesting. The ‘spirit-guides’ were African but painted white with white contact lenses. This gave them a very eerie effect, they looked somewhat like marble statues. Though frightening I found them quite aesthetically beautiful. With the sound there was definitely a rhythm running through the film. It was shown through various different mediums of sound such as a boy drumming on the side of a boat of swings of a machete against a tree.

War Witch was a very powerful and unique piece of cinema that appeared to show a realistic portrayal of a child soldier in Africa but weaved in a fairy tale like magic to soften some of the more hard to take truths.

Kate Tinson.

Review - Nostalgia for the Light

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Theodor Adorno’s much misquoted line “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” has a harrowing resonance at certain points in Patricio Guzman’s Nostalgia for the Light. At moments in his interviews with widowed wives who search the desolate plains of Chile’s Atacama desert for fragments of their loved ones bones, one is struck by the almost incomprehensible tragedy of the situation. These women’s husbands are buried - somewhere under the endless, barren sands as a result of General Pinochet’s killing of political opponents. How can something so irrevocably tragic be met with more than sombre silence? 

It is a triumph that Nostalgia for the Light allows the pain of Chile’s past  to make sense on it’s own terms - that the dialectic between those wives who search beneath the desert’s surface and the Astrologers who look into the void of the cosmos doesn’t universalise or diminish the gritty, visceral historical pain of the former. The film introduces this to us as we see the alien, desolate plains of the Atacama offering the perfect site for Astrology in the late 1970’s - we see Scientists dreaming of other worlds, the film tempting us to wonder into the sparkling infinite above their heads. 

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The images of space are dazzlingly beautiful but we also see slow, meditative shots of the Atacama from above, and much of the cinematography, even amongst some scenes on the ground feel augmented by the sheer magnitude of the cosmos. It never feels reverent or elegiac of this fact though; the testimonies of the wives are numbingly direct - “I just want to find him [my husband] before I die”.

There is a kind of poetic link made between the Astrologers and the overwhelming tragedy and almost Sisyphean task that the women who continually seek amongst the endless desert undertake. They both search into a nothingness almost absurd in it’s immensity. At one point, one of the wives says she wishes there could be telescopes that could look down and discover the incomplete histories beneath their feet - discover the otherwise curbed agonies deprived of a history as they lay under the vast Atacama.

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In many ways, this is what Guzman has done - the poetic hugeness of space and humans place within it is how many of the Astrologers deal with their loss, one saying it has “given another dimension to the pain”. Astrology is not an escape but a way of affirming the human need for remembrance and memory and this film is both commemoration and an act of that. By the time we reach the film’s most literal evocation of the past - a gradual shot looking at fading pictures of missing persons, the image feels movingly real, a credit to the exemplary direction of Guzman, who has made a documentary of extraordinary immediacy - giving contemplative yet cinematic and symbolic life to a history which deserves it in every way possible.

Lloyd Griffiths.

Review - Wadjda

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Wadjda tells a typical childhood tale of a rebellious 10 year old girl’s quest to buy her very own bicycle in the not so typical setting of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As the first feature length film to be shot in the country by its first female director Haifaa al-Mansour, the film is certainly a step into unfamiliar territory. Questioning the viewer’s perceptions of the unknown as much as holding up a mirror against the society from which the film is shot, this is a heart-warming but poignant debut from a young and promising director.

As an audience we are immediately drawn to the mischievous and vivacious Wadjda, who is played by the captivating Waad Mohammed. The converse wearing, money making, head scarf loosing youngster, weaves through the demarcated spaces of Saudi life with an innocence and naivety that often comes into conflict with the Islamic power structures which frame her society.

Determined to buy a bicycle (a toy deemed only appropriate for boys) so she can beat her young friend Abdullah at racing, Wadjda enters a Koranic singing competition at school to require the prize money needed. As she devotes her time to winning the competition, we are given glimpses of the ultra conservative nature of Saudi Arabian life which not only makes her quest difficult, but questions the freedoms of her identity.

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This is a world where women must at all costs avoid being seen by men in public, and where wives must accept the possibility that they might be one of many wives to their husbands. Issues of gender equality play a central role in this movie as Wadjda, her mother, her headmistress and her peers play pivotal roles in emphasising the numerous negative and positive relationships women share within the matrix of culture, religion and identity.

