"This is the second in a series of three articles which I am writing for Varsity, find the first in the Film and TV section and catch the third soon!"TWITTER/@SANSEBASTIANFES

I am Sofia and I spent the first portion of my Year Abroad in San Sebastian, Spain, taking advantage of the fact that I happened to be there at the same time as the 69th International Film Festival. This is the second in a series of three articles which I am writing for Varsity, find the first in the Film & TV section and catch the third soon!

Over the course of the festival, I saw five very different films, which I’ve reviewed below. However, it would not be fair for me to publish these reviews without admitting my near entire ignorance of cinematic history and technique outside of the SL7 Soviet film paper in the MMLL tripos.

As is fitting of my lack of expertise, I’ve taken a slightly unorthodox technique when it comes to the reviews below. I’m steering clear of discussing technique and form, for fear of inspiring the wrath of film buffs when I criticise something that is clearly genius, or dismiss something that is obviously a cliché. Instead, I’m writing these for someone like me; who quite likes the cinema, but requires simple, limited information in order to assess whether the film I’m watching is going to be entertaining or dull.

Bigger Than Us

Brief Synopsis: Documentary about youth activism across the globe, covering topics from the refugee crisis in Greece, to women’s rights in Malawi and fracking in Colorado

Emotional Effect

I cried intermittently throughout the entire screening – sad and happy tears included

Intellectual Effect

Left the cinema feeling semi-inspired, semi-disappointed in my own lack of achievement considering my enormous privilege

Entertainment Level

Not heavy, easy watching, fast-paced while ensuring each activist’s cause was explained in sufficient depth

Warning

The main presenter, Melati, is a little bit annoying, but that might just be because she has an American accent

Who would I recommend it to

Every Instagram activist with a superiority complex

Out of six: 5/6

Ping Yuan Shang De Mo Xi / Fire on the Plain

Brief Synopsis: Young troublemaker and cop have uneasy relationship, cop is trying to solve some murders, gets killed – flash forward ten years and young troublemaker is trying to solve the same case. There’s also a love interest, morphine and a weirdly significant cigarette packet.

Emotional Effect

Had my fingers in my ears and my eyes clamped shut due to level of violence

Intellectual Effect

Realised I need to watch more Chinese cinema because my focus has been disgracefully western, really liked use of bleak colour to illustrate misery of characters’ existences (?????)

Entertainment Level

Gripping, at times unbearable for those who struggle to watch a man being simultaneously stabbed with a prosthetic limb and electrocuted by a fridge

Warning

Violence (see previous point)

Who would I recommend it to

Someone who plays hardcore combat/violent video games

Out of six: 4/6

“I’m writing these for someone like me; who quite likes the cinema, but requires simple, limited information in order to assess whether the film I’m watching is going to be entertaining or dull”

Enquete sur una scandale d’etat / Undercover

Brief Synopsis: French drug police boss is secretly allowing a huge amount of trafficking, one of his ex-informants teams up with a very hairy journalist to uncover the scandal

Emotional Effect

Disappointed. Synopsis sounded so promising because I love journalism/scandal films and this was so unbelievably dull

Intellectual Effect
Enquete sur una scandale d’etat / Undercovertwitter/tierrafilme

None, was frequently checking my watch because I was bored

Entertainment Level

I feel I have nothing to add here. Apart from the cast were two rows behind me and that was pretty cool

Warning

May provoke extreme boredom; scenes filmed in the courtroom and club are equally as long and tedious

Who would I recommend it to

Anyone who finds beards attractive

Out of six: 1/6

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Brief Synopsis: True story of the rise and fall of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker with Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain

Emotional Effect

Superb, really connected with protagonist after I got over her annoying voice

Intellectual Effect

Significant, the inner-workings of the church in America is certainly something I want to look into further, slightly terrifying the power they have

Entertainment Level

Sky-high. It’s a beautiful spectacle; bright colours, montage, music, outlandish makeup and costume as well as (what I thought were) fantastic performances by Garfield and Chastain (apologies if this is wrong)

Warning

Intense amounts of mascara and an irritating laugh

Who would I recommend it to

Everyone with an interest in the US and its relation to religion. And my dad, who loves Jessica Chastain

Out of six: 6/6

Michelin II: Nordic by Nature

Brief Synopsis: Documentary about double Michelin starred restaurant ‘KOKS’ on the Faroe Islands, including interviews with the Head Chef and his team, scenes dedicated to their signature dishes, as well as fantastic shots of the Faroese scenery

Emotional Effect

Very wholesome, especially compared to the heavier films that I’d seen earlier in the week

Intellectual Effect

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Mountain View

‘Supernova reminds us how truly extraordinary love can be’

I learnt a lot about Faroese food culture, something which I’m sure I can work into a conversation at some pretentious dinner party

Entertainment Level

It was visually very beautiful; both the shots of the ocean and mountains as well as those featuring the intricate, colourful dishes that KOKS serves. As a documentary, it had a really nice flow – I’m certain that’s not how one is meant to describe it, but there we go

Warning

A sheep gets killed and has its entrails removed – generally not recommended for those who don’t enjoy watching animals and fish suffer

Who would I recommend it to

Any Scandinavians missing their home (me!) and anyone who thinks that pesto pasta is the pinnacle of cuisine and needs to be educated

Out of six: 4/6