CFS Online Films

During the covid pandemic and while we waited for the all-clear in regard to in-cinema screenings, CFS linked up with YourScreen, a spin-off from the Cheltenham International Film Festival, to create a programme of films for members to watch at home which were spread over three separate seasons.

The films shown – First Season

System Crasher / Systemsprenger
Director: Nora Fingscheidt, Germany, 2019.
Our first CFS Online film, System Crasher, received an excellent reception, with an appreciation score of 93.4 per cent. Some comments:

  • Good and not an easy view…a real CFS film….
  • I’ve just withdrawn my fostering application!! Wow! What a young actress! Powerful and heart wrenching.
  • The young actress playing the main part was excellent.
  • Tough to watch but one of the best films I have seen in a long time.
  • A fantastically realistic and emotional film with an amazing performance by the young lead actor.  Very moving.
  • Stunning acting! An uncomfortable film to watch – but essential viewing.
  • Brilliant acting from the young girl lead but heartbreaking that she so wanted to love and be loved. I did worry that acting that part would affect her.
  • Terrific performance from the girl. Very powerful film with a slightly unsatisfactory ending.
  • Excellent if it was true to life. A bit long otherwise. Frustrating viewing.

The Best of Dorien B
Director: Anke Blondé, Belgium, 2019.
The Best of Dorien B, one of the CFS Online films we showed before Christmas, was quite well liked, with an appreciation score of 75 per cent. Some of your comments:

  • A balanced presentation of some very sensitive issues, with the humour helping to provide some lighter moments without diluting the key messages.
  • Like real life. Really excellent film. Kept me interested all the way through.
  • Well-observed, well-acted, poignant and funny.
  • Really enjoyed it, thank you, found the lead very sympathetic and the film a combination of amusing, quirky and moving.
  • A thoughtful, perceptive and unsentimental drama leavened with dark humour.
  • Lovely humour, interesting well delivered cameos. Breast scan made me wince!
  • Really enjoyed this film, thought the lead actress was particularly good. Thought provoking with a touch of humour.
  • I was expecting more of this film but found it rather dull on the whole and wasn’t really interested in the characters – Dorien was played rather too deadpan. I think the Belgians’ view of bizarre is probably different from mine!
  • A bit slow. Not a lot happened. But pleasant.
  • I found myself annoyed with everyone in this film especially Dorien so not an enjoyable watch.
  • Billed as a “comedy-drama” – I didn’t get the joke!
  • The lead actress was excellent, but overall the film didn’t really do it for me. Too unremittingly bleak for most of the running time; the rare comedic moments didn’t make up for the generally pervasive sourness of mood.

Beyond the Horizon / Le milieu de l’horizon
Director: Delphine Lehericey, Switzerland / Belgium, 2018.
Beyond the Horizon, one of the CFS Online films we showed before Christmas, received an appreciation score of 74.2 per cent. Some of your comments:

  • A beautifully shot film, perfectly evoking the heat of ’76 with credible but flawed characters throughout, not least the burgeoning maturity of the boy at the core of the film.
  • A gripping film but with an ultimately upbeat ending!
  • I needed 2 viewings to really appreciate what I first thought was too slow a burn.
  • Bleak. Rather abrupt ending to the narrative. Visually compelling and excellent young actors.
  • A beautiful looking and well acted coming of age drama. Very good performances from all of the ‘kids’ involved.
  • Quite depressing but beautifully shot and really evocative of the heat of ’76.
  • It was ok but a bit unbelievable, I didn’t really engage with any of the characters.
  • Bit slow – rather too many dead chickens. But an interesting take on the rite of passage theme.
  • Good photography , slightly disjointed and unpleasant story.
  • Very long, slow start, then all rushed at the end.
  • I have mixed feelings. It seemed rather theatrical, almost possible to divide into acts & scenes. But also compressed; the emotional events happened too rapidly.

