Conventional movies forge conventional ideas. José Ramón Otero Roko.

The Festival of the Portuguese city of Setubal "Festroia" featured in this year's official section that there is no other way to judge it as unbalanced,  in which highlighted the Belgian productions. Belgium is the Festival sponsoring country through the official agency to promote the cinema “Wallonie Bruxelles Images” and the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF).  However, those productions were more important above the ones which came from minority cinemas, but in this case it turned out to be an exemplary sample, even representative, of these countries´ cinema.

The Festroia selection committee, headed by Belgian historian Guido Convents, programmed most of low profile works , with no artistic or aesthetic ambitions, which had more sense in the domestic market of their respective countries than  at the International Film Festival.  Due to this, they screened the Belorussian film Viva Belarus! ("Zyvie Belarus", Krzysztof Lukaszewicz, 2012) very controversial due to be branded by critics as a vehicle of international propaganda of a party ultra-liberal and ultraconservative Belorussian candidate who is also the film's director. With a teenager comedy narrative coherence, presenting to the audience a very serious facts, but apparently are partly true and partly false. The film did not hold high cinematic value and hides a questionable ideological motivation and unusual in the field of European author cinema. The Chilean film The Passion of Michelangelo ("The Passion of Michelangelo”, Esteban Larraín, 2013) was a development of certain interest focused on the identification of the Chilean dictatorship with the religious fervor of false apparitions of the Virgin, but are decomposed in equivocal ending that had no purpose other than trying to surprise the audience beyond fostering consistency of the whole. Baby Blues (“Baby Blues”, Katarzyna Roslaniec, 2012) played cards of the outrageous presentation of an archetypal case around which a conservative audience would endorse a conclusion that fit into their own prejudices. It was the case of a teenager unprepared to undertake the care of her child. Any liability of society in her situation is omitted. There is no mention in this film to contraception, sex education, the role of legislation or state. It only presents an emotionally unstable teenager in Poland, overpowered by consumption and image, who takes drugs and has no lasting relationships. A character without depth, topic, chosen intentionally to force the audience to reach a conventional conclusion. But aesthetically was the boldest film in the official section, with a picture of colors and an attractive photography. In parallel we also found the Finnish film 8-ball ("8-pallo", Aku Louhimies, 2013) which recreates a conventional look about a marginal underworld which repeats the theme of drugs and lack of preparation for undertake the education of a child. However, in this film we did find a strong role of the state as a vehicle for a person in that situation finds the conditions that lead out of marginality. A topical thriller, but with a certain rhythm, ideal for local Finnish film samples, that in a context of lower dominance of U.S. film distributors we could even speak of a commercial film for the domestic market.

The film 90 minutes ("90 minutter", Eva Sørhaug, 2012) my favorite for the award, was, unfortunately, the only one that exhibited stylistic features, not particularly original, but with some ambition of deep in its message and composition of a painting of the interior implosion by citizens of northern countries. His characters, restricted to the field of their families and lifestyles, hatch when that order of things are destroyed, either by economic or emotional problems. Then they act with violence towards his inner circle, denying life to those around them. Structured into three separate stories, it is not possible to find elements that unify them beyond their protagonists give an answer marked by isolation to a problem that exceeds them. That and a feminist message of interest in which we can reflect on the nature of property with which some men act on their families, destroying them because they feel that they own them and have no right to survive them. A well-crafted technique film, although with hesitation in the stage development. This film has a lack of clear confession of its objectives to the audience to obtain the ethical and aesthetic whole more rigorous.

Finally the award winning film by our FIPRESCI jury was none other than the Belgian The Broken Circle Breakdown (Felix Van Groeningen, 2012) that as the Belgians also Tango Libre (Frédéric Fonteyne, 2012) and Romance à la Carte (“Brasserie Romantiek”, Joël Vanhoebrouck, 2012) highlighted in the official section by showing film habits with minimum solvency, without being artwork. The Broken Circle Breakdown, a theme similar to the extraordinary Declaration of War (Valérie Donzelli, 2011), but it seems that conceived before, taked risks in the presentation of characters taken to the limit in their relationships, focused to an autonomous way of life from society and living the breakdown of her emotional universe to find that her little daughter was suffering from terminal cancer. A tough story, mitigated by glad music style "bluegrass", which perhaps was not there so much to offer a counterpoint but to become the set more commercial or more digestible by the average audiences, and that solved convincingly the tensions by the argument into a tirade against false conservative moral that prevents stem cell research. Whether the festival seems focused on fixing our attention on Belgian films, specifically in this which also won the official jury, the film was worthy of a prize in a context that did not offer many more alternatives.

José Ramón Otero Roko (FIPRESCI Jury in Setubal 2013)