The adolescent protagonists in the International Youth Film Competition are again facing decisions with the potential to radically impact their futures. With beautiful images, BALABAN illustrates the fragile love between two Kazakh girls, both HIV-positive. Set in Bucharest under the Ceaușescu regime, METRONOM depicts the cruel cat-and-mouse games security forces play with free spirits. In the Italian production A GIRL RETURNED, a 13-year-old must process leaving her wealthy adoptive parents and returning to her poor family of origin. Torn between his paternal obligations and the temptations of an “amour fou”, the 17-year-old protagonist of Swiss-made SOUL OF A BEAST also experiences an emotional maelstrom. In the Icelandic production BEAUTIFUL BEINGS, the solidarity between a group of young outsiders provides equally dramatic fuel for conflict. Finally, Germany’s PERFORMER shows the impact that skewed images of masculinity and emotional coldness can have on impressionable adolescents.

Shorts as openers