Friday, 28 June 2019 10:15

Giffoni Film Festival 2019: the 101 titles in competition at the 49th edition

The courage to overcome borders, the search of one’s own voice, a love that changes your life, the difficulties which form you and challenge to grow up, great history that never stops teaching and being part of the present are the themes of the 101 international productions from all over Europe but also from Japan, South Korea, Iran, Canada and United States in competition at the 49th edition of the Giffoni Film Festival, July 19-27. Over 4100 the works in pre-selection – both short and feature films – which the Giffoni Experience programmers team viewed in the last months. Stories that will push the 6200 Giffoni 2019 jurors to think and discuss, laugh and grow, identify with the protagonists and question themselves. The films will be presented in the seven competition sections of the Festival: Elements +3 (from 3 to 5 years), Elements +6 (from 6 to 9 years), Elements +10 (from 10 to 12 years), Generator +13 (from 13 to 15 years), Generator +16 (from 16 to 17 years), Generator +18 (from 18 on) and Gex Doc-Parental Experience (section dedicated to teachers, parents and filmgoers). The jurors, coming from 50 countries, will be the ones who will choose the winners of the Gryphon Award. Following are the selected titles.

ELEMENTS +3

Three are the feature films out of competition presented to the Festival’s youngest jury. The first one is the animated film COCONUT THE LITTLE DRAGON - INTO THE JUNGLE by Anthony Power (Germany, 2018). The little dragon Coconut is looking forward to go to summer camp with his best friends Oscar and Matilda, but danger is around the corner. When their ship snags a rock and sinks the trio breaks up: Coconut and Oscar search for their best friend within uncertainties and new encounters. The second feature film is LOTTE AND THE LOST DRAGONS by Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits (Latvia/Estonia, 2019). In this third chapter (Generation Kplus 2007 and 2012) Põldma and Ernits send the spirited puppy Lotte in the crazy search of a spitfire dragon, with her sister Roosi: as a result, the film is vibrant and full of colors and coups de théâtre, absurd encounters and a series of bizarre characters. The last film of the section is PETTSON AND FINDUS - FINDUS MOVES HOUSE by Ali Samadi Ahadi (Germany, 2018) distributed by Wild Bunch and based on the beloved books by Sven Nordqvist. Old Petterson is trying to sleep but his cat Findus keeps him awake: both agree that the cat is soon going to have a place of his own. To compete for the Gryphon Award there will be no less than 24 short films: from the Italian BECOLORED (Italy, 2019) by Maurizio Forestieri and THE IMAGINARY FRIENDS SHOP by Lorenzo Busi (Italy, 2019), to A GOOD HEART by Evgeniya Jirkova (Russia, 2018), and A TIGER WITH NO STRIPES by Raul ‘Robin’ Morales Reyes (Francia, 2018), not to forget the three works of by Nicolas Deveaux ATHLETICUS: ARTISTIC GYMNASTIC RINGS, ATHLETICUS: GYM KEEPER and ATHLETICUS: SYNCHRONISED TRAMPOLINE (France, 2019) and continuing with COUCOULEURS by Oana Lacroix (Switzerland, 2018), GIRAFFE by Julia Ocker (Germany, 2018), HUG ME. BIG ONE AND SMALL ONE by Tomasz Miazga (Poland, 2019), HUGO & HOLGER by Teddy Halkier Kristiansen (Denmark, 2019), I HAVE A LITTLE CACTUS by Meike Fehre (Germany, 2019), INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S SONGS by Maya Rothkirch (Germany, 2019), KOYAA - ELUSIVE PAPER by Kolja Saksida (Slovenia, 2019), THE LAST DAY OF AUTUMN by Marjolaine Perreten (Switzerland, 2019), MILES AWAY by Barbara Brunner (Switzerland, 2018), MOKA by Valeria Weerasinghe (United Kingdom, 2019), THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING by Arna Selznick (Canada, 2018), THE NIGHT FAIRYTALE by Maria Stepanova (Russia, 2019), PINS AND NEEDLES by Julien Celin and Kerrie Costello (Ireland, 2018), SHEEP by Julia Ocker (Germany, 2018), SMALL SPARK by Julie Rembauville (France, 2019), STUMPED by Christina Farman (USA, 2018), SWEETIE PIE by Claudia Röthlin and Yves Gutjahr (Switzerland, 2018).

