The 7th annual South East European Film Festival, proud recipient of the prestigious grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will take place this year from May 3rd – 7th, at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, and UCLA.
Commonly known as SEE Fest, the festival presents films that explore religious, ethnic and cultural crossroads of South East Europe, from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey…
With over 30 features, documentaries, and shorts, the festival gives a precious glimpse into the Balkan region, its troubled history, and its cultural diversity.
On Saturday May 5th SEE Fest’s Business Conference “Connecting Hollywood and South East Europe” features a young and dynamic panel of American and European filmmakers discussing the difference between American and European story structure, themes, and narrative. Panelists include Endre Hules, American-Hungarian writer/director/actor (“The Maiden Danced to Death”); Claudio Faeh, Swiss-American director/producer (“Hollow Man 2”, “The Hole”) with new international project slated for production in Sarajevo; Nicholas Ferrall, documentary executive at Spitﬁre Pictures/Exclusive Media and the founder of By Osmosis TV; Huseyin Karabey, Turkish director/writer/producer (“My Marlon and Brando”; “Do not Forget me Istanbul”) and Matthew Mishory, writer/director (“Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman”; “Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean”) and co-founder of Iconoclastic Features. To attend, email@example.com .
Among the renowned organizations which now support the festival are California Arts Council and the Goethe-Institut, UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, ELMA European Languages and Movies in America, Turkish Airlines, Women in Film International Committee, Consulates General of Switzerland, Austria and Hungary, Eurochannel and Dish Network, UCLA Anderson Center for International Business Education and Research, and Syd and Jan M Silverman Foundation.
MAY 3 – 7
Goethe-Institut Los Angeles
THURSDAY, May 3
5 MINUTES EACH | 7:30 pm
Serbia/Canada, 2011, animation, 9’
Writer/Director/Producer: Vojin Vasović
Winner of 25 international awards and counting, this delightful short by young Serbian expat from Canada Vojin Vasovic is a metaphorical story about the constant struggle of artists to achieve recognition. Told as a cautionary tale about the quest for five minutes of fame, the film looks at the hermetic life of artists, locked in their own world of ideas, striving to create the epochal masterpiece. Humorous and witty, this animated exploration of the relation between art and the artist, creates a hyperbolical picture of an everyday artist, with a dollop of vanity. And the lure of fame is of course a path towards his doom…
HELLO! HOW ARE YOU? (Buna! Ce faci?) | 7:45 pm
Romania, 2011, romantic comedy, 105’; Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Alexandru Maftei
Producer: Antoni Sole, Maurizio Santarelli, Tudor Reu
Gabriel and Gabriela have been happily married for 20 years but the physical attraction is no longer there. Is this all life has to offer? After independently of one another they discover the same internet chat room and begin a secret romance online, they both fall in love … not knowing they have actually found each other. As things get more passionate and exciting, these two basically decent people struggle with a major guilt trip. Even more confused is their adolescent and sexually very active son Vladimir, when he finds out that his parents also have desires. One day an encounter of the virtual lovers becomes inevitable…
FRIDAY, May 4
GABRIEL | 4:00 pm
Croatia, 2011, documentary, 72’; North American Premiere
Director: Vlatka Vorkapić
Producer Magdalena Petrović, co-producer Vinko Brešan
Who is Gabriel and how does he fulfill the wishes of those who open their hearts? The movie explores the lives of seemingly disconnected people, ones who are unfamiliar to each other and even to themselves. From the nude performance artist covered in fish dotingly treated to a nail polish from her third husband (whom she met at a cemetery just like her first husband) to Chinese tourists inadvertently sightseeing the old brothels in Zagreb, Gabriel is about the possibilities of abundant hope and inevitabilities of desire.
Screening copy courtesy of the Croatian Audio-Visual Center.
PERSEVERANCE..SPIRIT..BREATH (Opstajanje..duh..dah) | 5:15 pm
Montenegro, 2011, documentary, 59’; North American Premiere
Director: Momir Matović
In a significant part of the present-day Montenegro the demands of a modern society are changing certain fundamental relations, transforming the face of traditional communities. Many villages and hamlets are slowly dying. In three elementary schools in remote areas three solitary students are spending their final year with one teacher each. Once these students leave there will be no new ones coming. Schools and centuries-old households and settements will disappear.
“A burden heavier than suffering is the future…” – Fyodor Dostoevski
BORA, BORA | 6:30 pm
Romania, 2011, short, 30’; West Coast Premiere
Writer/ Director: Bogdan Mirica
Producers: Andrei Boncea, Iuliana Tarnovetchi
A fisherman, caught in a drought and unable to fish, becomes unknowingly involved in criminal activities when he decides to grow crops for a foreigner.
