"Armin" Return to the Roots by Sergey Lavrentiev

in 7th Wiesbaden Festival of Central and Eastern European Film - goEast

by Sergei Lavrentiev

In his previous film Sorry for Kung Fu (Oprosti za kung fu) Croatian director Ognien Svilicic used a very simple, almost stupid, frame: the wheels of an automobile. He used this shot several times. We did not see the auto itself — just the running wheels. The first time we saw this — we smile, the second time we realize that it’s a low budget movie and the director has no money to show how the car is going in and out. The third time we understand: Mr. Svilicic is a director who can turn the absence of money to artistic merit.

space.In his new film Armin he tells a story of a Bosnian family, father and son, going to the Croatian capital for an audition of a new German film about the war. And, like in Sorry for kung fu, he used another “stupid” frame: now — the feet. Two pairs of feet going back and forward several times again. Watching this we discover that it’s not only a question of the budget, it’s a type of filmmaking which is “in the director’s blood”.
The way from the Bosnian village to the Croatian capital is too long for the protagonists. They are tired. They are afraid of this audition. The father wants his son to be in the pictures. The son is a little bit shy, but the father acts like a “dumb but clever peasant” wanting to do everything to reach his aim.

Emir Hadgihafisbegovic is one of the great modern European actors and he portrays the father brilliantly. But even if there were another actor in his place, we, the audience would not only understand but even feel the content because of the director’s cinematic talent.

The walking feet are the same at each appearance. Using the Kuleshov effect, the director edits the feet with some different episodes, Svilicic, like his “dumb but clever” hero, reaches what he wants to reach. This father and son became our friends. We love them. We want them to win. When Armin fails we suddenly understand that it was something during the war which made the guy a “little bit shy”. And when neither Armin nor the father tells the German director what really happened, we agree with Mr. Svilicic who also keeps the secret.

I hope every film student knows about the Kuleshov effect. But unfortunately the majority of new directors prefer to use elements from TV advertising and work with a “green screen”. I hope, too, that every film student has seen Belissima by Lucino Visconti, but no one tried to make his own version of this classic. The classic is a classic because each time one can film it in a new way.

It seems to me, nowadays that young directors know only one name from film history. They prefer to be a Croatian, German, Russian, Rumanian … Tarantino and try to kill more people on the screen than even Quentin himself did not do.

So, when in a modern film world you meet the director who tells very simple stories using pure film language; whose style grows out of great film history, you start think that if there is even one such a director, may be the future of filmmaking is not that bad.