There are so many words to describe the 34th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF): passionate, off-the-wall, irreverent, uncompromising, probing, pioneering and unabashedly popular are just a few. This year’s edition also delivers on entertainment value thanks to a host of Swiss, international and world premieres, the launch of a brand-new section – FIFFamily, and opening and closing films that are sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. This year, two comedies – Heroic Losers from Argentina and Mossad! from Israel – will open and close the Festival. As well as the previously announced New Territory (Rwanda) and Genre Cinema (Alternate worlds) sections, the Festival will launch a new stand-alone section, FIFFamily, while the Decryption section will take a deep dive into Mexican cinema, screening some of its finest productions as chosen by thirty or so Mexican directors, including Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro; History of Mexican Cinema by its Creators delivers a highly concentrated dose of humour, irreverence and absurdity, making FIFF 2020 (20th – 28th March) the most offbeat edition to date. The names of the two cinema greats to be honoured in the Homage to… and Sur la carte de… sections will be announced in mid-February. In the meantime, FIFF can reveal a very special surprise that it has lined up at the end of the Festival. On Sunday 29th March, Fri-Son will host a screening of the gloriously absurd masterpiece A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence by Swedish director Roy Andersson, accompanied by a live performance from brilliant singer songwriter Emilie Zoé.
Laughs from start to finish
The 34th edition of FIFF will open on Friday 20th March with the Swiss premiere of Heroic Losers (trailer), a social comedy by Argentinian director Sebastián Borensztein. Featuring some of the finest Spanish-speaking actors around and led by Latin American film star Ricardo Darín, the film tells the story of a group of residents from a small town outside Buenos Aires who, on the eve of the 2001 financial crisis, make the disastrous decision to deposit the money they had saved to buy a cooperative. When they discover afterwards that the bank will not let them withdraw more than a few pesos every week, this band of anti-heroes decides there is only one option open to them: pull off the heist of the century.
Following the official awards ceremony on Saturday 28th March, FIFF will screen its closing film: an Israeli blockbuster comedy whose name leaves no doubt about the subject matter. Mossad! (trailer) by Alon Gur Arye is a James Bond parody packed with quick-fire gags. David Zucker, the comic genius who gave us Airplane! and a number of films in the spoof horror franchise Scary Movie, was the creative consultant on this outrageous farce that manages to transcend the tensions in the Middle East thanks to its supersize serving of goofball humour. It is the perfect antidote to the release of the latest James Bond film the following week, in which Daniel Craig’s 007 is likely to have fewer tricks up his sleeve than the cast of Mossad!.
Finally, something for all the family
In the past, FIFFamily was the name given to a handful of selected films shown during the Festival. But the public wanted to see more; FIFF heeded their call. FIFFamily is now a stand-alone section geared to audiences of all ages, and the programme this year promises to be a real treat for movie-loving families. On the menu are a series of short films for the very young (4+), an Indonesian superhero, a celebration of young football-mad Africans, and a sublime animated adventure from China which is as beautiful to look at as anything produced by the top American animation studios.
White Snake, Amp Wong & Ji Zhao, Section FIFFamily, 2019
An insider view of Mexican cinema
This year, Switzerland and Mexico celebrate 75 years of bilateral relations. To mark this milestone, FIFF asked the biggest names working in Mexican cinema today to pick their top three Mexican films. After all, is there anyone better placed to judge the film output of a particular country than filmmakers from that country? Thirty or so directors kindly accepted, among them, Guillermo del Toro, Amat Escalante, Carlos Reygadas, Giovanna Zacharias and Arturo Ripstein. Their choices reveal the incredible diversity of Mexican cinema, while the rebellious, irreverent vein that runs through many of the films provides an illuminating insight into contemporary Mexican society. Of the 65 films chosen by the 42 directors, the 11 which received the most votes will be shown as part of Decryption: History of Mexican Cinema by its Creators. The final selection will be unveiled on 4th March and promises plenty of surprises and a fresh look at Mexican cinema.
With 12 features and 16 shorts entered in the International Competitions, FIFF remains true to its burning desire to discover and showcase the work of talented film makers from Africa, Latin America and Asia. Many of these films will have their Swiss and in some cases their first international if not world premiere at FIFF and the screenings will be attended by the directors themselves. For the first time in FIFF’s history, films from Angola and Sudan will also be in competition. The section New Territory: Rwanda comprises some 20 films, virtually the entire cinematic output of the country’s fledgling film industry. The section Genre Cinema: Topsy-turvy worlds will provide a lesson in alternate history while the ever popular Midnight Screenings will let night owls fly to Argentina for an unbearably claustrophobic car ride; to South Korea for a close encounter with zombies; and to a Turkish dystopia that is as chilling as The Shining.
A duet of folk rock and black absurdist comedy
To round off the 34th edition in fitting style, FIFF has joined forces with Fri-Son to offer festival-goers a unique evening of film and music. With an original score, Swiss musicians Emilie Zoé and Christian G. Gaucher pay tribute to one of their favourite films, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Golden Lion winner in 2014 and screened at FIFF in 2015) by Swedish director Roy Andersson. The artits’ mellow, engaging and haunting harmonies are the perfect accompaniment to this dark, gloriously absurd ode to the fragility of human existence. It will keep a smile on the audience’s faces long after the Festival is over.
Sunday, 29th March at 7 pm
In mid-February, FIFF will announce the name of two major figures who will be honoured in the sections Homage to… and Sur la Carte de…
The box office will open on 4th March, immediately after the official announcement of FIFF 2020 programme.
Save the date
• 4th March 2020, 10.15 am: press conference, incl. presentation of the full programme (Safe Gallery BCF, Fribourg)
• 12th March 2020, 8 pm: preview at the Kino REX, Bern
• 20th – 28th March 2020: 34th edition of FIFF, the Fribourg International Film Festival
Media accreditation is now open: fiff.ch/accreditations-fiff-2020