This year I had the opportunity to watch four films through the Cleveland International Film Festival. Though the event couldn’t be held in downtown Cleveland, as is tradition, the streaming option was a welcome alternative during the pandemic.
Spaceboy – Belgium, Director: Olivier Pairoux, Writers: Eusebio Larrea, Olivier Pairoux
Spaceboy is about Jim, a gifted young boy who moves to a new town with his astrophysicist father, Graham. Jim gets paired up in his new class with a girl named Emma for a science fair. He uses it as an opportunity to put his plans of recreating Kittinger’s ‘Excelsior’ project into action. Jim’s determination is soon fueled by a personal drive to prove to his father that anything is possible. This was such a moving story. I can’t wait for this one to come out in the US.
Games People Play- Finland, Director: Jenni Toivoniemi, Writer: Jenni Toivoniemi
A group of longtime friends meet at one of their parents’ vacation homes on a remote island in Finland to celebrate one of their birthdays.
This was a complex story about relationships. The party seemed to last forever as they disconnected from the world and put their phones down. They played baseball, cooked and ate, and drank a lot. There was singing and dancing, and a lot of intimacy.
It was beautiful and funny story of the intricacies of friendship and self-identity.
Perfectly Normal Family – Denmark Director: Malou Reymann, Writers: Maren Louise Käehne, Malou Reymann,Rune Schjøtt
Emma this she has a perfectly normal family until one day her father, Thomas reveals that he is transgender. As Thomas transforms into Agnete, both Emma and Agnete struggle to accept how their relationship will evolve. The movie does a really good job of shifting the viewers perspective to that of a timid child, naïve to the world, and very uncertain with her own identity.
Goodbye, Soviet Union – Finland Director: Lauri Randla, Writer: Lauri Randla
Is the coming of age story of Johannes, a courageous young boy living on the cusp of western culture during the collapse of the soviet union. His mother leaves the Estonian Soviet Republic to work in Finland, leaving Johannes in the care of his grandparents. It has romance, comedy, and history in it. I really enjoyed this movie and can’t wait for it to get distribution in the US.