ELEMENTS +6

Friendship, family, magic and first life challenges: these are the fundamental themes of the works selected for Elements +6. The selection opens with ADVENTURES OF SAINT NICHOLAS by Semen Gorov (Ukraine, 2018), Big Hand Films international distribution. On Saint Nicholas's Day eve, 2nd-grade pupil Artem with his elder sister and parents are forced to move from the city to the small house in the Carpathian Mountains. The Vasylenko family are experiencing difficulties: the father is fired, children do not get along, besides, the father breaks his arm and mother takes him to the hospital. When the children find themselves at home alone, Saint Nicholas appears, but, in fact, it is a famous criminal: to save the holiday, Artem and his sister must pull together and show their courage and savvy. Director Marcus H. Rosenmuller (Germany, 2019) will be back in Giffoni with DOUBLE TROUBLE - THE MAGICAL MIRROR, Arri Media International distribution. Frido is a fun-loving kid and just like most kids his age, a little lazy in school. During a town fair, he encounters a magical mirror by which he manages to create a double of himself. With the help of his double, the kid at first lives a carefree existence, but when he reveals his secret to his classmates the situation becomes unmanageable. A different story in the animation film JACOB, MIMMI AND THE TALKING DOGS by Edmunds Jansons (Latvia, 2019), New Europe Film Sales international distribution. Jacob lives in the city and dreams of becoming an architect like his dad. Sent for a week stay at his cousin Mimmi’s place, in a suburb of Riga, the boy finds out that that the local park is about to be transformed into a new skyscrapers area: with the help of his family and of a group of talking dogs, he will try to save the green area. We are ready to live great adventures with JERRYMAYA DETECTIVE AGENCY - THE FIRST MYSTERY by Josephine Bornebusch (Sweden, 2018), Sf Studio international distribution. It is the very first case to solve for Gerry and Maya: at the Valleby school the Hammarabi sisters’ book is stolen. The book hides a mysterious secret. Everyone at school is a suspect: the fishy caretaker, the gym teacher with the tight jumpsuit, the weird librarian and even Principal Brynolfsson. The plot thickens and Jerry and Maya must face a tough challenge. A shroud of mystery also wraps around the story of Eia, protagonist of PHANTOM OWL FOREST by Anu Aun (Estonia, 2018), Attraction Distribution world sales. A young girl is brought to spend her Christmas holidays in a remote farm in the middle of nowhere: here the young protagonist discovers the beauty of nature and wildlife, helps save a primeval forest inhabited by mysterious owls and unveils her family’s well-kept secret. Also in competition, the animation film RACETIME by Benoit Godbout (Canada, 2018), Pink Parrot Media international distribution. A spectacular sled race takes place in the village and Sophie takes on debuting Zac and his cousin Charlie, but her sled disintegrates in the middle of the race. Together with his friends, the girl manages to prove that Zac cheated during the race and obtains a rematch, but at one condition: that she build an entirely new race sled. Also courageous is the protagonist of ROCCA CHANGES THE WORLD by Katja Benrath (Germany, 2019), Beta Cinema international distribution. Funny, unique and brave, Rocca lives alone in a big house: fearless and full of curiosity, she finds in Caspar a peculiar friend who will reveal himself as the class bully, but Rocca’s main goal is to win over her grandma’s heart. Short films are in this section too: in competition, BIG WOLF & LITTLE WOLF by Rémi Durin (France/Belgium, 2018), BRUISED by Rok won Hwang and Samantha Tu (USA, 2019), DAD by Atle Blakseth and Einar Dunsæd (Norway, 2019), LIKE AND FOLLOW by Tobias Schlage and Brent Forrest (Japan, 2019), PAPER KITE by Assia Kovanova (Bulgaria, 2019), SHAUL AND IVAN by Rebecca Akoun (Austria, 2019), WHITE CROW by Miran Miošić (Croatia, 2018) and ZIBILLA by Isabelle Favez (Switzerland, 2019).

