During the month of October, Filmatique presents films from various parts of the world that explore disparate experiences of youth that are yet united by common feelings—boredom, confusion, loss, and alienation—positing a contemporary Teenage Wasteland.
Swedish filmmaker Jonas Selberg Augustsén's debut feature The Garbage Helicopter chronicles three siblings' journey through Sweden as they return an antique clock to their newly-widowed grandmother, encountering absurd monuments and traces of casual racism along the way. Belgian filmmaker Bas Devos' first film Violet commences with a random act of violence seen through CCTV monitors, suggesting the distance and alienation that will come to define Jesse, the BMX-riding adolescent who bore witness to his best friend's senseless death. Veteran Finnish filmmaker Pirjo Honkasalo documents a young boy's 24-hour odyssey through the streets of Helsinki and to the brink of adulthood in her fifth feature, Concrete Night. Swiss director Niklaus Hibler's second film Amateur Teens explores the perilous intersection between technology and coming-of-age through the lives of three girls growing up in Zurich, while Marc Brummund's Sanctuary traces the journey of a young man sent to be disciplined in 1906s Germany.
Filmatique's Teenage Wasteland Series evokes the textures of adolescence while offering a window into the psyche of the films' respective countries of origin—Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Finland and Switzerland.
The Garbage Helicopter, Jonas Selberg Augustsén / Sweden, 2015
Enesa, Saska and Baki are three twentysomething Swedish siblings whose grandfather has just died. Their grandmother wants them to bring her an antique clock, so they embark on a 1,000+ mile roadtrip through rural Sweden, stopping along the way to view relics that could once claim to be the biggest of something (the world's biggest screw!) before being upstaged by someone else.
Shot in crisp black and white, Jonas Selberg Augustsén's feature film debut explores stasis as just not a physical but a spiritual state, alongside subtle hints of racism that remain deeply embedded in Swedish society. The Garbage Helicopter premiered at BFI London, Rotterdam, Minneapolis and Torino, where it participated in the Torino Film Lab.
Violet, Bas Devos / Belgium, 2014
Jesse and his best friend Jonas are innocently hanging around an empty shopping mall when a stranger walks by, stabbing Jonas. Jesse remains powerless at the scene of the crime, unable to prevent Jonas from dying much less understand why he himself was spared. Powerlessness subsumes Jesse's parents who well aware of their son's grief but unable to do anything to assuage it. The adolescent boy drifts into the night, riding his bike among the half-lit suburban streets and into the topography of loneliness.
Bas Devos' feature film debut is a stylish, atmospheric portrait of a young man grappling with feelings his age has not endowed him with the experience to understand. Violet premiered at Cameraimage, CPH:PIX; Ghent, where it won Best Original Music and Sound Design FEST New Directors/New Films, where it won an Honorable Mention; AFI, where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Cinematography; and Berlin, where it won the Grand Prix for Best Film in Generation 14plus.
Concrete Night, Pirjo Honkasalo / Finland, 2013
Simo and his older brother Ilkka live with their often helpless and unpredictable single mother. It's the day before his brother is due to start his prison sentence, leaving Simo without a role model. Simo and Ilkka spend his last night together wandering the labyrinthine streets of Helsinki, bearing witness to the true nature of the urban jungle, and adulthood. In his brother's absence, Simo will have to learn his true face.
After working in documentary format for many years, renowned Finnish filmmaker Pirjo Honkasalo's fifth feature film examines notions of innocence, fear, and survival amid a looming urban landscape. Concrete Night premiered at Toronto, Göteborg, Rotterdam and Thessaloniki and took home Best Film, Best Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound Design, and Best Art Direction at the Jussi Awards, Finland's equivalent of the Oscars. Concrete Night was selected as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.
Amateur Teens, Niklaus Hibler / Switzerland, 2015
Sabrina, Milena and Lara are average 14-year-old girls growing up in Zurich. Sabrina agrees to go on a date with Salim, a boy from her school who falls in love with her after viewing her Facebook photos. Milena, on the other hand, brushes aside normal teenage dating experience in favor of men she meets online. Meanwhile Lara, the newcomer, falls victim to bullying. Hints of danger lurk behind every corner, culminating in a tragedy in which it is impossible to discern between victim and perpetrator, innocence and guilt.
Amateur Teens is a naturalistic portrait of adolescence that boldly explores the intersection between technology and coming of age— the film's teenage protagonists must navigate not only the vicissitudes of identity and desire, but also their mediation through social networks and platforms that commodify sex. Niklaus Hibler's second feature film premiered at Locarno, Valencia, Tallinn Black Nights and Zurich, where it won the Audience Award for Best Film.
Sanctuary, Marc Brummund / Germany, 2015
The late-sixties in Germany represent a new era of freedom and revolutions of sex, music and culture. Yet following a confrontation with his step-father, the rebellious fourteen-year-old Wolfgang is sent to Freistatt, a foster home for difficult children. Once there, Wolfgang resists the brutal working conditions and wardens' education methods. But for how long can he manage to withstand a system of violence and oppression that seems so at odds with the rest of society?
Marc Brummund's feature film debut holds a lens to the stark realities of the foster system, and its effect on the nascent masculinity of Germany's forgotten boys. Sanctuary premiered at Baden-Baden, Beijing and Göteborg, and won the Golden Lola, Germany's equivalent of the Oscar, for Best Screenplay.