Open Endings

in 16th Sofia International Film Festival

by Leslaw Roman Czaplinski

Among the films presented in the International competition of the 16th Sofia International Film Festival, there were several films with free narrative composition, in particular those which had open endings leaving space for the creative work of the viewer, referring to their imagination and intelligence instead of explaining everything. The American film Magic Valley (2011) by Jaffe Zinn had a plot which included several threads yet its main focus was shifted from dialogues which explained everything to frames which evoked an aura of mystery. Such mysterious and evocative images included motifs of dead fish and the corpse of an unknown girl found by two children who decide for themselves what to do with the body. The Bulgarian film Faith, Love and Whiskey (Vyara, lyubov i uiski, 2012) by Kristina Nikolova also left a certain space for viewers’ interpretation in its open ending. The film told the story of the impossibility of integration for a young woman torn between life in her place of origin (Sofia) and her chosen life in exile (New York). These two incompatible cultural realities were personified in the heroine’s lovers: Bulgarian and American. The Cypriot film Fish n’ chips (2011) was devoted to the condition of migrants who cannot return to their “lost place” in their native land. In turn, the Polish film Father, Son and Holy Cow (Swieta krowa, 2011) by Radoslaw Wegrzyn used a comic formula to tell a story of serious ethical problems surrounding the right to die with dignity (euthanasia), which after recent parliamentary elections has ceased to be taboo and has become a topic for a public debate in Poland.

Generation P (Pokolyenie P, 2011), a Russian film by Victor Ginzburg adapted from the novel by Victor Pelevin was distinguished by its unification of various narrative and camerawork techniques, including the use of computer animation characteristic of multimedia civilization and the advertising world in which the film is set. The film’s hero is Babylen, whose name evokes the beginning of the poem “Babijar” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, which tells the story of the Holocaust of the Kiev Jews and the revolutionary  pseudonym of Vladimir Lenin. Babylen is a modern Voltairian Candide who is subject to the events around him without having any possibility to influence them. Russia is a setting for the plot, the global “everywhere” to a certain extent, a representative of the reality of modern, totally commercialized capitalism.  There are references to O Lucky Man! by Lindsay Anderson, and in the film’s finale there is a tribute to traditional cinematography as the multiplied hero recedes far into the depth of the frame like Chaplin’s tramp…

In turn, Found Memories (Histórias que só existem quando lembradas, 2011) by Julia Murat was a tribute to photography, including the moving picture. It pointed to film as a means of overcoming the severe fate and the destructive force of time.Many films in competition were derivative in nature, evoking an impression of déjà vu as they included too many plot and stylistic borrowings from existing films already well-known in the history of cinematography.

However, the festival’s short film competition offered an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with shorts by young Bulgarian film directors, which could tell you about the future of the cinema in this country.