Throughout her quest Wadjda maintains a positive attitude and her optimism and resilience give her the confidence to be herself. Key to her strength is her relationship with her mother whose guidance and discipline acts as a mediator between the two worlds of liberalism and conservativism. 

Although the film deals with the difficulties of being a woman in such a strict society, not only does the narrative of the film hint of the possibility for change, but the fact the film itself was allowed to be made suggests that the conservative binds which tie this country together might be loosening. 
It’s easy to see why this debut has earned praise at the Cannes Festival and hopefully this will not be the last film to give a fascinating insight into the everyday social world of Saudi Arabia.

Geraint Rhys.

Review - Machuca

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Machuca was the opening film of an excellent night of Chilean film making on offer on Friday 15th March at Chapter arts centre in Cardiff. Machuca is based in Chile during the time Allende’s presidency and the coup d’état that caused the fall of his government. However, the twist is that Machuca follows three very different children and their experience of the time. The film explores the vast social gulf between the characters and relates that back to the social gulf between many of the supporters of Allende and Pinochet.

Gonzalo (Matías Quer) is a rich boy going to an expensive private school, Pedro (Ariel Mateluna) lives in a shanty-town but joins the school through a charitable scheme and Silvana (Manuela Martelli) is a friend of Pedro’s from the shanty-town who is involved in the pro-Allende/Communist movement. The films explores how all three become friends and due to their differences are exposed to situations which they are socially unused to but attempt to rise above together.

I felt that using children to explore the very adult themes of the film was very effective as it made the film easier to watch. Though there were parts of the film that were deeply harrowing they were often softened by the use of the children’s viewpoints. However getting you to emotionally connect with the children, they were so well acted and endearing that it was impossible not to, meant that when the film really did want to get the message about the danger and destruction of the time it really hit you hard.

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Andrés Wood’s direction was excellent as shown by the performances of the three non-professional child actors. There were some really fantastically shot scenes such as the kissing scene with the condensed milk (you now must see the film, if only to understand that reference!). Some interesting effects were also used, ‘safe’ scenes were tinted with yellow and more ‘dangerous’ scenes were tinted in black. The whole film also had a grainier effect to it, shot so it would feel like footage from that era which really helped to keep the whole thing in period.

Also interesting was the use of sound in Machuca. The soundtrack was fantastic and incidental music always added to the scenes. There were also several occasions where silence was used beautifully or other sounds were increased to heighten the anticipation of things to come.
A segment of the film 11.09.01 – September 11 by director Ken Loach was shown before the main feature. It showed a Chilean man recalling the similarities between the coup d’etat that caused the fall of Allende and the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. For someone with little knowledge of Chilean social history, this film being shown before Machuca was very helpful in understanding the context of events. This short in itself was in an interesting documentary style with all the heartfelt emotion that we have come to expect from Ken Loach.  

Machuca is thoroughly enjoyable, exposing the audience to a history little know but also had a sensitive and entertaining storyline to guide you through the film.

Kate Tinson.

Review - No

No, Pablo Larrain’s fourth feature film documenting the advertising campaign that brought down a dictatorship has become an unprecedented international success. From winning the Art Cinema Award at Cannes to gaining Chile’s first Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination, No has been wowing audiences across the world, but many people still don’t know quite what to make of it. It has been praised by some as ‘the Chilean Mad Men’, a darkly comic exploration of the advertising world, while prominent Chilean political scientist Claudio Fuentes criticised the film as a betrayal of the collective effort of the Chilean people to end dictatorship. In that way, No is very similar to the divisive advertising campaign it portrays.

Based on the unpublished play El Plebiscito (The Referendum), written by Antonio Skármeta, No is both an exploration of a pivotal event in Chilean history and a deeply ironic look at the modern advertising industry. In 1973 General Pinochet ousted socialist president Salvador Allende in a vicious coup d’état, establishing himself as dictator via executions, torture, arrests and disappearances (events which are seen through the eyes of children in Andrés Wood’s 2004 Machuca also showing at WOW). Fifteen years later, in October 1988, Pinochet, under increasing pressure to legitimise his regime in the eyes of international forces, decides to hold a referendum on whether he should remain President or call a general election.

