понеделник, 22 декември 2014 г.
The Balkans in 480 minutes
The third edition of the Online Short Film Festival for Balkan cinema altcineAction! started on September 3rd, and the platform was open for a month not only for submissions – the audience could also watch, vote, and write critical reviews for the uploaded participants, all that on the festival’s website. Organized by the Athens-based AltCine, the festival provides space for uploading up to 480 minutes of short fictions, documentaries and experimental movies, made in all of the Balkan countries. In addition, altcineAction! bestows different awards for a total amount of 50 000 EUR in production grants and services for the winners’ next films. The open form of the project gives opportunity to many young and upcoming Balkan directors to present their work and also to the audience to keep in touch with the new names in film industry from this specific region. And it is no surprise that emerging filmmakers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey filled in quickly the 480-minute quota. The movies, shown in the festival programme, were mostly students’ works and different types of short exercises. They vary in quality and degree of professionalism, but some of them reveal great sparks of talent and specific cinematic skills. In a way, the collection creates a puzzle of social issues, political or personal crises, which lie at the core of our modern culture and seem to provoke the young authors. One of the most interesting shorts in the festival programme, in my opinion, is a 4-minute animation, titled HABITAT (2013) by Ina Georgieva / Bulgaria. HABITAT is a very well-drawn dark graphic, which shows the basic model of human living by representing the primitive circle of human reproduction. With its philosophical subject, the film reminds of Jan Švankmajer’s doomed and absurd universe, yet stylistically Ina Georgieva is much closer to the expressionism, by shading amorphous and structureless figures. The claustrophobic cubes (the space for living and reproduction) are representing the disturbing unification and the misery, caused by living in the Eastern European socialist flats, with their fixed sizes and typified architecture, designed to cover only the basic human needs. There is no space left for imagination. The uncivilized manner of living, shown in the movie, speaks of neglecting of the culture. The culture is regarded as needless, and the living is reduced to its essential meaning - reproduction. This back-and-forth circle of human degradation is imprinted in Ina Georgieva’s short. INGREDIENTS (2014) by Norika Sefa / Kosovo, which deals with an inner psychological conflict of a twenty-something girl called Eeva, is an impressive (though not unseen before) female diary of fears, confusion, frustration, dreams, and desperation. The title justifies in a way the motivation or the excuse for an absence of real dramaturgical structure. There are a lot of wonderful sequences – eating strawberry with frustration, followed by Eeva nervously putting on and off clothes and then desperately lying on the bed for hours – but the lack of a plot makes INGREDIENTS an experimental impressionistic exercise. Even so, the film demands attention with the director’s skills in creating a light rhythm and proper atmosphere, there is no doubt that these “ingredients” are of great importance in this type of cinema, which seeks emotional resonance in the audience. Talking about cine-impressions, we should mention also ONE LINE (2012) by Dimitris Argyriou / Greece – a wonderfully created dream-like journey through different cities. INTELLECTUAL TRAMPS (2014) by Steven Gekas / Greece offers a different type of cinema. The director seeks a rational approach to the philosophical theme of crime and punishment. Structured as a dialogue between a criminal and the officials, who have the task to decide whether to send him to death row or in a mental institution, INTELLECTUAL TRAMPS brings well derived tension but also questions the general right of authorities to make such decisions. Engaged with social and family issues, JESUS STOPPED AT GYZI (2013) by Amerissa Basta / Greece, 2013), A DAY WITH MY FATHER (2014) by Alexis Quantas / Greece, and MAMA (2013) by Ahmet Bikiç / Turkey are important with their very clear and simple yet strong and valuable messages. MAMA is based on a true story. In 2012, world media were sharing a touching photo of a boy, lying on his own chalk drawing – his mother’s portrait. Last year, another photo with the same subject, but this time of a girl, was published in the social networks. The director Ahmet Bikiç, who made a moving film reproduction of that second photo, states the following: “The ongoing wars in the Middle East have caused countless number of