Saturday, 8 August 2009

MIFF : Balkan Experience

This year’s Festival dedicated a section to Balkan Cinema. Unshackled from years of Communism, film makers are expressing a love for their homeland which laments the recent past often accompanied with great humour and irony. Accompanied by Uncle J, we took in two films : Silent Wedding and Zift.
Silent Wedding is an affectionate and funny look back at life before the Communists invaded in rural Romania. The Villagers have their rivalries but all can be forgiven at the local tavern. When Mara and Iancu announced that they’re getting married, the whole village turns out to celebrate. The problem comes when it is announced that the whole country must go into enforced mourning for Stalin’s death. The wedding goes ahead anyway in silence with the larger than life characters and good humour continuing. The tragedy at the end of the film reinforces what was lost. The modern day is portrayed as bleak and dour (and its raining) – the past highlighted by sunshine, vivid colour and a lust for life.
Zift from Bulgaria, hits all the elements of a modern film noir that (I think) is telling us a tall story. The black and white photography is clean and strong (although the white subtitles sometimes hard to read); Ada, a very saucy and fatal femme; the missing diamond, valuable; lead man Moth is tall, strong, handsome and ultimately undone by his loving heart. ‘Zift’ is the word for resin used for sealing roads, or a chewing gum; it is also a slang word for ‘shit’. As in Silent Wedding there is a lot of black-humour although perhaps it would be more accurate to call it (poo) brown-humour. I enjoyed it although Uncle J felt it all amounted to nothing. An illustration of life perhaps? You will have to make up your own mind.

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