ELEMENTS +10

Coming-of-age stories which make the jurors think: the feature films dedicated to the Elements +10 section certainly will not disappoint the expectations. In a not too distant future, the spacecraft Svea travels with two passengers: 12-year-old Gladys and her little brother Keaton. This is how the trip begins in ALONE IN SPACE by director Ted Kjellsson (Sweden, 2018), Trustnordisk international distribution. The two have fled from a broken Earth and are heading towards the planet Vial, but they never seem to arrive. Everything changes when something unknown crashes into the spaceship: suddenly, Gladys e Keaton are not alone in space anymore. A change of scenery with MY EXTRAORDINARY SUMMER WITH TESS by Steven Wouterlood (Holland/Germany, 2019), Picture Tree International distribution: Sam is the youngest of the family and is obsessed by the idea that one day he might become its last survivor. During a holiday, he meets the alternative and unconventional Tess, who carries big secrets, and shows him how the present can help overcome the anxiety about the future. Mischa Kamp is back in Giffoni for the fourth time with ROMY'S SALON (Holland, 2019), Attraction Distribution international distribution (he had already presented “Winky's Horse” in 2006, “Where Is Winky's Horse” in 2008 and “Boys” in 2014). Romy does not enjoy staying at her grandma’s salon after school, but soon she will discover how necessary her presence and support are for her family. In the cast of STORM BOY by Shawn Seet (Australia, 2019), Kathy Morgan International and Ambience Entertainment international distribution, there is the Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush. A young boy, grown up in a beautiful but uninhabited south Australian coastline, rescues three little pelicans. Raising them, he develops a strong bond with the birds, but he will end up in conflict with his father, and his life will change in a new and unforeseen way. In TEACHER, by Siddharth Malhotra (India, 2018), Yash Raj Films international distribution, we meet Naina Mathur, an aspiring teacher who suffers from Tourette Syndrome. After several interviews and numerous rejections, she lands her dream job as a full-time teacher in one of the most exclusive schools in the city. However, she soon realizes that the class she has been assigned comprises of defiant and impish students who can't seem to keep out of trouble. Introducing Ben, instead, is TOO FAR AWAY by Sarah Winkenstette (Germany, 2019), Weydemann Bros international distribution. Ben and his family must move to the nearby city, because an open brown coal pit will swallow their village soon. During his journey Ben meets Tariq, a Syrian refugee: the two start out as competitors - at school and at the football club - but soon find out that they have more in common than they thought they would. Returning to Giffoni also director Xu Geng (already in competition in 2000 with “Thatched Memories”) with YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE (China, 2018), Attraction Distribution world sales. A football, a teacher with a lot of passion, an old principal who can’t stand soccer, a group of energetic grass-roots children and a world-shaking earthquake: catastrophe falls upon them before they start enjoying their happy childhood. How will they move forward? Eight the short films in competition: THE SCHOOL TRIP by Salvatore Allocca (Italy, 2018), PRAYER TO SAN GENNARO by Cristina Buoninfante (Italy, 2018), NEW NEIGHBOURS by Andrea Mannino, Sara Burgio and Giacomo Rinaldi (Italy, 2018), BOG HOLE by Torfinn Iversen (Norway, 2018), DISREPUTE by Stephane Mounkassa and Stefan Sundin (Sweden, 2019), DOZE by Alfonso Acosta (Colombia, 2019), FISHNET AND THE FISH by Ali Nikfar (Iran, 2018), ROBOT WILL PROTECT YOU by Nicola Piovesan (Estonia, 2018).

