First Films

with bonus
Cairo Station (1958)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
73′
Bonus: Why Chahine?
Melodrama and thriller, social drama and love story in one, the masterly feature film by the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, made in 1958, is located entirely on the station grounds. The old Madbouli is the owner of a kiosk at Cairo's main railway station. One day he finds a half-starved, poor man at the edge of the tracks. Madbouli feels sorry for the sad-looking, limping farmer Kenaoui and hires him as a flying newspaper salesman. At work, Kenaoui meets the beautiful Hanouma every day, who also earns her living at the station by supplying travellers with lemonade drinks. Kenaoui falls for the cheerful woman and makes it his goal to marry her. Lonely and in obsessive longing, he cuts out lightly dressed women from magazines in his hut at the edge of the train station in the evening, hanging his walls with them. Although he knows that Hanouma is already promised to the suitcase porter and trade unionist Abou Serih, one day he reveals his feelings to her and proposes to her. Her rejection, soaked with mockery and ridicule, drives Kenawi further into a rage-drenched obsession for Hanuma. Restored version.
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The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
Michail Kalatosow
Russia
91′
Veronika and Boris come together in Moscow shortly before World War II. Walking along the river, they watch cranes fly overhead, and promise to rendezvous before Boris leaves to fight. Boris misses the meeting and is off to the front lines, while Veronika waits patiently, sending letters faithfully. After her house is bombed, Veronika moves in with Boris’ family, into the company of a cousin with his own intentions.
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Class Enemy (2013)
Rok Biček
Slovenia
112′
Due to a huge difference in the way they perceive life, the relationship between the students and their new German language teacher becomes critically tense. When one of the students commits suicide, her classmates accuse the teacher of being responsible for her death. The realisation that things are not so black and white comes too late.
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Herencia (2001)
Paula Hernández
Argentina
92′
Peter travels from Germany to Buenos Aires to find the woman he fell head over heels in love with some time ago and who wants to live with. But he doesn't know much more about her than her name, an address that is no longer true, and the memory of enchanting moments. He meets Olinda, who runs a local restaurant and was herself stranded in Argentina half a century ago in search of her great love.
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The Milk of Sorrow (2009)
Claudia Llosa
Peru
94′
When her mother dies, Fausta is forced to face her fears, that she got as ababy with the milk of her mother. Fausta now sets out on a journey - a journey that will lead her out of her fear and into freedom. Peruvian director Claudia Llosa’s film addresses a dark era of her country’s history. It won the Golden Bear in Berlin and was nominated for the Oscars in 2010.
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Malaria (2016)
Parviz Shahbazi
Iran
89′
A young girl informs her father she’s been kidnapped and asks him to bring the ransom money. Panicked, her father and brothers go to Tehran to look for her. They are unaware, however, that the girl has in fact eloped with her boyfriend and now spends her time in the company of a band of street musicians. Following the arrest of the band leader and full of the love for her boyfriend, the young girl descends an uncertain path.
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Melaza (2012)
Carlos Lechuga
Cuba
82′
Money and love worries of swimming teacher Aldo and rum factory worker Monica in Melaza, the cradle of Cuban sugarcane. With tangible love for Cuba, the director takes a fresh look at his struggling characters: you can also learn to swim in a piscina without water. In the Cuban village of Melaza, named after the once flourishing sugarcane fields, time stands still. Even when all kinds of things happen, nothing ever changes. The State pretends to take care of everything, but it shuts the rum factory and makes swimming lessons impossible. There's no use complaining, think the inhabitants, that’s just how it is. Melaza is the heartwarming love story of Aldo and Monica, a photogenic couple who live in a much too small cottage with their fat daughter and grumpy grandma. They try very hard to earn some extra money. Their attempts finally get the couple into deeper and deeper trouble. But together, the lovers manage to pull through it. New talent Carlos Lechuga tells his critical story with humour and sparse dialogue, taking us on a journey to the beauties of rural Cuba. Far from the hotels and from Havana, but with a reality familiar to everyone who has ever been to Cuba - or faced a shortage of cash. (Filmfestival Rotterdam)
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with bonus
Que tan lejos (2006)
Tania Hermida
Ecuador
91′
Bonus: Interview with Tania Hermida
Self-discovery journey of two girls in their mid twenties while they travel along the Ecuadorian mountains and coasts. Esperanza (Hope) and Tristeza (Sadness) will not find postcard views or perfect love, but their journey will teach them there’s a world beyond that.
