Speed Streaming: We Are One Film Festival

A recommendation from Curator of Film Dean Otto:

We Are One Festival Launches 10 Days of Free Films

Some of the largest films festivals in the world—from Cannes, Sundance, New York, and the BFI (21 festivals altogether)—will showcase the We Are One festival with over 100 films for free including talks 13 world premiers, 31 online, premieres, five international online premieres, and discussions with some of the world’s leading film directors and actors.  Starting May 29 through June 7, YouTube will host the selections that were organized by Tribeca Enterprises.  The films premiere at different dates throughout the 10 days, so be sure to check the site and work out your schedule in order not to miss any of the rare opportunities. The festival will also be raising money for the World Health Organization and many regional COVID-19 relief organizations.

The selection presents works from over 35 countries with 23 narrative and eight documentary feature films, 57 narrative and 15 documentary short films, 15 filmmaker talks with five VR works.  Honestly, it’s the most ambitious online collaboration between festivals ever.

Some of the highlights include Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka, a tight film about the cultural clashes and racism faced by a Palestinian single mother and her teenage son who immigrate to a small town in Illinois,  It was the winner of the of the Directors’ Fortnight FIPRESCI Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

If you’ve loved the Animation Show of Shows presented annually at the Speed Cinema, many of the films showcased in that program were premiered at the Annecy International Animation Festival.  There are two programs from the festival the are included in the We Are One program, a 52-minute selection including The Battle of San Romano and The Procession, and a 19-minute collection for families including Bird Karma, Bilby and Marooned.

The New York Film Festival has offered two programs of outstanding short films including Mati Diop’s Atlantiques about a young boy’s migration from Senegal (by all means, make sure to follow this up with Diop’s feature length film Atlantics streaming on Netflix that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festvial).  Also be sure to catch Eliza Hittman’s Fovever’s Gonna Start Tonight, an early work that highlight’s Hittman’s careful and honest work about adolescence (be sure to see her current film Never Rarely Sometimes Always which premiered at Sundance and went on to win the Silver Bear Award at the Berlinale).

If you want to find out the inspirations for films and more about the creative lives of artists, be sure to tap into the many filmmaker discussions on offer.  There is actor Tessa Thompson with director Jane Campion from Sundance, director Guillermo del Toro at the Marrakech International Film Festival, Parasite actor Song Kang-ho and director Bong Joon-ho at the Locarno International Film Festival, directors John Waters and Albert Serra also at Locarno, Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) and Hirokazu Kore-eda  (Shoplifters) in conversation at the Berlin International Film Festival, French directors Claire Denis and Olivier Assayas discuss the current state of cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival, director Alejandro Iñárritu and artist Marina Abramovic in discussion at the Tribeca Film Festival, Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Soderbergh in conversation at the Tribeca Film Fesctival, and actor Viggo Mortensen and director David Cronenberg on Crash at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The real gem of this festival is the inclusion of Ulrike Ottinger’s striking Ticket of No Return, one of the most outstanding films to come out of the German New Wave of the 1970s-early 1980s. With a bold color palate and even more outlandish costume design, a beguiling woman purchases a ticket to German with a sole purpose—to drink herself to death.

Ottinger was to be the subject of a retrospective at the Metrograph in New York just as the pandemic took hold.  The director’s travel was interrupted initially and then the cinemas closed throughout the country.

In 1991, Ottinger and an early touring retrospective were featured at the Walker Art Center just as I arrived as an intern. Having just returned from months living in Germany just as the Berlin Wall fell, I was completely floored by the her audacious films and wondered why more people didn’t know of her. I was way too shy and intimated to interact with her then.  I had another opportunity to host her though.

In 2008, I worked with the University of Minnesota to bring her back to Minnesota for a series of her films including a gorgeous 35mm print of Ticket of No Return. By this time, I had overcome my fear and had a wonderful time showing her Minnesota on some of the coldest days of the year. We went out to the Art Shanties, an annual art project where ice fishing houses in an area of Medicine Lake are turned into small galleries and art projects. While initially charmed by the project, Ottinger was more interested in heading off to meet with the real ice fishing enthusiasts on the lake. She invited herself into a couple with bewildered men stopped their fishing and drinking long enough to give her a quick lesson.

That’s one of the joys of film festivals.  It brings together people of many different backgrounds and cultures to share our life experiences.  Sometimes those experiences are on the screen and others may take place in a fishing hut on a suburban Minnesota lake. While we’re not advised to travel during the pandemic, we can have many adventures all over the work through film.