The Micro Cosmos of the Family by Dinara Maglakelidze

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

by Dinara Maglakelidze

Family life, the interrelation between parents and children, the relation of couples to each other are permanent themes of films. At every stage families in any form of social relations, are seen as a micro cosmos of human relations. In the cinema, different forms have always been reflected, situations caused by changes of a family micro cosmos, social norms and relations. It should also be noted that while discussing recent films, we might even put a question — to what extent is it possible to film the traditional family, harmonious, so-called romantic couples.

In most cases, romantic, harmonious relations of couples are represented by modern cinema as utopian and impossible. A family micro cosmos of modern films basically concerns vital problems of unwed mothers or fathers. A family as a micro cosmos in modern cinema reflects the problems in a small family (mother, father, son or daughter). Such forms of a family micro cosmos were just presented at the Wiesbaden Film Festival in 2007.

A debut film Euphoria (Euforia, Russia 2007) of the Russian director Ivan Vypyraev describes a short romantic love affair. Everyday relations of inhabitants living on the Don steppes are determined by betrayal, craving for revenge and alcohol. In such circumstances passionate love between Vera and Pasa can only be short and tragic. An alcoholic, derelict husband Valeri will never give freedom to Vera, will not permit her to abandon the family and run away with Pasa. In the final scene of the film, at the bottom of the boat sailing on the Don, waves are seen over the bodies of the dead lovers.

A history of ruin of a small harmonious family is narrated in the film The Trap (Klopka, Serbia, Germany, Hungary 2007) by Serbian director Srdan Golubovic. A rift in the relations of a young Belgrade couple, Mladen and his wife, appears when they find out that the curing of their little son from a serious illness can be possible only by means of an operation that must be performed in Berlin. For the operation they have to get 30,000 Euros. Against a background of a crisis and difficulties of a young couple the film of Golubovich reflects the exact psychodrama of Serbian society. In this society there is no middle class, there is no place for Mladen and people like him, who have certain moral values. In this society the fate of Mladen and people like him is in the hands of rich people which in most cases, as in former socialist countries, became rich by means of lies and swindling. The desire to save his seriously ill son forces Mladen into a moral compromise. He commits murder, ruins the family’s happiness. This action determines Mladen’s fate.

Michal Rosa’s film What Sun Has Seen (Co Slonko Widzialo, Poland 2006) describes the history of three small families. A little boy, Sebastian, is living with his single father, regularly goes to the graveyard, where he thinks that his mother is buried, and supports himself by trading in the streets. A young single mother Marta is dreaming about a career as a singer. The elderly Iosef has to change his job very often and deceive his wife constantly. Every day the three protagonists, who meet one another several times, have to struggle against the lack of money and difficulties. At the end of the film all of them are able to get out of false illusions and lies and find their own selves.

A calm, though inwardly a very strained film Armin (Croatia, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2007) by Ognjen Svilicic is about traveling to Zagreb of a fourteen-year boy and his father and their coming closer to each other. They travel there to take part in an audition in Zagreb for a film by a German producer, but it turns out that the father is too old for the film. In spite of this, he tries his best to force the shooting team to see how skillfully his son plays the accordion. Finally, Armin and his father get an offer by the producer to make a documentary film about their life, but they decline the offer and return to their native village.

Agnes Kocsis’ debut film Fresh Air (Friss Levego, Hungary 2006) is about the everyday life of a teenager Angela and her mother Viola. Still young and sympathetic, Viola is working in a public lavatory. To suppress a terrible smell, she uses lots of different air fresheners. As soon as the mother comes home, Angela opens all the windows of the flat and the mother goes into the bathroom and rubs her body heartily until it becomes red. There is no communication between Viola and Angela. The girl, who is dreaming of being a clothes designer is ashamed of her mother’s job. She decides to escape to Italy, though this attempt fails. On returning home the girl finds out that her mother having been attacked at work by robbers is in hospital. Angela begins to take care of her mother.

In Kirill Serebrennikov’s eccentric and rhythmical black comedy Playing the Victim (Izobrazaja Zertvu, Russia 2006) the protagonist Valja is doing rather an unusual job. He is playing the role of a victim for the criminal department of the Moscow Police, i.e. he is helping the investigation by recording a criminal action on video. The eccentric, ironic and sympathetic Valja continues playing the role in his family and drives his mother and her lover, as well as his girlfriend to despair. He is frank only with his dead father who appears in his dream.

The famous European director Vera Chytilova’s film Pleasant Moments (Hezké chvilky bez záruky, Czech Republic 2006) focuses on absurd, ironic or tragic family relations of contemporary Prague. Patients of a young and charming psychologist Hanna are of different ages and social status. Hanna has to fight not only against their neurosis and eccentric actions, but against her dominant mother and a jealous husband as well.

Family, as a micro cosmos, was one of the most interesting themes, represented at goEast in 2007, which reveals how the middle and east European cinematographers are reflecting the problems of people and societies in a new reality.