Director: Myriam Verreault, Canada, 2019.
A good response to Kuessipan, our second CFS Online film, which received an appreciation score of 77.9 per cent. Some comments:

  • Really interesting and I really liked the poetic nature.
  • A beautifully crafted, heartfelt film.
  • Brilliant film. Thank you for showing.
  • Completely enjoyable.
  • Interesting to find out about a society which is largely unknown.
  • Very enjoyable. Great story which successfully wove together several themes such as friendship, isolation and cultural identity with a happy ending!
  • A film with great depth and insight into a world unknown to most of us. Beautifully portrayed.
  • Great photography and interesting viewpoint from within another culture. Gently challenging commentary on race relations.
  • Too long to maintain story line.
  • Interesting dynamic of cultures. I had difficulty following the time line. Thought provoking as usual.
  • Gave up after watching about 15mins of film.
  • Interesting cultural insights but a bit too slow to warrant more than a C plus.
  • Grim and so slow.
  • Interesting location but not enough to keep attention – abandoned.

The films shown – Second Season

Director: Bartosz Kruhlik, Poland 2020.
Mixed reactions to Supernova which achieved an overall appreciation score of 69.9%. Some members were not entirely convinced by the ending.

Supernova, first of the CFS Online films we showed after Christmas, received an appreciation score of 69.9 per cent. Some of your comments:

  • Very touching and finely acted. Beautiful scenery. The gentle pace contributed to the various dilemmas faced by the characters.
  • Tense, harrowing, original.
  • The more that you reflect on this film the better it seems – an excellent allegorical story.
  • Tension building up until the end, but then resolved with an anti-climax.
  • I thought this film was excellent in expressing the emotions of so many people in one location. I felt I was present and was very affected by what unfolded. The acting and filming were very good.
  • So realistic. Harrowing to watch.
  • Dark subject matter but not a lost shot – worth watching.
  • Great film up until 10 minutes from the end which was disappointing and unsatisfying.
  • Very involving catastrophic tale with a weak ending, so much blundering with a relentless decent into chaos and recrimination, bleak indeed! It held a horrible fascination.
  • Possibly a little thin on character but excellent choreography of a complex crowd scene.
  • It was gripping, thought provoking and quite dark.
  • An interesting way of filming a story , but not entirely convincing.
  • Very disturbing, but worth watching. Quite scary to see how things can escalate so quickly and so dramatically, when people are angry, scared, traumatised.
  • Reasonable plot, low budget feel.
  • Lacked credibility.
  • A rather depressing film and the ending was bizarre.
  • Another weak plot, another not very good choice of an Eastern Europe recent cinema production. Unconvincing dialogue with poor performance.

Director: Stephan Komandarev, Bulgaria 2019.
An appreciation score of 73.8% for this Bulgarian film; an interesting snapshot of a democracy finding its feet. The interconnected stories appreciated by some members while others found it too disjointed. Some of your comments:

  • Lots of authentically black police humour.
  • Very well constructed and acted. The comic interludes made the tragic storylines even more powerful.
  • Unusual! Amusing but moving. Corruption mitigated by compassion.
  • An interesting comment on Bulgarian society – and a partially corrupt police force but not all black and white – lots of positive humanity here too – also loved the clever interconnected stories in the evening’s police rounds.
  • Despite similar themes to Supernova, I enjoyed this film so much more: the sparing but judicious use of humour and more well-rounded characters made the film easier to watch whilst still retaining its power, providing an insight into the east/west complexities of the Bulgarian national psyche.
  • It was funny in places and at other times distressing.
  • Gritty, heartfelt, humorous, Bulgarian – what more could you want!
  • The interplay of the different scenarios worked well and certainly demonstrated the challenges for the police. Plus the corruption and contempt for life that was shown. Gritty!
  • Surprisingly good, an eye opener.
  • Challenging and thought-provoking, not an easy watch.
  • A little more humour would have been good but otherwise excellent film.
  • A mix of black humour and some very dark, serious stuff.
  • Good film after a slow start.
  • I enjoyed it but it was not profound or memorable.
  • Very unsettling.
  • Unsatisfactory acting (except for the elderly teacher) and weak plot, some funny moments with police practices.
  • An interesting idea that just didn’t work for me, despite the occasional humorous moments – too disjointed.
  • Dull, disjointed and never arrived anywhere!

