Young Heroes for Central and Eastern Europe By Viliam Jablnicky

in 4th Pécs

by Viliam Jablonický

The number of festivals bent on recognizing new tendencies, works and talent from Central and Eastern Europe is growing. The younger Moveast Nemzetkozi Filmfesztival — International Film Festival in Pécs, Hungary, however, has its own place amongst the older ones like Cottbus (Festival of East European Cinema in Germany), the Molodist, Kiev International Film and Festival and Wiesbaden (Festival of Central and Eastern European Film – goEast in Germany). In October 2008 Moveast celebrated its fourth edition as a continuation, not a “fourth beginning”. Its organizers continue to think of their work not “as difficult, but great!” and vouch to bring the happy “feeling of youth to town”, along with its maybe naïve but persistent search for novelty and penchant for challenging the status quo; its new “knowledge of the every day”, which is always universal and even eternal. True, said “feeling of youth” dominated the cinema theatres, clubs (screening experimental and short films), as well as the accompanying events of concerts, exhibitions and other cultural artifacts, imported from Central and Eastern Europe and featured in cultural houses, in streets and squares. In addition, the Mediawave Mobil Cinema offered the possibility for selective screenings of cartoons and of trailers, of DVDs and video films from the latest Hungarian Film Week. All festival-related events were concentrated in the historical part of city, which will be one of the Cultural Capitals of Europe in 2010.

Amongst the numerous city museums there were a number devoted to the visual arts like the Vasarely Museums, displaying the works of the famous Hungarian artist El Kazovszkij, who died just a few months before the opening of her exhibition, arranged in an attempt of her friends to answer metaphorically to her question whether “The Soul Flies Away?” The fascinating paintings by another Hungarian celebrity artist, Tidavar Csontváry Kosztka, showcased in his gallery of modern art, reflecting the bright colours of the place where he was born many years ago under the High Tatras mountains. From there, he went on to travel and work intensively all over Central and Eastern Europe, and beyond, in the Near and Far East, inspiring later the works of many a filmmaker, both young and mature. Alongside the museums of fine arts and the Kaniszay Dorottya Museum of national dresses and folk art of the Croats, Serbs and Slovenes of Hungary, the archive and the university library with its gigantic bibliotheca founded by Bishop Klomo in the 18th century, and the archaeological excavation (under the New Romanesque Dom Church) constituted an intense cultural contrast to the volatile youthful spirit and technological innovations, flaunted at the Moveast Filmfestival.

Presentations — on the role of digital technology in film and on technological innovations in film producing, on the present and future of HD editing, cameras and film studios — were a much needed supplement to lectures about the Balkan in the cinematic arts and the film critics’ workshop, organized at The House of Arts and Literature by Báron Gyorgy and the Magyar FIPRESCI section. A number of public discussions — with the prominent Hungarian film director, master Károly Makk, and with the cast and crew of each competition film, organized after the screening — were also a wise addition to the festival along with the rich series of concerts and music workshops about international blues, folk blues and underground, featuring famous and less famous young and older musicians.

A special Slovak Day was organized within the framework of the festival. Its highlights included a launch of a book about this middle European country; a concert of the jazz group Mango Molas; an exhibition of gastronomic specialities; the screening of Vlado Fischer’s film in competition Half Breakdown (Polcas rozpadu; 2007); and an opening of aphoto exhibition “Notes and Messages” on modern and classic fiction. And, as homage to the documentary film director Dusan Hanák, his “oldest” film I Love, You love (Ja milujem, ty miluješ; 1980) was screened, and the audience found its narrative and characters still surprisingly fresh and young. Indeed, after being banned for almost a decade by the Communist regime, upon its release in 1989 Hanák’s film was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Directing at the 1989 Berlinale.

Other major highlights included the screenings of such celebrated works as Two in One (Dva v odnom; 2007) by Kira Muratova, member of the main International Jury Moveast 2008, of 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (4 luni, 3 saptâmi si 2 zile)by Cristian Mungiu, The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher)by Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky and others. They created an inspirational framework of daringly modern filmmaking, enveloping nicely all twelve fiction films in competition, made in 2007 in Central and Eastern Europe by young directors as their first feature length work. The competition presented the film critics in attendance with the challenge to offer an inspired and in-depth interpretation of the films’ original and mostly innovative tendencies, pushing the limits of contemporary art cinema in both narrative and style.

After the festival, we will remember the names of the young directors and their works and will be looking forward with great interest and hope to their new films. Especially to the next work by the absolute winner in Pécs 2008, director Eva Neymann, whose film At the river (U reki;Ukraine, Odessa Film Studios 2007) was awarded the FIPRESCI prize (and two other main prizes) for the original metaphorical interpretation of the coexistence of generations and a stream of consciousness-like visual style. Many other competition films also provoked vivid discussions and debates amongst audiences, young and old, after the screenings: Rooster’s Breakfast (Petelinji zajtrk, Slovenia) by Marko Nabersnik; Reserve (Reserwat, Poland) — a modern version of Romeo and Julia by Lukasz Palkowski; Wednesday, Thursday Morning (Sroda, czwartek rano, also from Poland) by Grzegorz Pacek; The living and the Dead (Zivi i mrtvi) — a strong antiwar film from Croatia, directed by Kristijan Milic; Upside Down (Prevrteno, Macedonia) by Igor Ivanov Izy; Dolls (Pusinky, Czech Republic) by Karin Babinská; Huddersfield (Hadersfild, Serbia) by Ivan Zivkovic, Girls (Lányok, Hungary) by Faur Anna. And last but not least — The investigator (A nyomozó, Hungary) directed by Gigor Atilla.