Both those in power on the extreme right, and the opposition on the left believe that Pinochet will certainly win, that the referendum is only for show, but one advertising executive who doesn’t know how to lose is determined to change that. René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal, captivating as always) is more used to selling soft drinks of soap operas than socialists, but he knows how to make people want his product and will risk everything – even his family – to guarantee a NO win. No seamlessly blends low definition filming with actual footage from the time, bringing to life all the tensions, fears and cautious hopes of this historic moment.

However, while the fall of the dictatorship (I hope this isn’t a spoiler for anyone!) was undoubtedly a moment to be celebrated, No is bitter sweet, because it also marks the moment when Latin American politics, which has always been marked by populism, became irrevocably dominated by the power of television, advertising, image and propaganda. In the words of Claudio Fuentes, in the process of bringing down the dictatorship, ‘ideals were compromised, principles were renounced’.

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Since then, Latin American leaders have relied on these techniques to win and remain in power, as well as legitimising or covering up their excesses and abuses. No-one knew this better than Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late charismatic and polemic president who ‘rule[d] by television’, knowing this was the way to legions of adoring fans. As well as a ‘Chilean Mad Men, an involving personal drama and a snapshot of one of the most important moments in recent Chilean history, then, No is also a fascinating insight into how an advertising campaign forever altered Latin American politics.

Katie Brown.

 

Here We Go!

So, it’s finally here! WOW kicks the doors of our cinematic minds open from tonight, as it celebrates, commemorates and considers the Chilean landscape, political and literal, in the light of 40 years since Allende’s government was overthrown by General Pinochet. A duo of beautiful Chilean works will be showing tonight (15th March) at Cardiff’s Chapter arts centre, and with demand meaning the films have migrated from the planned 59 seater to Chapter’s full auditorium, there is a sense of buzz around the vital, insightful and delightful movies.

At 8.30 is Machuca, a lovely coming of set in the period when Allende’s government was being overthrown. A look at what may have been lost in the fall of the socialist government, it’s nonetheless a delicate portrayal of two boys who’s differing family backgrounds threaten their friendship.

"An eloquent and moving tale on the tragedy of a society that attacks its own and humanises difficult ideas of political loyalty" BBC

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In addition, audiences in Aberystwyth (21st March) and Mold (3rd, 4th April) will get to glimpse the 3rd of Pablo Larrain’s set of films about Pinochet era Chile, in No. It has been variously been described as the “Chilean Made Men” as well as “bloodpumping, arthouse yet ambivalent”. If those multiple descriptions lead you no closer to understanding its thought-provoking drama-cum-marketing satire, then our review up in the next few days will. 

We are particularly excited to see Nostalgia for the Light's tale of Astrology, Philosophy, Politics and Tragedy at 6pm tonight. It's a meditation on the Atacama desert's dual tales - one of its position in the late 1970's as a key place for Astrological studies, yet conversely, as the site of bodies of political prisoners buried in the sand as a result of the Chacabuco concentration camps. 

The former offers metaphysical comfort to those who have lost loved ones, the almost Malickian images of the sky and desert offering an irreducible beauty and vastness that subsume the deeply felt personal tragedy which is painfully clear. Nonetheless, Astrology is not a metaphorical sleight of hand by director Patricio Guzman - the pain of those who are interviewed, still searching for family members bodies is stark - there is little comfort in searching the immense grandeur of the desert for them.

The evening is being accompanied by Chilean food, drink and music, all presented by Chilean 40 Years On Network and EL Sueno Existe festival. See you there!

The Horror! The Horror! Sean Terry charts the history of dread at the movies via the Psychoanalyst’s chair, and asks why foreign genre cinema seems to be out in front.

Since its inception the horror genre has been cinema’s greatest weapon against the viewer, transforming each seat into a lonely psychiatrist’s chair and each screen into an unflinching mirror that reflects the collective subconscious of society. The horror film projects the repressed desires and inner turmoil of humanity as a whole, crossing cultural divides and acting as a global communicator of fear.  However, the genre’s lasting appeal has been thrown into doubt in recent years, particularly in western mainstream releases where there is a tendency for cheap scares and a navel-gazing post-modernism which borders on the satirical rather than an attempt to create anything with real substance. Thankfully, world cinema has pulled its blood-soaked socks up and is bringing the fight back to our senses with films that prove that horror is not dead, or if it is dead, it’s definitely still out to get you.

