War and anti-war films at Zürich Film Festival

ZÜRICH, Switzerland – Madrid-born director Fernando León de Aranoa’s A Perfect Day stars Tim Robbins (1994’s The Shawshank Redemption, HBO’s 2015 series The Brink), Benicio Del Toro (the Puerto Rican actor portrayed guerrilla Ernesto Guevara in 2008’s Che), and Olga Kurylenko (the Ukrainian-born beauty played the Bond girl in the 2008 007 thriller Quantum of Solace) as beleaguered NGO workers entangled behind the lines of a combat zone during the final days of former Yugoslavia’s warfare. Not only does the film show that war is hell, but is also a bureaucratic nightmare, as UN peacekeepers, plus combatants, try to stop the international do-gooders from assisting embattled civilians.

Robbins’ world-weary, affable character, called B, is a jaunty, somewhat spacey NGO veteran who strives to maintain a sense of humor amidst encounters with landmines, hanged civilians of the “wrong” ethnicity and more. It’s cool to see one of America’s top peace activists co-star in an antiwar film. Check out the October issue of The Progressive magazine to read my interview with Robbins.

Krigen: Melancholy Danes embroiled in Afghanistan

Scandinavian writer/director Tobias Lindholm’s Krigen, about the Danish contingent fighting in Afghanistan, shows how war affects not only soldiers on the frontlines, but their families back at the home front, plus civilians caught in the crossfire between NATO troops and the Taliban. Shot with great realism, Krigen is largely about the Danish unit’s commanding officer on the ground, Claus Michael Pedersen, sensitively played by Johan Philip Pilou Asbæk, who also co-starred in Lindholm’s exciting 2012 A Hijacking (aka Kapringen) and as the spin doctor Kasper Juul on the superb 2010-2013 Danish TV series about Denmark’s first female prime minister, Borgen, which Lindholm also wrote for.

At least two other Borgen alums co-star in Krigen, including Dar Salim (Borgen‘s Green Party MP) and Søren Malling (Borgens TV news producer), who portrays attorney Martin Olsen, representing Pedersen, charged with war crimes after a heated firefight in an Afghan village. As Krigen demonstrates, these melancholy Danes would have been better off if their government had pursued Denmark’s historic neutrality policy, instead of becoming embroiled in NATO and its meddling far from Copenhagen.

For more information see: http://zff.com/en/home/.

Photo: “A Perfect Day (2015 film)” by Source (WP:NFCC#4).  |   Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.


Ed Rampell
Ed Rampell

Film historian and critic Ed Rampell was named after CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow because of his TV exposes of Sen. Joe McCarthy. Rampell majored in cinema at New York's Hunter College. After graduating, he lived in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and Micronesia, where he reported on the nuclear-free and independent Pacific movement for "20/20," Reuters, AP, Radio Australia, Newsweek, etc. He went on to co-write "The Finger" column for New Times L.A. and has written for many other publications, including Variety, Mother Jones, The Nation, Islands, L.A. Times, L.A. Daily News, Written By, The Progressive, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and AlterNet.

Rampell appears in the 2005 Australian documentary "Hula Girls, Imagining Paradise." He co-authored two books on Pacific Island politics, as well as two film histories: "Made In Paradise, Hollywood's Films of Hawaii and the South Seas" and "Pearl Harbor in the Movies." Rampell is the author of "Progressive Hollywood, A People's Film History of the United States." He is a co-founder of the James Agee Cinema Circle and one of L.A.'s most prolific film/theatre/opera reviewers.