The Kiev International Film Festival is named Molodist. This word in Ukrainian means Youth. However, it’s ironically one of the oldest film festivals on the post-Soviet territory, being founded some 34 years ago. Molodist gives preferences to student films and debut works (short and feature films). This year’s Kiev International Film Festival took place, by chance, at the same time as the very nervous president election in Ukraine and the big strike on DHL. That’s why the order of the program was broken as some films selected for competition had not arrived at the right time, and weren’t shown at all. This also expalins why the members of the three (Main, FICC & FIPRESCI) juries had a really limited choice and had to discuss the same movies.
Student features and shorts focused on the same subjects; childhood, first love, and (it’s a big surprise for me) senility and death. The best of the shorts tried to depict their subjects in an unusual way. The story of A Different War by Israeli director Nadav Gal (in the student competition) draws on references to the legend of King David. The main character, a young effeminate boy, proves his right to be himself, dancing on the border wall between Israelis and Palestinian villages in front of Arabian bullets. The films message is directed not against Palestinians but against stereotypes of masculinity and domination.
Avery unusual look at such subjects as love, senility and death was presented by The Last Farm by Icelandic director Runar Runarsson (in the shorts competition). The story about an old man from a distant farm, who buries himself side by side with his dead wife, reminded me of the plots of the classic stories Romeo & Juliet and Tristan & Isolda. This film, which is not sentimental but really tragic, combines brilliant cinematography with a well-written script and very stylish directing.
Amongst the main competition was a film from Northen Europe called One (Uno) by Norwegian director Aksel Hennie. The film deals with an important social problem – how criminal groups’ ideology influences the life of contemporary youngsters. The leading character (played by the director himself) begins to struggle for his own opinion on the notions of courage, honesty and honour. But the actor-director tries not only to make a social drama, but a kind of parable too.
Unfortunately, the statute of the festival gives permission for screening in Kiev for film copies only. Movies made on the digital video format can’t be shown here. And to my mind, it’s a big problem of contemporary Youth because the most vivid, experimental, innovative debuts are filmed on digital video now. That’s why movies from the competition program represent the mainstream cinema, but not the film vanguard.
© FIPRESCI 2004