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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Charles mort ou vif (1969)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
91′
The film paints the portrait of an old man who decides to abandon his comfortable bourgeois way of life and live with a Bohemian couple. There he rediscovers his freedom to think and his joie de vivre.
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Adam (2019)
Maryam Touzani
Morocco
101′
Abla runs a modest local bakery from her home in Casablanca where she lives alone with her 8 year old daughter Warda. Their routine of housework and homework is interrupted one day by a knock on the door. It is Samia, a young woman looking for a job and a roof over her head. The little girl is immediately taken with the newcomer but her mother initially refuses to allow a pregnant stranger into their lives.
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Atlantic (2019)
Mati Diop
Senegal
105′
Along the Atlantic coast, a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleiman, a young construction worker. But she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleiman and his co-workers leave the country by sea, in hope of a better future. Several days later, a fire ruins Ada’s wedding and a mysterious fever starts to spread. Little does Ada know that Souleiman has returned.
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Canción sin nombre (2019)
Melina León
Peru
97′
Peru, at the height of the political crisis of the 1980’s. Georgina is a young woman from the Andes whose newborn daughter is stolen at a fake health clinic. Her desperate search for the child leads her to the headquarters of a major newspaper, where she meets Pedro Campos, a lonely journalist who takes on the investigation. Based on a true story.
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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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Euphoria (2006)
Ivan Vyrypaev
Russia
71′
In an amazingly beautiful place, on the bank of the wide Don, in a remote, half-destroyed village, surrounded by only steppe for hundreds of miles, a real drama takes place. An unexpected passionate love between a young man and a married woman literally destroys the lives of not only the main characters, but also their close ones.
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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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La tierra y la sombra (2015)
Acevedo César Augusto
Colombia
98′
Alfonso is an old farmer who has returned home to tend to his son, who is gravely ill. He rediscovers his old house, where the woman who was once his wife still lives, with his daughter-in-law and grandson. The landscape that awaits him resembles a wasteland. Vast sugar cane plantations surround the house, producing perpetual clouds of ash. 17 years after abandoning them, Alfonso tries to fit back in and save his family.
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Lunana - A Yak in the Classroom (2020)
Pawo Choyning Dorji
Bhutan
109′
Struggling with his profession as a teacher, Ugyen is sent to Lunana in northern Bhutan for his final year of training. With a warm welcome, the local children try to win him over but they do not have much time...
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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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Rafiki (2018)
Wanuri Kahiu
Kenya
82′
"Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives," but Kena and Ziki long for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.
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with bonus
Salt of this Sea (2008)
Annemarie Jacir
Palestine
105′
Bonus: Interview with Annemarie Jacir
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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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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You Will Die At 20 (2019)
Amjad Abu Alala
Sudan
102′
Sudan, province of Aljazira, nowadays - When Muzamil was born, a prophecy by the holy man of the village predicts that he will die when he is 20 years old. Muzamil’s father cannot stand the doom and travels away from home. Sakina, as a single mother, raises her son with over protection. One day, Muzamil turns 19.
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