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The Other Bank (2010)
George Ovashvili
Georgia
89′
Twelve-year-old Tedo lives with his young mother in Keto in an isolated hut on the outskirts of Tiflis. Tedo and Keto are refugees from Abchasia. The civil war has claimed everything they ever owned, including Tedo’s and Keto’s hopes for a bright future as an intact family unit. Tedo was just four years of age when they were obliged to flee from Abchasia. At the time, they had to leave behind Tedo’s father - his weak heart made it impossible for him to take on such a strenuous journey. Tedo is now an apprentice at a car repair shop and Keto is working as a sales assistant. Tedo gives the few pennies that he earns to his mother so that she no longer has to be nice to strange, unfriendly men. It pains the young boy agreat deal that he cannot earn more of a living for them; moreover, his mother’s moral conduct begins to weigh heavily on him. One day, when he discovers that she has a lover it becomes all too much for him and he decides to return to his father in Abchasia. Perhaps he will find the solution to all his problems there. Tedo meets many people on his journey - and suffers many a blow. He is by no means welcome everywhere. As his journey comes to an end he has acquired many an insight - such as the realisation that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.
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Theeb (2014)
Naji Abu Nowar
Jordan
100′
In the Ottoman province of Hijaz during World War I, a young Bedouin boy experiences a greatly hastened coming of age as he embarks on a perilous desert journey to guide a British officer to his secret destination. In 1916, in the Hejaz Province of the Ottoman Empire, the young Bedouin Theeb (Jacir Eid) is learning from his elder brother Hussein (Hussein Salameh) the skills for everyday survival in their harsh environment. Immersed in a way of life that has endured for centuries, the brothers are unaware of the tremendous upheavals taking place at the fringes of their world: the First World War is raging in Europe, the Ottoman Empire is coming undone, the Great Arab Revolt is brewing, and the British officer T.E. Lawrence is plotting with the Arab Prince Faisal to establish an Arab kingdom. When British officer Edward (Jack Fox) and his Bedouin guide Marji (Marji Audeh) stumble wayward into their tribe's camp, the two brothers' destiny is forever changed. Abiding by the Bedouin custom that guests cannot be refused aid, Hussein is assigned to accompany the two strangers to their destination - with the uninvited Theeb, eager for adventure, following close behind. The ensuing journey, filled with danger and hardship, will result in Theeb's greatly hastened maturation in a culture where a man's honour and righteousness determines his inclusion or expulsion from the community.
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Wolf And Sheep (2016)
Shahrbanoo Sadat
Afghanistan
87′
In rural Afghanistan, people believe in the stories they invent to tell each other, explaining the mysteries of the world, they don’t understand. Shepherd children own the mountains. Even though there are no grown ups around, they know the rules very well; the main one is that boys and girls are not allowed to be together, they have to be separated. The boys practice with their slings to fight the wolves should they attack the flock. The girls smoke dried branches of wheat secretly and play wedding, dreaming of getting a husband soon. They gossip about every one and everything, but mostly about Sediqa, 11, an outsider among the shepherd children. They think she is cursed, as an evil ghost disguised as a snake bewitched her grandmother. Sediqa picks up her sheep and goats every morning and drops them in the owner’s house every evening. She dreams of having a sling and learn to swing it like the boys and hit a wolf. Qodrat, 11, becomes the gossip topic of everyone after his mother remarries with an old man with two wives. He prefers to be alone in the most isolated parts of the mountains. This is where he meets Sediqa and they become friends until Qodrat’s mother has to send him away.
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