God of the Piano
Director: Itay Tal, Israel 2019.
The lowest appreciation score of our CFS Online season so far for God of the Piano at 60.4%. A mixed bag of comments ranging from ‘gripping’ and ‘absorbing’ to ‘implausible’ and ‘slightly ridiculous’. The music was enjoyed with many favourable comments. Some of your comments:

  • Wonderful film, captivating from beginning to end, thought provoking with beautiful music throughout.
  • Shocking, thought provoking, challenging. Music was great.
  • This was never boring with lovely music. However, I really cannot believe a mother would swap her baby. Even if she did, I think she would have so much guilt that she would forever be trying to find out what had happened to her birth child – not just many years after the birth.
  • Slightly unrealistic, but frightening parental pressure. Light dawned at the end.
  • Enjoyable, especially after Supernova, but no masterpiece unlike the music!
  • Held the attention, and a good portrait of a competitive mother, although it stretched the bounds of credibility that no-one spotted that she’d taken the wrong baby!
  • Disturbing portrayal of misogyny and a woman attempt to get her father’s approval.
  • Well acted & filmed though slightly claustrophobic.
  • Understated, subtle, absorbing.
  • It was a gripping story line and the actors were all very convincing.
  • Interesting idea – but left hanging at the end.
  • A rather flat note! Loses its purpose in a rather weak plot line with no redeeming characters.
  • A bit slow to develop. Music a bit naff.
  • Rather frustrating as did not find the storyline believable.
  • Lots of questions raised in the film – but very few answers delivered. Unsatisfying.
  • Very obscure to understand the meaning of the storyline I had to read reviews to be able to decode its enigmatic ending.
  • Interesting idea, but storyline very disjointed.
  • I struggled right from the outset with the implausible idea of the baby swap going completely undetected, and found the storyline rather disjointed overall. The music was the high spot for me.
  • Long winded, stilted photography that went nowhere.
  • Engaging enough, but very predictable ending and a film that really didn’t go anywhere. And the erotic episodes served no discernible purpose from what I could see!
  • Slightly ridiculous story line, main character you could not identify with at any level, not much to commend it.

And the Birds Rained Down
Director: Louise Archambault, Canada 2019.
A very warm response to a warm-hearted film. And the Birds Rained Down scored 83.3% with members appreciating its tenderness and gentle story. Some of the comments:

  • We loved it! So tenderly done.
  • Powerful messages. First time seeing elderly love scene.. Really sweet.
  • Moving and deep. A meditation on aging and a reflection on how to spend our later years. The most enjoyable film of the season so far.
  • The box of tissues was not big enough for this beautiful, warm and heartfelt film.
  • A very unusual film. An interesting involving story that was beautifully and sensitively told. A triumph for the older body!
  • A delightful gentle film with excellent acting and cinematography.
  • Beautiful and tender.
  • Beautiful film, very moving.
  • Tender and cinematography amazing.
  • Right age of characters for the Film Soc membership!!
  • Poignant. Powerful. Spiritual. Touching.
  • Perhaps a little too long but otherwise a terrific watch.
  • Very sensitive portrayal of ageing. Non-judgmental. A fraction too long.
  • Loved the slow pace, and the unfolding story, the end’s a little too neat.
  • Very different and very touching performances.
  • Idyllic, lyrical and beautifully shot. Continuity sometimes mystifying.
  • Gentle, warm-hearted story. Lovely setting.
  • Enjoyable and unusual film, very touching and thought provoking.
  • I found continuity and family relationships tricky to follow. Enjoyed the gentle story.
  • I thought it was a strange subject to make a film about, who would think of a situation like that? I liked the fact that they all helped woman without being judgemental.
  • Spectacular scenery but ponderous plot.
  • A strange film with not a lot of content. Very slow and too long.
  • Basically, the best of the worst of this batch of awful films!
  • Too long and utterly dreary.

The films shown – Third Season

The Humorist
Director: Michael Idov, Russia/Latvia/Czechia 2019.
Click here to watch YourScreen’s Chris Baker in conversation with The Humorist director Michael Idov.
This film rather split the audience, but the positives outweighed the negatives with an overall score of 62.8%. Some of the comments received:

  • A thoughtful and provocative, although satirical look of Russia.
  • Great characterisation and writing.
  • Excellent choice. Fascinating and unusual narrative on the Soviet era.
  • Excellent – dark but a compelling look at a very recent bit of history we shouldn’t forget.
  • Interesting portrayal of a privileged person in the former Soviet Union.
  • Slow to get going, but very clever film technique to recall soviet-era films.
  • Interesting the difference in the sense of humour between countries. I think we would be horrified to see a comedian reading from a script. I felt sorry for him because he was on a treadmill which he couldn’t get off. His acting was excellent.
  • An interesting insight into the political and cultural circles of Soviet life.
  • Nothing particularly special and overall viewing experience spoiled by some subtitles being difficult to read.
  • A film dealing with a difficult issue but it wasn’t clear whether or not the “hero” was successful in bucking the system or had sold out.
  • Not one of your better choices. Had to force myself to finish watching it and wish I had just given up on it. Just didn’t find it particularly amusing or interesting and didn’t care enough about the characters.
  • Extremely depressing & not much humour!
  • I found this was an awful film which I struggled to watch until the end. It gave no real insight into any aspect of Soviet life.
  • Incomprehensible.

