Voices of Young Creators on the Screen

in 24th Warsaw Film Festival

by Olga Markova

The artistic engagement of young film directors with significant problems of our times is an important barometer of the spiritual health of humanity. In this line of thought, most entries of the FIPRESCI selection (11 first features) at the 24th Warsaw Film Festival could be considered as encouraging signs for the future of the seventh art.

I respect this traditional docu-dramatic authenticity, which makes a narrative structure seem to have sprung from life itself, as does Tulpan (“Un Certain Regard” Award in this year’s Cannes Festival). No camera effects, no special visual emphasis, no extraordinary soundtrack, no unusual technical pirouettes. And, at the same time, the atmosphere, built-up from an abundance of inimitable small details, is strikingly original, throwing all the characters (humans as well as animals) into a high dramatic relief!

It is obvious that the young Russian director Sergei Dvortsevoy, born in Kazakhstan and auteur of four excellent documentaries, is a good, patient and very delicate observer of the nomadic life in the Kazakh steppe. And, like in real life, his subtle humour bridges good and bad, hope and despair, joy and sorrow… Thus the time-honoured message of the film becomes clear and universal, and easy to grasp by everyone and everywhere for, in the time of globalization, the appeal of the local ways of life are crucially important for the preservation of our roots and identities. In a similar docu-dramatic vein, the young Bosnian filmmaker Aida Begic paints a collective portrait of the inhabitants of Slavno (“Glory” in Bosnian) on the back-drop of their war-ravaged and isolated village Snow (Snijeg). By focusing on the existential dilemma whether they should accept an offer that could save their lives, but destroy their souls, in her deeply humanistic message the director foregrounds the power of hope, coded in the symbolic refrain of snow falling not to cover the hills, but for every beast to leave a trail.

The power of hope also informs Love and Other Crimes (Ljubav i drugi zlocini) by the Belgrade-based director Stefan Arsenijevic, structured around the existential question “What would happen if you fell in love on the same day you wanted to leave everything behind?” and mixing elements of criminal and romantic drama with a touch of magical realism.

The most bizarre film for me and the Warsaw viewers was The Investigator (A nyomozó), both in narrative (an investigation carried out by the murderer himself) and stylistic terms (a black comedy half way through, and a detective thriller in the second part). It is clear that the young Hungarian director Attila Gigor has an intelligent sense of abstract humour and a good knowledge of cinema history, which mark out his first feature as a promising film by a promising director.

Most young filmmakers are focusing on sensitive and concrete social issues. For example, the Russian film Nirvana by Igor Voloshin displays the catastrophic consequences of drug addiction in the criminal underworld of St. Petersburg. L… Like Love (L… kot ljubezen) by the Slovenian female director Janja Glogovac discusses another subject, especially painful for the Balkan region – that of emigration, which is also tackled in Love and Other Crimes. For me, it is very important that nascent first-time directors are not only experimenting and recycling old subjects and stylistic approaches, but are mostly searching for and reflecting on social and existential problems of the world they live in.