GENERATOR +13

The complexity of the first love relationships, the elaboration of bereavement and self-discovery are some of the themes emerging from the films selected for the section Generator +13. A story of courage, love, hope and family, imbued with the capacity of music to relieve the human spirit: it is BLINDED BY THE LIGHT (United Kingdom, 2019) by director Gurinder Chadha, known to the public for Bend It Like Beckham. The feature film, distributed in Italy by Warner Bros, tells about Javed a British teen of Pakistani descent, growing up in the town of Luton, England, in 1987. Amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times, Javed writes poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditionalist father, but when a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, he finds in the powerful lyrics of the Boss parallels to his working-class life and he begins to find the courage to express himself in his own unique voice.  Mylia is going through a complex time too, and her story is told in A COLONY by Genevieve Dulude-De Celles (Canada, 2019), Indie Sales international distribution. Everything changes when she meets her classmate Jimmy, a boy from the nearby Abenaki reserve who encourages her to overcome the limits imposed by a rigid society. Friendship is also the core of KNOCKOUT by Gholam Reza Ramezani (Iran, 2019), Kanoon international distribution. Bijan is surprised how quickly Mohammad and Amir have become friends. He is a bullying boy at school and is supposed to compete with Amir as a representative from his Tekvando club. When Mohammad comes to know that Amir had a very serious disease and if he is defeated by Bijan he will pass away, the solution seems to be only one: ask Bijan to lose against Amir. Based on a true story, MY NAME IS SARA by Steven Oritt (Poland, 2019), Media Luna New Films international distribution. The film will be presented at the festival as a world premiere. Sara is a 13-year-old Jew whose entire family was killed by Nazis in September of 1942. After a grueling escape, she steals her best friend’s identity and finds refuge in a small village, where she is taken in by a farmer and his young wife. She soon discovers the dark secrets of their marriage, endangering the secret of her real identity. A wild quest for love that of the untamed protagonist of SYSTEM CRASHER by Nora Fingscheidt (Germany, 2019), Beta Cinema international distribution. Benni has become what child protection services call a “system crasher”. And she is certainly not looking to change her ways. She has one single goal: to be back at home with her mommy, Bianca, who, however, fears her own daughter. Trying her best to find a permanent placement for the child, Mrs. Bafané from child protection services hires Micha, an anger management trainer, and suddenly there is a seed of hope. A change of scenery with the strong tones and delicate feelings of a drama about two teenagers at an important crossroads of their existence: it is STUPID YOUNG HEART by Selma Vilhunen (Finland/Holland/Sweden, 2018), The Yellow Affair and Tuffi Films international distribution. The film is about the first love between the skinny and carefree Lenni and the gorgeous and popular Kiira: when they discover that they are expecting a baby, Lenni, grown up without a father figure in a right wing xenophobic environment, has only nine months to become a man. From Japan, WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES, debut film of director Makoto Nagahisa (Japan, 2019), Nikkatsu Corporation international distribution. A pop kaleidoscope which, with an exorbitant aesthetic approach, follows four 13-year-old Japanese kids dealing with the wildness of a life which, since its beginnings, presents itself as challenging. Orphans and alone in the world, the kids decide to form a kick-ass band to combat the emptiness around them.

GENERATOR +16

The light-heartedness, unexpected events and concerns of the turbulent teenage years are the themes of the films selected for Generator +16. In GIANT LITTLE ONES by Keith Behrman (Canada, 2018), Mongrel International distribution, Franky Winter and Ballas Kohl have been friends since childhood. They are high school royalty: handsome, stars of the swim team and popular with girls, they live a perfect teenage life – until the night of Franky’s epic 17th birthday party, when both are involved in an unexpected incident that will change their lives forever. The teenage self-will in pursuing one’s own dreams is in GOLDIE by Sam De Jong (USA, 2019), Goldie Films Vice Films international distribution. The girl wants to be a star: she’s just got to pick up that golden fur coat she’s had her eye on first, land a role as a dancer in a hip-hop video and keep child welfare services from separating her from her little sisters Sherrie and Supreme. Holding onto those dreams is not easy since her mother is in prison and fate has placed daunting obstacles in her path. HARAJUKU by Eirik Svensson (Norway, 2018), Charades international distribution, is the story of a very difficult day in Vilde’s life. The day before Christmas the rebellious teenager learns that her mother has died in an accident. She is forced by child welfare services to contact her biological father, whom she has never met. She tries to escape it all with a one-way ticket to Tokyo: everything will depend on her fundamental first meeting with her father. It is a scorching August on the streets of Belgrade: from here starts LOVE CUTS by Kosta Dordevic (Serbia, 2019), Soul Food Films international distribution.  A cocky teenage girl, Aja, breaks up with her boyfriend for the umpteenth time. A few hours later, she gets stabbed by a gang of local kids: for the rest of the day the girl struggles between taking revenge and making up with her boyfriend. METEORITES by Romain Laguna (France, 2018), Indie Sales international distribution, is a love story. 16-year-old Nina has a summer job in a theme where she falls in love with Morad, elder brother of her Algerian colleague. Nina’s impetuous and adventurous nature crashes against Morad’s chauvinism: first love, as the title and the protagonist’s visions suggest, upset your existence with the devastating power of a meteorite. We go on a trip through Europe with ROADS by Sebastian Schipper (Germany/France, 2018), Hanway Films international distribution. 18-year-old Gyllen has taken his stepfather’s mobile home and fled with her same-age friend William, to help him look for his lost brother. United by a strong sense of dismay, the two make their way through Morocco, Spain and France all the way to Calais. While their mutual friendship grows, they are confronted with decisions that will have a lasting effect - and not only on their lives. The section is closed by TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG (Chile/Brasil/Qatar, 2018), Stray Dogs, by Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor, Hanway Films international distribution. A delicate story which investigates, by three young boys’ experiences, on the change of the Chilean society after the fall of Pinochet’s regime.

