Big screen brilliance from the Baltic to the Balkans
East by Southeast: Festival of Central and Eastern European Film
Cinemateket, Gothersgade 55, Cph K; starts Thu (Oct 24), ends Nov 7, screening times vary, see website for details; tickets: 65kr per film; www.cinemateket.dk
While thousands of Danish residents travel across the globe to distant locations like Thailand and Malaysia each year, far fewer make the trek across Europe to nearby nations like Estonia, Poland or Bulgaria. Here to help Danish audiences get to know their neighbours is the Danish Film Institute’s East by Southeast festival, celebrating works from central and eastern Europe and examining the current filmmaking landscape in the region.
According to Ewa Mazierska, a professor of contemporary cinema at the University of Central Lancashire, a special connection still exists between the old Eastern Bloc countries’ filmmaking industries over 20 years after the collapse of communism, due to their common history and shared experiences.
“Every year brings some new films on these topics made in different eastern European countries and they attract the attention of critics and ordinary viewers, willing to learn and come to terms with the darkest side of their postwar history,” Mazierska wrote on behalf of the Danish Film Institute.
“By and large, in the bulk of the films by eastern European directors their countries come across as places to escape from rather than to visit and enjoy,” she continued.
Mazierska also pointed to a range of specific genre conventions that set eastern European films apart from those of their mainstream peers.
“The pace of action is slower in them than in Hollywood films, characters are more important than plots, and not infrequently they include lengthy discussions about the meaning of life or at least love,” Mazierska went on.
This year’s East by Southeast festival will show 12 such films and offer a host of special events and director visits. The festival will kick off on Thursday October 24 with a screening of the Estonian black comedy Mushrooming, as well as an appearance from the film’s director, Toomas Hussar. A political satire that tells the story of a public official on a mushrooming trip with his wife, Mushrooming was selected as Estonia’s entry for the 2012 best foreign language Oscar.
East by Southeast will conclude on November 7 with the Serbian drama Circles, in which director Srdan Golubovic examines the emotional aftermath of war. Set in Bosnia in 1993, the film follows five people affected by the same tragic incident during the Yugoslav Wars and explores their coping mechanisms and ability to adapt in the years that follow. The Circles screening will also include a Q&A session with Golubovic.
All the films at East by Southeast will be shown in the original language with English subtitles. Check out InOut’s top picks for East by Southeast, and see the Danish Film Institute’s website for more screening details.
Sat Oct 26, 17:00; Sun Nov 3, 19:00
In this 2012 drama, the first fiction feature film from Croatian journalist and filmmaker Igor Mirkovic, two elderly yet young-at-heart lovers escape from their Zagreb nursing home and embark on a road trip to the Adriatic Sea. Night Boats won a top honour at the Bombay Film Festival for “providing a rich, cinematic expression of characters who come alive in a way so magnificently vibrant, you can’t wait to get old!”
Thu Oct 31, 16:45; Sun Nov 3, 16:30
A declining city population and a leader who takes matters into his own hands may sound like the stuff of recent news in Copenhagen, but instead it’s the plot of Slovakian documentary Matchmaking Mayor. In the dwindling village of Zemplinske Hamre, the mayor decides to play cupid and marry off the town’s 30-something bachelors and bachelorettes with a large-scale singles party. The film follows the city’s party preparations, including the mayor’s daily pep talks to the invited singles via a town-wide PA system.
Wed Oct 30, 16:45; Wed Nov 6, 16:30
In the Belarusian town of Zhlobin, the majority of the locals make a living by producing and selling plush toys to those passing through town on trains – but approaching a train with a toy in hand is against the law. This 2012 documentary portrays five such toymakers throughout their daily lives as they make toys, attempt to sell them, drink and make toys again.
Sun Oct 27, 16:45; Tue Nov 5, 18:30; tickets: 75kr with wine
Set in the Georgian capital of Tblisi in 1992, In Bloom follows childhood friends Natia and Eka, whose friendship shields them from turbulent family lives and a post-Soviet society on the brink of civil war. The film will be introduced at the Tuesday showing by Klaus Carsten Pedersen, the former director of the Danish Foreign Policy Society who has visited Georgia numerous times. The screening starts at 19:00, but guests are invited to enjoy a glass of wine in Cinemateket’s Asta Bar from 18:30.