Road movies

Without Identifying Features - Sin señas particulares
Fernanda Valadez
Mexico
99′
Magdalena hasn’t heard from her son in months — not since he left their town to cross the border into the United States. The authorities want her to sign her son’s death certificate, but an encounter with a bereaved parent makes Magdalena realize that she cannot live without knowing his fate. She begins an odyssey across Mexico, though areas of violence and desolation, chasing any available lead despite being warned not to publicly ask such questions. Along the way, she meets and travels with recently deported Miguel, who finds himself journeying home through a changed country. Grappling with the painful issue of migrants disappearing on their way to the U.S., writer/director Fernanda Valadez’s ambitious feature debut employs a tremendous economy of film language as it traverses across a varied contemporary Mexican landscape, expanding as our emotional experience of Magdalena’s journey swells to meet her own. The solemn Sin Señas Particulares punctuates its contemplation of family and loss with fleeting moments of human connection, allowing one woman’s aching personal story to encapsulate the weight of a tremendous real-world humanitarian crisis.
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with bonus
Que tan lejos (2006)
Tania Hermida
Ecuador
91′
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 Beekeeper - O melissokomos (1986)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
122′
In THE BEEKEEPER, alienation and despair have so mestastasized in the film's central figure that he's virtually one of the walking dead. Spyros, a man soured by a secret, incestuous love for his daughter, on the day of her wedding, gives up his position as a schoolteacher, his wife, his home and his city to take up again the profession of his father and grandfather before him traveling across Greece to the town in which he was born and first learned to tend the bees, following the traditional beekeeper's route, looking for flowers that will produce the best honey, a wanderer obsessed by his job. Like a bee returning to its hive after searching for food he visits his old friends and his childhood home looking for threads to bind him to the present. He drives from town to town revisiting his old haunts and comrades relighting and reliving his history in his memory, trying to reconcile his past ideals with a swiftly changing nation that makes him feel uncomfortable. At some point he picks up a promiscuous young hitchhiker who sporadically tags along with him during his journey and seems to represent a new generation without memory and unconcerned with the past, drifting from one place to the next, flitting between the blinking lights of motor vehicles, gas stations, diners, cheap hotels and traffic signs along the dark, wet glistening roadways of present-day Greece. He becomes obsessed by her. She both irritates and entices him. What he seeks in her is a contact with the future. But for her the future is a casual encounter with the next moment. In the impossibility of their relationship there is a profound despair of a man without a future. He senses a rupture, but it's not the traditional one of the conflict of generations. It's really a rupture of language. He cannot communicate, even with love, with the body. From that comes his crisis of despair. Toward his end, he takes refuge in an abandoned cinema called the Pantheon. There, mocked by the sterile white screen above him, he tries - and fails - to bring himself to life in an attempt to connect sexually with the young hitchhiker but there can be no connection between these people from different worlds, either physical or emotional. For Spyros the past is everything, for her it is nothing. In Angelopoulos' words, «It's the conflict between memory and non-memory.» In the long run she only reminds him of his loneliness and isolation. Unable to come to come to terms with the present, betrayed by the past, wary of the future, Spyros falls back into silence and isolation and returns to his hives, abandoning himself to the stings of his bees.
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The Voyage (El viaje) (1992)
Fernando Solanas
Argentina
133′
A young man living in a cold southern village in South America, decides to start a trip looking for his father. By doing this he discovers unexpected facts about his Latin American essence.
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Malaria
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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Avé
Konstantin Bojanov
Bulgaria
86′
While hitchhiking from Sofia to Ruse, Kamen meets Avé, a 17-year-old runaway girl. With each ride they hitch, Avé invents new identities for them, and her compulsive lies get Kamen deeper and deeper into trouble. Reluctantly drawn into this adventure, Kamen begins to fall in love with the fleeting Avé.
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Nostalghia (1983)
Andrei Tarkowski
Italy
126′
Andrei Gortchakov, a Russian writer, travels through Italy in the footsteps of a fellow composer to write his biography. With great sensitivity for the emotions of those who are far from their country, Andrei Tarkovski, supported by his Italian co-writer Tonino Guerra, draws a meeting of cultures and periods.
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Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey
157′
Life in a small town is akin to journeying in the middle of the steppes: the sense that "something new and different" will spring up behind every hill, but always unerringly similar, tapering, vanishing or lingering monotonous roads...
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with bonus
Salt of this Sea (2008)
Annemarie Jacir
Palestine
105′
Soraya, 28, born and raised in Brooklyn, decides to return to live in Palestine, a country that her family was exiled from in 1948. On arriving in Ramallah, Soraya tries to recover the money left in an account by her grandparents but meets with refusal from the bank. Her path then crosses that of Emad, a young Palestinian whose ambition, unlike hers, is to leave the country for good. To escape the constraints linked to the situation in Palestine but also to earn their freedom, Soraya and Emad take things into their own hands, even if this means breaking the law. In this quest for life, we follow their trail through the History of a lost Palestine. Annemarie Jacir is telling not only or simply the story of a woman that comes to visit a region where her grandparents lived («here!»), no, the palestinian filmmaker is taking us as viewers deep into that, what facts and figures could never describe. It is this strong atmosphere, she has been creating, that touches us, it's the images of a well known situation, but again, not only the images in the photografic sense, she reaches in the way she's telling this little journey a level of inside view, that has in it's silent, feverish and constantly instabile way breathtaking and heartstopping moments. SALT OF THIS SEA is one of those movies, that give us an inner view of a situation that we all know somehow and where we run out of words to discribe. And this seems to me today much more important then to repeat what we know. Annemarie Jacirs movie is touching, because it goes under the surface even by simply showing surfaces, it goes under the surface by having a wonderful actress who is able to speak not only in words. And it goes there because she did put together so many little visible and invisible elements, without pointing them out: They are simply there, from the first moment, and they speak for themselves each of them and all together. The filmmaker created a kind of soft explosive that is not blessing but touching.
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Gabriel and the Mountain
Fellipe Barbosa
Tanzania
131′
Before entering a prestigious American university, Gabriel Buchmann decided to travel the world for one year, his backpack full of dreams. After ten months on the road, he arrived in Kenya determined to discover the African continent. Until he reached the top of Mount Mulanje, Malawi, his last destination.
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Messidor (1979)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
123′
Project initially entrusted to Maurice Pialat, who had already begun to film it under the title of “Meurtrières” (see the special edition of Les Inrockuptibles devoted to Pialat), Messidor is based on a crime story which hit the headlines in France in the 1970s: two adolescent girls run away and go on a criminal spree which ends in their deaths. On the face of it, this subject is remote from the world we associate with Tanner, since a violent story of this kind and its social background would seem to impose the realistic, even naturalistic form always shunned by the Swiss director. Moreover, Tanner is instinctively averse to filming physical violence. “Killing a person”, he says, “is generally a gratuitous special effect.” Consequently, of all Tanner’s films Messidor is the only one in which someone dies of non-natural causes. It is also Tanner’s most sombre work, characterised by a despair unmitigated by his usual verbal and situational humour. This is because Tanner accepted the project only on condition that he could recast the original idea and use this violent story as a vehicle for more personal preoccupations: the limits of freedom (already treated in his previous film) are here related to the girls’ frantic flight in the Swiss countryside. What interests him is the possible sullying of this place of excessive peace and quiet, now transformed into a field of experience and criminal fun-and-games by the two characters.
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