   Early German expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari pioneered the transition of themes found historically in art and literature to the moving image, establishing the link between horror and psychoanalysis as well as identifying the genre as an adept tool for social commentary. Hollywood would continue on from the Europeans by producing films heavily influenced by gothic literature although with more emphasis placed on entertainment value.

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   Even if the studios did not intend grand ideas of psychological exploration within these early movies, there was no avoiding the allure of the genre to academic discussion. Monsters in film have particularly been found relative to an examination of the Freudian theory of the uncanny, the theory being a twist on Ernst Jentsch’s interpretation of the term who felt it pertains to a fear of the unfamiliar, whereas Freud argued that the meaning is a repressed concept of what is in fact familiar; a return of the known, though projected in some alien form to the individual. Begging the question of what we really are afraid of when we look into the eyes of the re-animated corpse of Frankenstein’s monster or the transmogrified wolf man.

   Horror’s undoubted strength as a device of allegory and its depictions of the fantastical, nightmarish and surreal have proven the genre to be a fountain of material to sociologists and psychologists alike. The genre has developed across the world and adapted to cultural changes in society to reflect not only the fear that the individual experiences but that of the country as a whole. Take the rich, suspense-filled, quixotic horror of Italian Dario Argento, for example. His films, notably Suspiria and Deep Red, were from the Giallo genre, his bold visual style and squelching goriness giving the mystery and crime-thriller antecedents of the genre a libidinous, colourful and excessive sense of the macabre. They have a palpable feel for the supernatural about them and an intriguing particularity which is a pulp-y and visceral thrill given the suffocating ubiquity of western horror’s shock-tactic realism.

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    With the emergence of the digital age, international terrorism and economic globalisation, modern world horror now finds a new kind of appeal to international audiences having transcended any sort of alienation of a non-native audience through a potential ignorance of contextual knowledge. Immigration and invasion are common themes within the wave of new French extremity films such as À l’intérieu’r and Martyrs, themes that can be identified by not only the French but by all nationalities in this smaller, more connected world we live in. What does it say of the Americans, who dominated the horror genre through most of the twentieth century, that the quality of its output has taken a notable turn for the worse since the dawn of this new age of interconnectivity?

    So. Why has mainstream horror turned so stale in the last ten years? One reason could be that we’ve grown tired of endless remakes. It leaves you wondering where did the originality go? Well, it went abroad, showing up in films like The Host and A Tale of Two Sisters, Asian films which are full of intelligence and pathos. It’s present in Spanish films which showcase both the old-school creepiness and the more contemporary, exotic sides of horror such as The Devils Backbone and The Skin I Live In. Even the Greeks are laying new ground in what defines a horror film with Dogtooth, a disturbing story of a family intentionally cut off from the rest of the world.

   It would be wrong of me to identify a lack of originality as the sole reason why we’re not seeing as many great English language horror films as we used to though. It may be partly due to the success of the horror genre itself which has led to western releases becoming ever more self-aware, constantly referencing the history of the genre and the imprint it has left on the cultural lexicon.

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   The nostalgia of that iconography has choked horror’s most powerful attribute which is to be current and a reflection of the socio-political climate of the time. Films like Scream 4, Trick or treat and Cabin in the Woods are entertaining yet feel trapped in a postmodern void which does nothing to progress the medium. On the other hand, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games is an English language film which clearly makes every effort to remind you that you are watching a fictional narrative, complete with horror film clichés but manages to be fresh, exciting and most importantly, terrifying.

   The problem could be that we just don’t scare that easily anymore. We see more violence on the 10 o’ clock news that we tend to see in most films these days. This de-sensitisation to violence, especially in the younger generation, has meant that more films are beginning to resort to a tedious game of peak-a-boo where somebody with a scary face hides just outside the frame of the camera and jumps out after a protracted silence; see Insidious or Sinister. On a positive note however, horror is timeless and cinema is still in its relative infancy as an art form so there’s still a lot more to see. The genre’s unique ability to blend a mix of the contemporary with the arcane ensures us that as the world changes so will our horror films and they’ll still be able to terrify. Although there has been a lull in significant western horror since the turn of the century, there are some amazing films being made abroad which is why world cinema and its promotion through film festivals is so vitally important.

Sean Terry.

Review - Living in the Future

Robyn Hobbs reviews the pre-WOW documentary screened at Chapter about ‘Lammas’, a unique eco-village being built in Pembrokeshire. 

