Saturday, 2 May 2009

New Europe Film Festival

A quick note about the New Europe Film Festival which runs at the Barbican from May 4th to 6th: six films from new EU member states, concentrating on 20-30 year-olds whose lives crossed from socialism into capitalism.

The Polish contribution is Andrzej Jakimowski's second feature Tricks (Sztuczki), a gently touching story of how two children maintain hope in the face of family breakdown.

In Vladimir Michálek's Of Parents and Children (O rodicích a detech) a father and son take their monthly walk around the back streets of Prague, revisiting and coming to terms with past wounds.

Overnight from Hungarian director Ferenc Török follows 24 hours in the hectic life of Peter a broker who is soon to be a father but faces a collapsing love life.

Estonia and Finland collaborated to produce René Vilbre's I Was Here (Mina Olin Siin), a violent, fast-paced story about Rass, who tries to balance his aspirations to be a doctor with his part-time petty crime and drug pushing.

Music (Musika) is another co-production - this time Germany and Slovakia. Living in a cramped flat, part-time jazz saxophonist Martin has to practice at the water plant where he works. But his life changes when he meets Hruskovic, a more dynamic musician, and the nymphomaniac Anca, and they decide to form a band.

Though we do get to hear the 'title song', Cristian Nemescu's Cannes and LFF award-winning California Dreamin' is called, in Romanian, Nesfarsit, literally endless. Since Nemescu died before making the last tweaks to the edit, in tribute, it was released just as he had left it, and in that sense is endless. But more bleakly it reflects on NATO and the west's interventions in the Balkans, the ongoing collaborations and misunderstandings between the two and the sometimes less than enlightened views of the locals.

Altogether the fest gives a capsule view of the struggles of a generation coming to terms with a completely new world.

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