RAINDANCE DAY 5 | Chefur Raus! + Take me to the River + Songs for Alexis

 Chefur Raus!
DIRECTOR(S): GORAN VOJNOVIC WRITER(S) / PRODUCER(S): FRANCI ZAJC, BOSTJAN IKOVIC DOP: RADOVAN COK CAST: BENJAMIN KRNETIC, DINO HAJDEROVIC, IVAN PASALIC
 
 Marko and his friends are proud to be Chefurs and the rest be damned – in this wonderful adaptation from director Goran Vojnovic’s award-winning novel. 
“Southern Scum, Go Home!” – that, my non-Slovenian friends, is the literal translation for the film’s title.
Chefurs Raus!  is a dark comedy-drama that centers on Marko, a 17-year old amateur Basketball player, and his tempestuous group of friends as they come into constant conflict with family aspirations and native slovenian attitudes towards them as the children of immigrants from the southern republics of former Yugoslavia.
With nothing better to do than hang outside the estate where they live, the group find themselves talking about the usual mundane kids their age do – parents, dissociation to the country they live in, sex and girls.
 
Each one of them are experiencing their own personal struggles. Aco is tired of being treated as a second class citizen by police and his fellow ex-Yugoslavian countrymen; With a drug addict absent brother and lousy father, Adi takes his frustrations out on his mother and smokes way too much weed; Dejan isn’t a Chefur by birth, but his mother has had enough of him and his friends, and with an alcoholic  husband she has no choice but to move him and sister out of Fûnzine to the countryside. Marko has sabotaged his future to go pro in basketball. He’s at constant loggerheads with his overbearing father, and he’s sexually frustrated. 
 
Despite a winning a game, Marko’s provocative behaviour lands him in hot water with his coach; so instead, he  joins his friends for a night of celebration. Their passionate yet harmless gallivanting draws police attention and after a strained exchange, the police escort the boys to the middle of nowhere. Their week goes from bad to worse when Marko, following added pressure from his father to go pro, leads to him rebelling in other ways with dire consequences. The issues concerning their personal lives begins to affect their group and their friendship becomes strained.
Chefur’s Raus is an eye-opening film telling a familiar story, from a part of the world that rarely has a platform on film. In that respect it’s a truly exceptional production, featuring a really talented cast (Benjamin Krnetić is brilliant as troubled Marko) . Some of the themes explored: 1st generation immigrant families and the subcultures born out of it; subsequent identity and culture clashes versus teenage frailties – all  are brought together and expressed in a nice package of humour, drama, great music and surreal filming sequences.

 
Take me to the River
DIRECTOR(S):MARTIN SHOREDOP: NATHAN BLACK CAST: TERRENCE HOWARD, MAVIS STAPLES, SNOOP DOGG

A star-studded documentary telling the story of the musical and socio-economic history of Memphis. – Raindance.org

Music, a star-cast and genuinely interesting facts and special moments, about the people, and songs that have cemented Memphis as one of the best cities in the world for nurturing and producing some of the most famous musical talent and revered songs in the world. 
 
It’s after you watch Take me to the River, that it really resonates just how much amazing talent has been born out of Memphis and the cultural significance their music has had on history and still has on music produced today.
 
Using old songs from the master artists who helped produce them: R&B crooners William Bell, Otis Clay, Bobby “blues” Bland, Mavis Staples and the thoroughly charismatic electric guitar pioneer, Charlie “Skip” Pitts, we’re treated to a host of remixes with the help of artists such Snoop Dogg (an exec producer of the film), Al Kapone and young rap prodigy Lil P-NUT, to create a super album.
With a nod to record labels Stax and Hi records, and a brief look at the growing unease over the civil rights movement and the assassination of MLK caused many socio-economic problems that led to Stax’s demise and tainted the city’s reputation, the strongest premise revolves around the endless hits that have helped to inspire generations. Technically the film does it’s best to capture an overwhelming run of talent without being too invasive, but the artists are at ease, breaking down the fourth wall to interact with the audience, reiterating Memphis reputation as a place welcome to all. Charlie “Skip” Pitts and those responsible for bringing the artists back together provide much of the comic relief and upbeat positive vibes, respectively.
Narrated by actor and musician Terrance Howard (who performs a little session of his own) Take me to the River is undoubtedly a moving tribute. Filled with archive footage and pictures of times gone past and an impressive array of gleeful talking heads, relishing in stories of past jamming sessions and commending the genius they helped create,  we’re also given the privilege to see some of the best in the business performing again –  the results are even more  humbling  knowing that for some the film would the last time.

Songs for Alexis
DIRECTOR(S):ELVIRA LIND DOP: STURLA BRANDT GØVLEN CAST: RYAN CASSATA, FRANCINE CASSATA,  ALEXIS ANN
Trans singer / songwriter Ryan Cassata writes songs about city life, love, family and of course, Alexis. – Copenhagen Bombay.

 

Somewhere in an American suburb, 18 year-old musician Ryan Cassata is in love… with a beautiful girl named Alexis Ann. It sounds like a story lifted from the CW network.

Like most 18-year-olds he’s starting to come to terms with adulthood, unlike most 18-year-olds he transitioned from girl to boy merely 4-years ago and 4 months prior to filming, has just recovered from a double mastectomy. Though he’s not interested in any hormonal or drastic physical changes, the extremely close bond between Ryan and his mother conveys a young man with tremendous support. But beyond the safety of those who care, is the harsh reality of continent still harbouring conservative notions. But then there’s Alexis. As an adult, legally Ryan can’t date 16 year-old Alexis in some states, furthermore, Alexis’ parents’ don’t approve.

The young couple find themselves at odds trying to overcome their struggle as well as appease Ryan’s insecurities when it comes to other boys vying for Alexis’ attention. It’s a whirlwind and at times a little trying – fights over the phone, a run in with Alexis’ father, breaking up/making up), it all happens in this documentary. Accompanied by Ryan’s beautiful original love-struck music helps to express much of the emotions throughout the film. Alexis very much a beautiful muse; mesmerising eyes and a quintessential girl-next-door aesthetic. Her young age could be the reason for much of her stoic approach on camera – but there are some truly beautiful moments between the two lovebirds. Sometimes little words are spoken and the camera is just left to hang over them as they gaze into each others eyes, or emphasise angry silences and glares at cancelled phone calls. They’re enviable youth provides some light touches too, Ryan’s playful nature is perfectly matched against Alexis’ more sharp-witted exchange. It’s hard not to fall in love with them.

The point is, yes, being transgender highlights some unavoidable differences that aren’t the norm in relationships for people their age, but at the heart of it, this is another familiar story of boy meets girl, boy and girl break up and get back together again… the world is their oyster. And did i mention that Casatta is perhaps one of the most impressive,  positive, strong-willed and inspiring young people I’ve ever seen? Already he has substantial fan base, both for his music and for sharing his trans journey online, means a career boosting trip to San Francisco Pride march, and a glimpse into the increasingly visible world of transgender men and women.

OFFICIAL FILM SELECTION:

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