The Rules and selection criteria were drafted back in November 2009, with the first film viewed back in Dec 2009 and the final film seen only days before the soccer World Cup kicked off on June 11, 2010. From the 32 film list there were many entries that looked as potential finalists:
England: Of Time and the City (2008, Terence Davies)
Japan: The Human Condition, part I (1959, Masaki Kobayashi)
Portugal: Colossal Youth (2006, Pedro Costa)
Paraguay: Paraguayan Hammock (2006, Paz Encina)
France: Sans soleil (1983, Chris Marker)
Brazil: Almost Brothers (2004, Lúcia Murat)
Spain: The Spirit of the Beehive (1973, Victor Erice)
Germany: Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922, Fritz Lang)
Italy: Il Divo (2008, Paolo Sorrentino)
Argentina: Liverpool (2008, Lisandro Alonso)
South Korea: Like you Know it All (2009, Hong sang-soo)
USA: Ballast (2008, Lance Hammer)
Chile: Historias de fútbol (1997 Andrés Wood)
Of these, the English, Italian and Brazilian titles were hugely disappointing. Only the Argentine feature exceeded expectations and very early on it was evident that it was a potential winner. The following were a few pleasurable discoveries:
Mexico: In the Pit (2006, Juan Carlos Rulfo)
Honduras: El Porvenir (2008, Oscar Estrada)
Serbia: The Life and Death of a Porno Gang (2009, Mladen Djordjevic)
I wish I had spent more time digging up a Dutch title but I took a gamble with the 2009 feature Amsterdam (Ivo van Hove) and unfortunately, it didn't pay off.
Below is a more complete recap.
Following are the films listed in the order they finished in the group, with total points out of 9.
Group A -- Mexico (In the Pit, 8), Uruguay (Gigante, 8), France (Sans Soleil, 7), South Africa (U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha, 6)
Group B -- Argentina (Liverpool, 9), Greece (The Lost Monument, 8), South Korea (Like You Know it All, 8), Nigeria (Without Shame, 4)
Group C -- USA (Ballast, 9), Algeria (Daugther of Keltoum, 7), Slovenia (How I Killed a Saint, 6), England (Of Time and the City, 5)
Group D -- Serbia (The Life and Death of a Porno Gang, 9), Germany (Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, 8), Australia (Celia, 6), Ghana (The Perfect Picture, 5)
Group E -- Japan (The Human Condition, part I, 9), Denmark (Flame and Citron, 8), Cameroon (A Trip to the Country, 7), Holland (Amsterdam, 5)
Group F -- Paraguay (Paraguayan Hammock, 8), Italy (Il Divo, 6), Slovakia (Orbis Pictus, 6), New Zealand (Black Sheep, 4)
Group G -- Portugal (Colossal Youth, 9), North Korea (North Korea: A Day in the Life, 7), Brazil (Almost Brothers, 6), Ivory Coast (Adanggaman, 5)
Group H -- Honduras (El Porvenir, 8), Spain (The Spirit of the Beehive, 7), Chile (Historias de fútbol, 6), Switzerland (A Crude Awakening, 5)
The top 2 films from each group advanced to the second round or the round of 16.
1) Mexico (In the Pit) 3-1 Greece (The Lost Monument)
2) USA (Ballast) 3-2 Germany (Dr. Mabuse The Gambler)
3) Japan (The Human Condition, part I) 3-0 Italy (Il Divo)
4) Portugal (Colossal Youth) 2-1 Spain (The Spirit of the Beehive)
5) Argentina (Liverpool) 3-1 Uruguay (Gigante)
6) Serbia (The Life and Death of a Porno Gang) 3-0 Algeria (Daughter of Keltoum)
7) Paraguay (Paraguayan Hammock) 2-3 Denmark (Flame and Citron)
8) Honduras (El Porvenir) 3-0 North Korea (North Korea: A Day in the Life)
1) Mexico (In the Pit) 3-3 USA (Ballast)
2) Japan (The Human Condition, part I) 2-2 Portugal (Colossal Youth)
3) Argentina (Liverpool) 3-2 Serbia (The Life and Death of a Porno Gang)
4) Denmark (Flame and Citron) 2-2 Honduras (El Porvenir)
The Mexican, Japanese and Honduran films all advanced to the Semi-Finals on the basis of subjective penalty shoot-out wins.
Semi-Finals, 3rd Place & Final
Mexico (In the Pit) 3 - 2 Japan (The Human Condition, part I)
Argentina (Liverpool) 3-2 Honduras (El Porvenir)
Japan (The Human Condition, part I) 2-2 Honduras (El Porvenir)
The Honduran film takes 3rd place on penalties.
Mexico (In the Pit) 2-3 Argentina (Liverpool)
Overall, a very enjoyable festival with plenty of rich cinematic offerings. I especially relished the challenge of tracking down films from all 32 countries and such a task required a good investment of time and money. Some films were obviously a lot harder to find, such as the entries from Honduras, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria but in the end it was worth it as the presence of a full set of 32 films made for a worthy competition.