GENERATOR +18

The path presented to the Generator +18 jurors is the complexity of interpersonal relationships in not-always-easy environments. JP lives with his brother Vincent, his mother Joe and his girlfriend Mel in a small flat in Verdun: this is FAMILY FIRST by Sophie Dupuis (Canada, 2018), produced by Bravo Charlie. Always on a razor’s edge, JP tries to keep the right balance between his family’s needs, of which he feels responsible, work and uncle’s involvement in the drug dealing business. His uncle is for him a father figure. Another complex story in that of GOLIATH di Peter Gronlund (Sweden, 2018), Wild Bunch international distribution. Set in a forgotten industrial town somewhere in Sweden, where many people have turned to crime, Kimmie grows in the shadow of his father Roland, a swindler. When Roland is sentenced to prison for drug dealing, the 17-year-old boy must choose between running away with his girlfriend Jonna or taking over his father’s criminal business. Director Guy Nattiv is back to Giffoni with SKIN (USA, 2019), Sunfilm Group Italian distribution. Inspired by the remarkable true story of Bryon Widner, who endured over a year of painful operations to his face and body to remove the tattoos that tied him to his terrible past, the film is starred by Jamie Bell, who was guest of the Festival in 2001. It is the story of a destitute young man, raised by racist skinheads and notorious among white supremacists, who turns his back on hatred and violence to transform his life. Halfway between imagination and reality, THE PLACE OF NO WORDS di Mark Webber (United Kingdom/USA/Australia, 2019), Wide Awake Cinema international distribution, presents us Bodhi Palmer and his family. At the center of the film the way we deal with death and love, laughter and pain, narrated through eyes of a father and his son. Love again is the undisputed protagonist of YOU DESERVE A LOVER by Hafsia Herzi (France, 2019), Wild Bunch international distribution. Following Remi's infidelity, Lila is struggling to deal with their break-up. But things are going to change: from Bolivia, where he has gone on a soul-searching quest, Remi lets her know that their relationship is not over. CANARY by Christiaan Olwagen (South Africa, 2018) Breaking Glass Pictures international distribution. In 1986 South Africa, 18-year-old Johan Niemand is called to his military service and, after a successful audition, he joins the SADF choir named Canarie. In a place where law and religion oppress individuality, Johan and the other choir kids have to survive the military training and take part in a national tour promoting the cause of Church and State. During the tour, Johan falls in love with a fellow choir singer and begins questioning himself and his world. YOUNGJU by Cha Sungduk (South Korea, 2018), M-Line Distribution world sales, is the title of the last feature film in competition and the name of the protagonist of its story. Suddenly in charge of her family, Youngju must quit school, but her brother keeps making troubles and so the girl decides to ask for help from the couple who caused her parent’s death. Nine are the short films presented to the Generator +18: BLIESCHOW by Christoph Sarow (Germany, 2019), LISTEN PAPA! by Olga and Tatiana Poliektova (Russia, 2019), PER ASPERA AD ASTRA by Franck Dion (France, 2019), PER TUTTA LA VITA by Roberto Catani (Italy/France, 2018), SAIGON SUR MARNE by Aude Ha Leplège (Belgium, 2019), SELFIES by Claudius Gentinetta (Switzerland, 2018), SONG SPARROW by Farzaneh Omidvarnia (Denmark, 2019), UNCLE THOMAS by Regina Pessoa (Portugal, 2019) and WE_SOUNDS by David Carrizales (Spain, 2019).

