The Best of Eastern Movies By Ivan Corbisier

in 16th Cottbus Festival of East European Cinema

by Ivan Corbisier

This year the FIPRESCI Jury decided to give its prize to Tomorrow Morning (Sutra ujutru), a co-production between Serbia and Montenegro. The director, a well known artist in Eastern Europe, talked about a kind of lost generation – a rock n’ roll generation who has love problems and who would like to find a better way to live. One of them finds his way in Canada but he has to leave the people he likes and loves. Oleg Novkovi is a very sensitive director who expresses this question with passion. I also would like to speak about three other movies.

12:08 East Of Bucharest (A Fost Sau N-A Fost?) was directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. In Romania, 22 December 1989, the revolution sees its climax with the deposition of Dictator Nicolea Ceausescu. The popular rebellion mainly took place in Bucharest . Not surprisingly the central question in 12.08 East of Bucharest is whether the revolution also took place outside of the capital. To the day, sixteen years after the revolution, Jderescu hosts a live television show for a local channel presenting this exact question to the inhabitants of his town. To do this Jderescu develops his own logic as to prove whether or not a local rebellion had taken place. Dawn sets in a post-communist little town; one by one the streetlamps extinguish in this the opening scene of 12:08 East of Bucharest. The simple though sharp humour used by director Corneliu Porumboiu, turns 12.08 into a lightly digestible political complaint. At the same time it provides an insight into Romania ‘s socio-economical situation – and more – into the current situation of ex-Eastern bloc countries.

Ode To Joy (Oda Do Radosci) by Anna Kazejak-Dawid, Jan Komasa, Maciej Migas is a triptych of three stories. Three recently graduated directors present three accounts of post-communist Poland. The first story concerns the tale of Aga. Recently returned from England she is full of expectations about building a future in Poland . The second story is about Peras, a locally famed rapper with aspirations of becoming a professional artist were it not that his origin remaining an obstacle. In the last part we meet the young fisherman Wiktor. The daily grind, hard work and poverty in the village trouble Wiktor who sees only one escape to this hopeless situation: to flee to the West. Young Polish people’s flight to the West in search of a future can be considered the central theme of this mini trilogy. The directors paint a surprisingly accurate picture of the contemporary situation of young Polish people, never losing sight of the frustrations of this country for the lack of things it has to offer and revealing the poignant class differences that still exist in former communist countries.

And last but not least, Taxidermia was directed by György Pálfi. Also in three stories, it tells the tale of three generations of the same Hungarian family. The grandfather is a soldier during the Second World War desperately looking for love. His son is a top-flight athlete during the communist rule – success his only motive. The grandson is a taxidermist. Although he is a bit strange, he is a master of his trade with a quest for immortality. From the first scene you are aware you are not watching any ordinary film. The film is one hallucinating trip that reaches its climax in a closing scene that will astound you. But do not let this put you off because the unpleasantness turns to satisfaction. Are you already tempted? Be warned though – Taxidermia is not for sensitive viewers!