Lammas , roughly translated as ‘loaf mass’ , refers to the celebration of the first Grain Harvest, a union of sun and earth and of a celebration and respect for the abundance of the land we live upon. It is highly relevant then that this is the name of the project that supports the Eco Village ’Tir y Gafel’ (the first legal Eco Village in England and Wales) featured in ‘Living In The Future’.

"Under the TAN 6 Policy Guidance (Welsh Assembly Government), there is now a planning framework which accommodates low-impact development. Lammas is at the forefront if this movement and points the way to the future by providing an educational resource and encouraging those considering this way of life to volunteer at the site."

(http://www.lammas.org.uk )

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The highly informative documentary is the work of Helen Miles - co founder of UndercurrentsHelen’s passion for a sustainable form of living is evident throughout - We are taken on a journey from the project’s roots and through its blossoming development. The film does not hide away from the frustrations sometimes experienced by the project’s founders/residents, particularly surrounding planning permission issues. It balances well the challenges of upheaval with the satisfaction of the  fruition of the project.

Pivotal to the project’s success, I found, was the need of the villagers to prove they could support their everyday needs through using the land. The film covered the progress of this honestly and gave me confidence that this will happen whilst it is true that many of the villagers are a part of the hustle and bustle of the outside world and politics, some having outside careers.

Helen examines the concept of forming a new community - While the path was not always smooth, a community was indeed developing. Although very much in its infancy, there was a pleasing sense of interdependence both within the village (bartering being highlighted) and co-existence with the outside world. Lammas also addressed the need for a community through the support of a community hub. 

The project shows clearly that its model of sustainable living can work (even from its beginnings, it gave new life to intensely grazed land) and the village and its residents clearly integrated their surroundings (the architecture of the houses use a combination of recycled and natural materials).  It gives me hope that the Earth can be used more effectively and sensitively when catering for our rapidly growing population. Realistically we need to create space & Llamas provides an alternative platform from which to do this.

I am confident that this model for living could allow us to return to living in synergy with the land (allowing it to regenerate and provide for us and support a movement away from current intensive developments): 

“Low-impact development is development which, by virtue of its low or benign environmental impact, may be allowed in locations where conventional development is not permitted”.

Robyn Hobbs.

Imagining life complexly: Studio Ghibli and the films of Hayao Miyazaki

Kids in the Western world grow up with Winnie the Pooh. Kids in Japan have Totoro.

If you haven’t heard of Totoro, he’s that big bear/rabbit thing that you might see hanging from a keychain on the backpacks of super kawaii anime enthusiasts, or sheltering under a rain-sodden leaf via animated GIFs on your Tumblr dashboard. He’s big and fluffy and loveable. You’ll know him when you see him: he even had a cameo role in Toy Story 3.

Totoro is the most iconic character to bounce gleefully from the mind of writer/animator Hayao Miyazaki, who might be thought of as Japan’s Walt Disney. One of the co-founders of animation giants Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s imagination is responsible for the bedroom walls of millions of Japanese kids.

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Then again, Ghibli’s films aren’t only aimed at children: this is a different kind of cartoon, defined not only defined by a distinctly Japanese anime style, but also by highly imaginative, cross-generational subject matter.

These films exemplify Miyazaki’s refusal to draw a simple distinction between good and bad

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) is, at first glance, a kids’ movie – two young girls move house and discover an enchanted camphor tree inhabited by the titular fluffy neighbour and two similarly fuzzy chums. Innocent indeed, but unlike Disney features of the same era (The Little Mermaid in 1989, for example), there’s a poignant playoff between fantasy and real life in Ghibli films that avoids the dumbed down Western narrative of good vs evil.

Take the case study of Satsuki, one of the young heroines in Totoro, who clearly recognises the concept of death in the way that she deals with her ailing mother. Instead of dwelling on the mortality of the situation or constructing an unrealistic baddie to represent the troubles in the protagonist’s life, Miyazaki creates Totoro as a coping mechanism for the protagonist. Imaginary or not, Satsuki’s new friend allows her to continue engaging a childlike naiveté whilst she takes on stresses and responsibilities that belie her young age.