Director: Tristan Aurouet, Thomas Bidegain, Marc Fitoussi, Cyril Gelblat,
Vianney Lebasque, France 2019.
And to accompany the film, YourScreen have an exclusive Zoom interview with actress Fanny Sidney.
The least popular film of the 3rd online mini-season, with an overall score of just 59.9%. Some of the comments received:

  • I laughed till it hurt.
  • I thought this was a very clever film, the way everyone was connected. It just confirms my suspicions about being addicted to the internet. Thank goodness my generation just use it in a sensible way. It was quite sad to see how it dominated people’s lives.
  • Thought provoking.
  • Good fun in parts, quite dark in others – enjoyed it very much.
  • An entertaining but slightly scary look at the pitfalls of social media, with some good photography.
  • Enjoyable French comedy with perceptive comment on the power of social media. Descended into farce a bit at the end but that often happens in French comedies!
  • Some funny moments but overall slightly laboured.
  • This film should be mandatory viewing for all of the mobile phone/Facebook/reality TV generations.
  • It got a little tedious with all the pop ups on screen.
  • A pointless exercise.
  • Badly acted, unrealistic, very weak humour, all in all a very annoying film!
  • Interesting idea but it got very tedious.

Veins of the World
Director: Byambasuren Davaa, Mongolia/Germany 2020.
The most successful film of the third mini-season, with an overall score of 84.7%. Some of the comments received:

  • Stunning image of a very different part of the world.
  • Superb film – beautifully shot and very understated. Enjoyed the child’s eye view and what a wonderful performance from the child actor playing Amra.
  • Lovely film easily the best of the online films. I had no idea about the mining in Mongolia so the film was educational as well as entertaining and beautiful to watch.
  • One of the best I have seen , so powerful ,full of humanity.
  • An unusual but compelling film. The mix of modern and traditional life, the mining impinging on the herding and the characters made for a very memorable film.
  • Brilliant. Poignant, without being over sentimental.
  • Beautiful wide-angle photography with a simple but telling storyline.
  • Beautifully filmed and made you so aware of the desecration of a community and its land and way if life by greedy, unfeeling profiteers. So sad.
  • Excellent film (best of the online season) – just a shame not to be able to see it on the big screen given the amazing scenery.
  • A moving story highlighting yet another environmental pillaging of the earth. When will we ever learn?
  • As ever, the Mongolian landscape is a wonderful backdrop to films and this sad but inspiring family story.
  • Beautiful landscapes, even on a small screen. A familiar theme of the lives of indigenous tribes being destroyed by commercial companies, but enhanced by a compelling central performance by the boy.
  • An interesting perspective on issues from another culture.

Director: Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi, France/Morocco/Qatar/Belgium 2018.
This film from Morocco was well appreciated, with no rating below C and an overall score of 77.6%. Some of the comments received:

  • A really excellent film showing how society reacts in different cultures. Very well done.
  • Thought-provoking and although not much plot there was so much said through nuance and facial expression rather than words.
  • Excellent and moving film which challenges previous too easily held preconceptions around victim-hood. Men aren’t always as exploitative as usually portrayed!
  • Engrossing, great acting, great insight into Moroccan culture, beautiful cinematography.
  • An intimate, sensitive portrayal of the life of a girl living in Morocco, nicely paced and not overly sentimental, with real, flawed, characters.
  • A different take from the usual angle taken on this general theme in the Islamic world. Very interesting and well-paced.
  • Very good insights to another culture – interesting story with some pretty awful characters well played.
  • Grim but telling.
  • Best of the online films.
  • A difficult and uncomfortable subject made worse by unpleasant characters.
  • Interesting reflection on human behaviour but rather an abrupt ending. Very much ‘full frontal’ photography of people and groups.
  • Interesting dilemma but lacked emotional tension. Could have been so much more.