Indian Summer in Bratislava

in 15th International Film Festival Bratislava

by Pierre-Yves Roger

The fifteenth edition of the Bratislava international Film Festival was placed under the sign of Indian summer, both in the real world – the month of November was unusually hot in the Slovak capital – and on screen, where Yozgat Blues, one of the main competition films, featured several times Joe Dassin’s hit Indian Summer, sang by an old singer. Like the majority of the eight movies, comprising the first and second feature film competition, Yozgat Blues (by Mahmut Fazil Coskun, Turkey) is not very optimistic. Yet it shows in a very realistic way the relationship between an old singer, a young woman singing backup vocals for him, and a shy barber working for them.

The winner of the main competition is Class Enemy (Razredni sovražnik), which has already been nominated as the Slovenian candidate for the American Academy Awards. Class Enemy (by Rok Bicek, Slovenia) is a story of rebellion. In a high school, a girl commits suicide. Her classmates blame her death on a very strict teacher. “It is based on a true story,” said filmmaker Rok Bicek after the screening. He was himself a student at the school when the tragic event happened. Class Enemy reminds of The Class (Entre les murs by Laurent Cantet, France), which also evokes a conflict between a teacher and his class, and went to win the Golden Palm in Cannes in 2008.

Class Enemy won the Grand Prix for the best film, the FIPRESCI jury award, while Igor Samobor, who plays the strict teacher, got the Best Actor award. Anna Odell received the Best Actress award for her performance in The Reunion (Återträffen) – a story about a get-together  of former classmates – which she also directed. The reunion, supposed to be a happy event, turns sour after one woman explains how much she suffered from the maliciousness of some of her classmates. The Best Director prize was awarded ex-aequo to Yuriy Bykov for his film The Major (Mayor), and to Bobo Jelsic, for the film A Stranger (Obrana i zastita). The Major, a violent thriller, shows the corruption within a local police unit in Russia. A Stranger evokes, in a creative style, the divisions between Muslims and Christians in the Herzegovinian city of Mostar. Love Me (Sev beni), by Maryna Gorbach (Ukraine) and Mehmet Bahadir Er (Turkey), Two Mothers (Zwei Mütter) by Anne Zohra Berrached (Germany), and Zoran, My Nephew the Idiot (Zoran, il mio nipote scemo), albeit not among the winners, present captivating contemporary narratives. Love Me is a strange love story between a Turkish man and an Ukrainian woman. Two Mothers shows, in a very realistic way, the difficulties of two lesbians who decide to have a child together. Zoran, My Nephew, being the only somewhat optimistic and funny movie of the competition, tells the story of a maverick, who all of a sudden finds himself in charge of his very shy nephew.

Edited by Christina Stojanova