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Another Ghibli classic, Princess Mononoke (1997), exemplifies Miyazaki’s refusal to draw a distinction between good and bad. It would have been easy for him to pitch the character of Lady Eboshi as a universal villain – the industrialist leader of the expanding city ‘Irontown’ seeks to clear-cut beautiful forests, home to wildlife and legendary Shinto Gods (snarling wolves and wild boars, rather than the Heaven/Hell stereotypes in Hercules or wise-cracking genie in Aladdin).

She may be the catalyst of a violent civil war between nature and humanity, but the writer/director makes it clear that Eboshi is only doing right by her people. Irontown is a refuge for lepers and ex-prostitutes, and the film’s most likely contender for antagonist is actually a philanthropic humanitarian. The challenge in Princess Mononoke, then, is in finding a way for nature to thrive in harmony with civilisation. Creating good guys and bad guys would merely simplify a multifaceted issue, one that’s even more poignant today than it was sixteen years ago on the film’s release.

These are culturally resonant films, encouraging young audiences to imagine life complexly

These are culturally resonant films, encouraging young audiences to imagine life complexly. Look to Ghibli’s more recent output, which gives imaginative new life to classic subject material (2010’s Arriety, for example, is a Japan-ified reinvention of Mary Norton’s The Borrowers). Such films illustrate how traditional storytelling can work in creative conjunction with cinema, projecting inspirational morals and timeless ideologies without losing their cinematic magic.


Matt Ayres

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Welcome to Wales One World Festival 2013. After weeks of excited discussion, planning and of course watching, I’m glad to say that WOW’s fast approaching horizon means we can finally begin to bring you the best in previews, exclusive interviews and informed comment here at the WOW blog. With just a fortnight to go until the festival officially opens at Chapter arts centre on March 15, we will be cramming in as much cinematic edification and filmic foresight as we can without endangering fingertips. 

Before I introduce some of the things the blog will be covering, you may rightly ask, what is Wales One World? Well simply, it is a World cinema festival. And it’s in Wales. Go figure. In years past, the festival has sought out the finest strands of world film, finding authentic and inspiring work from dozens of countries  - from Patagonian road movies and Tibetan coming-of-age epics, to stunning animation and brutally honest documentaries. We’re running this blog for the 2nd year running as a complement and testament to these, aiming to provide context and comment on the intriguing intricacies of the films, directors and countries on show. As Wim Wenders (more on him another time) said, “cinema is a worldwide phenomenon” and we will try and shine a light on what makes the cinema of the stories and countries before us unique and purposeful.

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The festival is taking place across Wales in Cardiff, Mold, Swansea, Milford Haven, Aberystwyth and Cardigan, so whichever corner of our country you’re from, we’d love to hear your thoughts on WOW - what films are eagerly anticipated and why.

Amongst the happenings on this humble blog will be a look at Chilean cinema - including a glimpse of the third part of Pablo Larrain’s trilogy of films about Pinochet era Chile, No - a powerful and thought-provoking drama-cum-marketing satire about the referendum and ad campaign which ended the General’s rule. As I’m writing this on St. David’s Day it would be remiss of me not to mention features we have on the relationship between Welsh and World cinema. Patagonia launched WOW with it’s premiere in 2011 and we will be looking at it and Gruff Rhys’ magical-realist road movie Seperado, which both in their own way reinvigorate the Welsh-Argentinian region as a powerful myth for modern Wales.

Of course, this year’s programme is the main reason to get enthused. From Saudi Arabian feminist tales (Wadjda), defiant looks at occupied Palestine (5 Broken Cameras) to domestic Lynchian experimentalism (Post Tenebras Lux, winner best director at Cannes for Carlos Reygadas), there are reams of quality on offer, and we’ll do our utmost to cover it all through reviews and interviews with those that made the films happen.

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For the most up to date information and news on the festival, including film times, details of where to buy a coveted week long WOW passport and events related to the festival such as the opening night of Chilean food, drink n’ music, bounce over to http://www.wowfilmfestival.com/. 

Before all the above, this week we be looking at international animated films, with a feature on Japanese anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli and on other enchanting animated gems. If you want to contribute to the blog, get in touch above tweet at us on @wowfilm or @lloydgriffiths. 

Lloyd Griffiths.

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Pictures - Nostalgia for the Light, (Patrico Guzman, Chile, 2010), No, (Pablo Larrain, Chile, USA, Mexico, 2012) and Mama Africa, (Mika Kaurismaki, Finland, Germany, South Africa, 2011).