With Berlinale opening yesterday, we compiled a list of some New East films to look forward to this year.
Gospod Postoi, Imeto i’ e Petrunija
dir. Teona Strugar Mitevska
Macedonia / Belgium / Slovenia / Croatia / France
‘Tell them you’re 24’, advises Petrunya’s mother as her daughter heads off to another interview. But Petrunya is 31; moreover, she has studied history, a subject that no one in Macedonia seems to need. So there she sits in front of her potential employer, a factory owner, who looks down on her floral dress and refuses to take her seriously. On her way home – naturally, she did not get the job – Petrunya decides to take the plunge. It is Epiphany and, like every year, the young men of the city are diving for the holy cross that the priest has thrown into the icy river. This time, Petrunya is quicker than everyone else and ends up holding the trophy aloft for the TV cameras. For one whole day and one night, she will defend the cross, accompanied by much public commotion and against the closed ranks of the male world.
Teona Strugar Mitevska delivers an angry yet melancholic satire that questions the status of democratic change in Macedonian society and passes scathing judgement on representatives of the church, the judiciary and the media. The film’s sympathies are all with the determined woman who asserts herself against archaic traditions and paralysing opportunism.
The film will screen In Competition between 8 and 17 February.
dir. Alexander Gorchilin
Stark naked, Vanya jumps to his death off a balcony. ‘If you want to jump, jump,’ Pete had told him. Before: a flooded apartment, a toilet in the middle of the room, paranoia. Moby’s ‘Why does my heart feel so bad?’ on in the background. Kislota (Acid), the stylish directorial debut of 26-year-old Russian actor Alexander Gorchilin, begins like a trip and breathlessly continues: Vanya’s funeral is followed by clubbing, drugs and the artist Vasilisk, who asks Sasha if he can photograph his circumcised penis. He may. Sasha becomes the focus of the film. The acid of the title first comes into play in the artist’s studio when Vasilisk dissolves his father’s sculptures in it. Life is not bad in today’s Russia for the young, fatherless men at the centre of the film. They look good, but their lives have no sense of direction. The bottle of acid remains in the room the next morning. It will continue to play a role in the story.
Gorchilin finds powerful images for his depiction of a youth that seem to be losing their grip on life. And neither the cream-coloured interiors of their bourgeois homes, nor rhythmic gymnastics or even the church seem to offer them anything to hold on to.
Kislota will screen at Berlinale’s Panorama section between 8 and 17 February.
dir. Marius Olteanu
Dana returns to Bucharest but decides not to go home. She pays the taxi driver for the whole night. At the same time, Andrei goes to the gym and afterwards has sex with a man. The next morning, Dana and Andrei meet in their marital bed and spend the day together. Perhaps for the last time.
A relationship drama in three chapters that describes the current state of a couple over 24 hours. It is not about psychology but rather capturing moods and atmosphere. Even if the conversation between Dana and the taxi driver is hardly in-depth, everything is said. Dana’s loneliness is palpable when she turns off her phone after talking to Andrei, who for his part seems strangely lost in the apartment of the man he meets for sex. The nocturnal chapters are shot in the 1:1 format and focus on a man and a woman lost in introspection. In the morning, the frame opens out and the two must ask themselves whether there is still room for feelings. What happened? Why can they no longer give each other support despite their shared intimacy and affection?
Monștri will be shown as part of the Forum section between 9 and 17 February
dir. Agnieszka Holland
Poland / United Kingdom / Ukraine 2019
In March 1933, Welsh journalist Gareth Jones takes a train from Moscow to Kharkov in the Ukraine. He disembarks at a small station and sets off on foot on a journey through the country where he experiences at first hand the horrors of a famine. Everywhere there are dead people, and everywhere he goes he meets henchmen of the Soviet secret service who are determined to prevent news about the catastrophe from getting out to the general public. Stalin’s forced collectivisation of agriculture has resulted in misery and ruin; the policy is tantamount to mass murder. Supported by Ada Brooks, a New York Times reporter, Jones succeeds in spreading the shocking news in the West, thereby putting his powerful rival, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, pro-Stalin journalist Walter Duranty, firmly in his place.
Shot in Poland, Scotland and in original locations in the Ukraine, Agnieszka Holland’s film recalls the legendary journalist Gareth Jones (1905-1935) who, despite fierce resistance, could not be dissuaded from telling the truth. Jones’s encounter with the young George Orwell is said to have inspired the latter’s dystopian parable ‘Animal Farm’ (1945).
The film will be shown as part of the In Competition section between 10 and 17 February.
dir. Miroslav Terzić
Serbia / Slovenia / Croatia / Bosnia and Herzegovina 2019
When seamstress Ana places a cake on the kitchen table, her adolescent daughter Ivana just shakes her head and turns away. Her husband Jovan also wants her to drop the subject. With this gesture, Ana celebrates the birthday of her son who, according to the hospital, died immediately after he was born. He would be 20 years old now. Ana shares the fate with many other Serbian women and believes she had her newborn child stolen from her so the infant could be given up for illegal adoption for money. A new clue gives Ana reason to hope again.
A few years ago, an outrageous scandal came to light in Serbia; a scandal whose resolution is still ongoing because the authorities continue to stonewall the investigation. In thousands of cases of systematic child theft over several decades, hospitals are said to have sold newborn babies with the help of a clandestine network of doctors, undertakers and government employees, and informed the parents that their child had died. Featuring an expressive performance from the female lead and a moving screenplay, Miroslav Terzić’s film carefully unfolds a story of loss and hope.
Šavovi will screen at Berlinale’s Panorama section between 11 and 15 February.
Source & Original Text: https://www.berlinale.de