The rancour of Indonesia’s most recent presidential election convinced director Joko Anwar to make A Copy of My Mind. Two lovers, Sari and Alek (above), must go on the run after their passion for pirated DVDs uncovers evidence of political corruption. Joko had to edit out the steamier scenes to get it past the censors, but the film screened for a month in cinemas – a remarkable achievement for an independent film made on just $30,000 and shot in eight days, often in Joko’s guerrilla style (“Shoot first, ask permission later”). Indonesians appreciate its frank portrayal of Jakarta – and Indonesian politics – in all its grubbiness.
Amid the thousands of movies churned out by Nollywood each year, the main selling point of ATM is its heroine: played by a former air hostess from Winchester in southern England who is fluent in Nigeria’s particular brand of pidgin. Alongside some of the country’s biggest stars, the “Oyinbo Princess” (real name Claire Edun) stars as the victim of an online love scam who scuppers her groom’s plans to use their marriage as a ticket to escape. The critics gave it tepid reviews, but the white princess’s proficiency in cussing, a cornerstone of Nigeria’s high-volume, low-budget film industry, has created a sensation.
Lod is a crime-ridden, working-class town of mixed Jewish, Muslim and Christian population near Israel’s biggest commercial city, Tel Aviv. It forms the backdrop to the powerful personal story of Junction 48. Kareem, played by real-life Arab-Israeli rapper Tamer Nafar, is a young musician trying to make a name for himself on the local hip-hop scene in the face of racism, police violence and the constraints of traditional society. Israeli-American director Udi Aloni’s film won prizes at the Tribeca and Berlin film festivals, and is pulling in Israeli cinemagoers by packaging the country’s stark contrasts and challenges, politics and music together in a stylish and engaging narrative.
Perhaps one in five Palestinians in the Occupied Territories has spent time in prison. Drawn from factual accounts and shot inside a real prison, 3,000 Nights, Jordanian-born Palestinian director Mai Masri’s debut feature film, has been moving audiences to tears. It tells the story of Layal, a schoolteacher who discovers while she is in jail that she is pregnant. Like many Palestinians before her, Layal becomes politically active behind bars. The climax, a hunger strike that forces her to choose between her politics and her child, echoes the recent fasts, some lasting months, staged by detainees to protest indefinite detention.
Under Argentina’s military dictatorship, which lasted from 1976-83, the so-called “death flights” would go out over the Atlantic to drop the broken bodies of kidnapped left-wing dissidents into the waters below. No one knows how many of the 30,000 killed by the junta were “disappeared” in this way. The wound is still raw, and Argentines have flocked to watch Kóblic. Ricardo Darin, famous for his role in the Oscar-winning “The Secret in Their Eyes”, stars as a pilot who deserts and goes into hiding after making such a flight. His unresolved guilt is the backdrop to this drama — as, 40 years on from the crimes, is Argentina’s guilt to its politics today.