The grand dame of film festivals, the Berlinale, had always had good connections with South Eastern Europe and many films have premiered there. Just the other day I was talking about the phenomenon of Sworn Virgins in the mountains of Albania, where women vow to live as men and subsequently enjoy a man’s privileges. I knew there were some documentaries about them, and now the first feature film on that topics, Vergine giurata / Sworn Virgin hails from Albania and Italy! The only other candidate in the competition is a Romanian-Bulgarian history piece set in 1835 multiethnic Wallachia, where a father and son embark on a Western-esque man hunt. Whereas Aferim! is shot in black and white, De ce eu? / Why me?, shown in the Panorama section, paints an equally grim perspective on contemporary Romanian society: a young prosecutor is assigned to a case he cannot win. Flotel Europa, the only feature from the former Yugoslavia and patched together from home videos, depicts life of Serbian refugees in a hotel ship in Copenhagen. Croatia contributes a short film in the generation 14+ section: in Piknik / Picnic a box fight is needed to break the ice between estranged father and son.
Read more about the films after the jump.
SEE films in competition:
Aferim!, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic 2015, 108′, director: Radu Jude
The catalogue calls it “A moving parable about late-feudal Europe developed from historical documents and songs: its power structures and hierarchies, people’s idea of themselves and others, interaction with minorities and the resulting conflicts. A Balkan Western in black-and-white which brings the cacophony of the times strikingly to life and explores the thematic arcs which stretch into the present.”
Vergine giurata / Sworn Virgin, Italy / Switzerland / Germany / Albania / Republic of Kosovo 2015, 90 min, director: Laura Bispuri
“(…) a young woman on a difficult and painful odyssey, away from the old-fashioned world of the mountains and into the modern life of the city. The film relays the story of a woman who rediscovers her sexuality and draws on allegorical images to allude to the ambivalences in Hana’s emotional life. This empathic study makes do with little dialogue, instead relying on glances, gestures and a protagonist who faces up to her own inconsistencies”
In the Panorama Section:
De ce eu? / Why me?, Romania / Bulgaria / Hungary 2014, 130′, director: Tudor Giurgiu
“Giurgiu’s radical, bitter vision describes a country in turmoil; he also shows how state omnipotence ensues when corrupt lawmakers and executive powers cover for each other. The individual must choose between retreating into his private life and civil disobedience – and run the risk of going under.”
Flotel Europa, Denmark / Serbia 2015, 70 min, director: Vladimir Tomić
“Director Vladimir Tomić could have just used his material to illustrate a lost childhood and the squalor of refugee life, but by editing it together and drawing on his memories of that time, he succeeds in creating something new, something of his own, something special. The shift in perspective from internal to external turns Flotel Europa in an autobiographical film about a difficult lot, which is all the more touching because it liberates the refugee from the role of the victim – and transforms a shy young man into a lovable film star.”
Generation 14+ short film:
Piknik / Picnic, Croatia 2015, 13 min, director: Jure Pavlović
“Ismir has set off from Sarajevo to visit his father who is serving a sentence at a semi-open prison.The pair sits next to each other awkwardly, trying to find the right words. But once they stop talking, they get up and start boxing each other. As they box, something begins to grow between father and son. And then, Ismir, who is much smaller than his strong father, succeeds in scoring a direct hit. And all at once, the ice is finally broken.”