GEX-DOC-PARENTAL EXPERIENCE

The works selected for the GEX DOC-PARENTAL EXPERIENCE are based on true stories, narrated in documentary form. The section opens with the Italian THE HEART OF A DOLL by Antonio Di Domenico (Italy, 2019), Tvco International Distribution. Veronica Tulli, aka Lulu Rimmel, is an exceptional performer: she’s petite but when she sings her voice never goes unnoticed. Her disease, the so called “brittle bone syndrome”, is not an obstacle for her, though: she performs as a singing doll on the stage of the Freak Show and in other shows in different places of the Roman underground scene. She is witty, charming and romantic and wants it all, no compromises! She has turned her disability into just another minor glitch in life. An Italian director too for WHO'S ROMEO by Giovanni Covini (Italy, 2018), product by Centro Asteria. Four seventeen-year-old girls and two boys of the same age, Christian and Muslim, challenge themselves with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, led by a young actress. During each Act the kids will read, rehearse, look around and into themselves, discovering each other as they discover the surrounding world. The section continues with ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT by James Longley (USA/Denmark, 2018), The Film Collaborative, Louverture Films e Ro*Co Films International world sales. Twelve years after his Oscar-nominated film "Iraq in Fragments", the American documentarist offers a wide and deeply sympathetic portrait of Afghan students and teachers who still survive their nation’s turmoil. BRUCE LEE AND THE OUTLAW by Joost Vandebrug (United Kingdom/Holland/Czech Republic, 2018), Taskovski Films and Grain Media international distribution, instead, is a debut and follows the lives of the homeless children living in Bucharest North Station. By Maya Newell’s IN MY BLOOD IT RUNS (Australia, 2019), produced by Closer Productions, we meet 10-year-old Dujuan, a child healer and Arrernte (Australian Aboriginal people) hunter, able to speak three languages, who is ‘failing’ in school and must face increasing scrutiny from welfare and police. As he travels perilously close to incarceration, his family fight to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western education lest he becomes another statistic. A story of courage, IN THE NAME OF YOUR DAUGHTER by Giselle Portenier (Canada/Tanzania/United Kingdom, 2018), DR TV international distribution. Rosie Makore has run away from her home in Northern Tanzania to save herself from female genital mutilation and the child marriage her parents planned for her. To save girls like Rosie, Rhobi Samwelly, one of Africa’s most charismatic women, protects girls of any religion at her Safe House, and risks her life travelling around the countryside fighting against this thousands-year-old tradition. Closing the competition, LITTLE GERMANS by Frank Geiger and Mohammad Farokhmanesh (Germany, 2019), produced by Brave New Work, Dr Sales international distribution. The feature film combines animation and documentary to tell the story of children that are born into right-wing families. How does it feel to grow up in a world where empathy is subsidiary and “the nation” stands above everything? To parents and filmgoers are dedicated the seven short films in competition: ADAM'S SKIRT by Clément Trehin Lalanne (France, 2018), THE HEDGEHOG'S DILEMMA by Francesca Scalisi (Switzerland, 2019), JUST ME AND YOU by Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers (Canada, 2019), MOTHER AND MILK by Ami Lindholm (Estonia, 2019), PIGGY by Carlota Martínez Pereda (Spin, 2018), SILKWORMS by Carlos Villafaina (Spain, 2018) and SKIN byi Guy Nattiv (USA, 2018). Reserved for the same audience, but included in the section Destinazione Italia are seven national productions: A TYPICAL NAME FOR A POOR CHILD by Emanuele Aldrovandi (2019), ANNE by Stefano Malchiodi and Domenico Croce (2019), BROTHER by Beppe Tufarulo (2019), GROUND FLOOR by Natalino Zangaro (2018), MATILDE'S FIRST DAY by Rosario Capozzolo (2019), PUPONE by Alessandro Guida (2019) and LA REGINA SI ADDORMENTA DOVE VUOLE by Lorenzo Tiberia (2019).

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