A Molodist Report

in 46th Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival

by Katharina Dockhorn

Two Polish directors and two Polish painters dominated the closing ceremony of the 46th Molodist film festival in Kiev. The The last family (Ostatnia Rodzina) by Jan P. Matuszynski won the Grand Jury Prize. The young director draws an extraordinary picture of the famous surrealist painter Zdzislaw Beksínski, which begins with his family move into a modern flat in Warszawa in the 1970s and ends with his violent death in the 2000s. The film focusses on the confused emotional relationship between the artist and his shy and depressive son, a countrywide known DJ, dubbing actor and moderator.

Similarly, his renowned countryman Andrzej Wajda dedicates his last film Afterimage (Powidoki) to a Polish artist: Wladyslaw Strzeminski, a companion of Chagall and Kandinsky. While Wajda was still studying at the Polish Film School in Lodz in the 1950s, Strzeminski had already been disgraced by the communist authorities for refusing to make aesthetic and ideological compromises. Strzeminski lost his job, his reputation and his health, and only a handful of students remained loyal to this outsider.

Wajda´s last feature film closed the festival in Kiev, initially established as a Festival of Soviet Film Schools. Curiously, the father of the young Kirgizian director Mirlan Abdykalykov has had his career inaugurated at this festival many years ago. The son presented in competition his debut Heavenly Nomadic (Sutak) – a film about a family keeping the old traditions by breeding sheep and horses, and passing on the old myths to younger generations.

The program of current Kiev festival is versatile. Alongside with students’ and short films, for prizes compete also movies for children and youth, as well as debuts, made by directors from all over the world. It was nice to see that four out of 12 feature film debuts were made by young women.

All directors focused on family dynamics – predicated by intimate but unstable generational gap – and on describing empathically the desire for love and bonding, and the difficult path towards reconciliation after someone gets hurt or let down. And, above all, the films tended to see overwhelmingly the life choices of the young as a consequence of the behaviour of the elderly.

The Last Family as well as in the French tragic comedy Willy 1er (Willy 1 ER), made by Zoran Boukherma, Ludovic Boukherma, Marielle Gautier and Hugo P. Thomas, demonstrate how hard it is for children to step out of their parents mould, and pursue an independent life. In Keeper (Keeper) by Belgian director Guillaume Senez, a 15 year old teenage couple is determined to give birth to their child. He is also ready to give up a career in a big French football club, but their decisions keep being frustrated by their parents. In a similar fashion, Sand Storm (Sufat Chol), directed by Elite Exter – about two Bedouin families, living in the Israeli Negev – presents the doomed love of Jovan and Maja as their failure to mature and grow stronger because of the interferences of their clans.

In Hedi (Inhebbe Hedi), Tunisian director Mohamed Ben Attia shows a man who has to get out of his comfort zone in order to live up to his big love. In contrast to that, Aloys from the correspondingly innovative movie by Swiss director Tobias Nölle is compelled to look for his own identity after the death of his father.

Of course, Coming-of- Age stories are always high on the agenda of young filmmakers. In Heartstone (Hjartasteinn) Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson, for example, evokes his own emotional confusion during puberty. His Icelandic producer Anton Máni Svansson was especially happy that the film received both the Audience and the FIPRESCI awards, which is quite a rare feat.

In a similar fashion, Sharbanoo Sadat has turned to her own experiences for the script of Wolf and Sheep, in which two kids become outsiders in a little village in the mountains of Afghanistan. The director was born in Teheran as a refugee, but the family was forced to return home after 9/11, which was a truly shocking experience for her as a young girl.

The daily corruption in Bulgaria is the main topic of Godless (Bezbog) by Ralitza Petrova. She tells the depressing story of the introvert nurse Gaga, who was raped as a child. In our days, Gaga steals her patient`s IDs and sells them to criminals – deals, which the police also profit from.

The Open Door (La puerta abierta), made by Marina Seresesky, is inspired by Pedro Almodovar`s style. She creates a wonderful parable about the solidarity among prostitutes in Madrid and draws an amazing emotional picture of a woman over 50, who finally finds the strength to make a clean break with her past. The Slovakian Marko Skop, on the other hand, tells the story of Eva Nova (Eva Nova) – a once celebrated actor, who drowned her career frustrations in alcohol. After the withdrawal, she tries to build a new relationship with her sister and her son, whom she has let down.

Edited by Christina Stojanova