children to grow up as orphans. Left with feelings of fear and anger, the memories of childhood never part with them ”. The poignant JESUS STOPPED AT GYZI (First Voting Prize) and the raw A DAY WITH MY FATHER are both original in their study of the universal theme of a loss of a parent and its consequences. Even though it shows a dose of didactics in its social criticism, JESUS STOPPED AT GYZI probably won the audience’s heart with the great performance of the young actress and its optimistic tone. As for the awards, The Second Voting Prize went to LINDA (2012) by Antonia Milcheva / Bulgaria – a short, based on a poem by the Bulgarian writer Kristin Dimitrova. The simple plot revolves around the ritual of burying a dead dog, the film’s greatest skill is the well-kept balance between the warm humor and the tragic overtones in a story told with no dialogue. PENGUNIUS (2012) by Dimitris Zahos / Greece (Third Voting Prize) and AMEL (2012) by More Raca / Kosovo (Alinda Dimitriou Award) are similar in their message that humans could easily yield to social difficulties. PENGUNIUS, based on the story by Christos Economou Penguins Outside the Accountant’s Office, is set against the background of the Greek economic crisis in the last few years. It is a really raw and life-like story about two brothers with different tempers. The younger brother, who is unruly and disobedient, does not want to accept the life “of penguins” in a politically and economically rotten system, so he often goes to jail. His older brother is unsuccessfully trying to keep him away from troubles. All this provokes their father to try to commit suicide by swallowing nails. The film is well directed visually but lacks a narrative clarity and ends somehow abruptly. On the other hand, in its wonderfully created authentic atmosphere and rhythm AMEL reminds in a way of Dardenne brothers’ TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT / DEUX JOURS, UNE NUIT (2014) or the Bulgarian THE LESSON / UROK (2014) by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, as they all follow a working-class female protagonist going through increasing difficulties. The absurd arises from the fact that Amel’s dream to be casted for a part in foreign movie comes true, but she could not leave Kosovo because of different obstacles, such as the complex relationship with her family or visa complications. The story of Amel reveals many actual social problems in a tight and compact narrative, conveyed visually in very realistic and simple manner. The Best Editing Award went to BOTEV IS AN IDIOT (2012) by Deyan Bararev / Bulgaria – a whole film in just one shot, in which a student argues with the old concepts of Bulgarian nationalism (personified by his teacher), implanted in the 1980s by the Socialist government as a last attempt to consolidate the nation. BOTEV IS AN IDIOT highlights the harsh problems of the outdated educational system in Bulgaria. The Best Cinematography Award was picked by HALF-BOARD HEAVEN (2012) by Giorgos Ktistakis / Greece for the great skills of the DoP Kostis Nikolopoulos in “decoupage, camera move, angles and especially light elegantly and intelligently contributed to the overall storytelling atmosphere” in a complicated story, which crosses the borders of different genres. And last but not least, altcineAction! is one of few festivals with an award for Best Critic. This year the prize was claimed by Tara Karajica for her “profound analysis on the narrative, the visual vocabulary and the author’s style”. Sotiris Dimitriou, member of the Jury, noted that the movies that took part in the 3th edition of the festival do not propose new societal forms but instead focus on exposing existing problems. As citizens and authors, the young filmmakers are examining the essential issues of our modern society and aim for possible changes. We could say that there is clearly a generation that is deeply sensitive, both socially and politically, but also very reflective on personal, inner turmoils. A generation that does not believe in “the great narratives” of 20th century, a generation that was born and lived in the last 25 years of instability, several wars, economical and political crises, protests of hope and despair, corruption and poverty. As a result, those 480 minutes of Balkan cinema lead us in many different directions. Part of the movies are socially and politically engaged, others deal with general philosophical subjects. There are well-crafted fictions, raw realistic stories, and also very talented insights into personal human crises. In conclusion, I must say that following the altcineAction! film festival is important in order to see nowadays’ society through the eyes of young Balkan filmmakers. (http://festivalists.com/post/100405497496/altcineaction)