All the Lonely People

in 37th Kiev Molodist-International Film Festival

by György Kárpáti

It was very exciting to see that in the Molodist competition program there were several films from different countries with very different styles and themes. However, there was one topic which was very common in some of the films: the theme of loneliness.

It was the main theme of the French-Spanish Lo que sé de Lola (by Javier Rebollo) — the FIPRESCI Prize winner in London in 2006, of the Israeli-French The Band’s Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, by Eran Kolirin), partly in the Indian Vanaja (by Rajnesh Domalpalli) and also in the Latvian Monotonija (by Juris Poskus).

In the first film, Lo que sé de Lola, a middle-aged man’s mother dies and after inheriting lots of money, the lonely guy spends his time spying on his pretty neighbor. Never speaking to her, just looking, following, and noting down every step of Lola’s life. We soon realize that not only is the poor guy lonely but so is Lola. The talented Javier Rebollo, in his first feature, uses only a fixed camera, creating a brilliant atmosphere and making the invisible (the soul of a man) visible.

Lo que sé de Lola is a pure drama without a happy end and a solution to the problems of the lonely people. The Band’s Visit is also about loneliness, but with a sense of humor and irony. There is a lot of camera movement, but usually very slow and often stopping, just like the Egyptian band who is visiting Israel. Owing to some misunderstanding they travel to the wrong destination and they have to “survive” the night with the help of a woman, a local restaurant owner. The Band’s Visit is about cultural differences, eternal loneliness and deep emotions. In a way everybody is lonely in the movie: some want to do something against it, others don’t — and we see this in a very fresh, clever and entertaining way.

In Vanaja there are connections and relations among the people, but the child-mother Vanaja is lonely. After she is raped and gives birth to a child, she moves in with the family of the child’s father, but lives like a pariah. And the alcoholic father is no help either.

Shot in Dogma-style, Monotonija deals with an out-of-town girl who wants to escape her boring life and make her dreams come true by becoming an actress in the capital. Although she has a boyfriend in the countryside and a girlfriend in the town, she can’t manage her life and becomes even lonelier. The director of the film creates a very sad Latvian world, without hope and solution. The great acting too makes the movie remarkable.