TRANSYLVANIA GIRL (Fata din Transilvania) | 7:00 pm
Romania, 2011, short, 15’; North American Premiere
Writer/Director: Sabin Dorohoi
Producer: Dan Draghicescu and Crina Popescu
Somewhere in the heart of Transylvania, in remote villages, odd traditions are still present… In this beautifully shot short film from Romania, a young man traveling to Sibiu for a business meeting makes a wrong turn and sets off a surprising chain of events. Filmed entirely on location in Transylvania and starring Maia Morgenstern (“The Passion of the Christ” and “The Oak”), Andreea Vasile, and Orlando Petriceanu.
BALKAN MELODIE | 7:15 pm
Switzerland/Germany/Bulgaria, 2012, documentary, 90’; North American Premiere
Writer/ Director: Stefan Schwietert
Producer: Cornelia Seitler
Over 50 years ago, Marcel and Catherine Cellier traveled for the first time behind the Iron Curtain, where they collected the best music in Eastern Europe for years. Marcel Cellier assisted the Romanian pan flute virtuoso Gheorghe Zamfir and the legendary Bulgarian female vocal choir “Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares” in achieving world fame. The film traces the Celliers’ footsteps in Eastern Europe to meet up again with the protagonists from that time – and to discover new musical treasures.
CIGARETTES AND SONGS (Cigarety a pesničky) | 9:00 pm
Slovakia, 2010, documentary, 52’; U.S. Premiere
Director: Marek Šulík, Jana Kovalciková
Producer: Jana Belišová
In an evangelical church in Eastern Slovakia, Roma singers and Slovak musicians meet to perform and record an album of ancient Roma songs. While a gulf exists between the two communities, it is through the making of music and the discovery of their shared humanity that former “differences” erode. The Slovaks, previously unaccustomed to Roma, soon embrace their new friends in an inspiring film about the unifying and therapeutic power of music.
Screening copy courtesy of the Slovak Film Institute.
SATURDAY, May 5
10:30 am – 1:00 pm Business Conference
SHORTS PROGRAM | 2:30 pm
Germany, 2010, documentary, 26’; U.S. Premiere
Writer/Director: Milan Miletic
Producer: Michael Truckenbrodt, Milan Miletic
The film explores youth hooligan violence in Serbia, where indiscriminate and unpunished acts of brutality, including the savage murder of French football fan Brice Taton, lead to a culture of fear.
COLD SHOWER (Hidegzuhany)
Hungary, 2011, short, 13’; West Coast Premiere
Writer/Director: Orsi Nagypal
Producer: Karoly Feher
During a warm summer night, Robert, a naive 17 year old and Feri, the Roma member of the high school drama group, are forced to deal with prejudices that have existed longer than themselves. This short is based on director’s experiences during high school where she used to take part in the drama group. Its topic, the prejudice against the Roma, is unfortunately even more relevant today than it was 15 years ago.
SURVIVAL IN SARAJEVO
Austria, 2011, documentary, 15’
Writer/Director/Producer: Edward Serotta
During the Bosnian war (1992-1995), the Jewish community of Sarajevo refused to take sides, opened its own humanitarian aid agency inside the city’s synagogue, and was soon joined by their Muslim, Croat and Serbian friends. While outside of the besieged Bosnian capital, nationalist politicians swore these ethnic groups could not get along; here’s a group of people who never got the memo. An inspiring story of friendship and commitment.
The film is part of the CENTROPA Film Archive’s presentation at this year’s festival.
STREET SPECTACLES | 4:00 pm
Greece, 2011, documentary, 61’; North American Premiere
Writer/Director/Producer: Sotiris Kappos
In modern Greece, a different kind of theatre exists on the streets below the famous Acropolis and its historic theaters, with mime artists, acrobats, magicians, and puppeteers mingling with passersby. The immediacy of such setting, and responses from engaged to indifferent from the ‘audience’ lead the filmmaker to explore the reasons that make artists choose to perform in street ‘spectacles’ and ultimately to that most essential of artistic questions: Can I survive on my art?
DO NOT FORGET ME ISTANBUL (Unutma Beni Istanbul) | 5:00 pm
Turkey, 2011, feature, 118’; North American Premiere
Directors: Hany Abu-Assad, Stefan Arsenijević, Aida Begić, Josefina Markarian, Eric Nazarian, Stergios Niziris, Omar Shargawi
Artistic director and producer: Hüseyin Karabey
Several directors from countries of the region were invited to create stories taking place in and around the beautiful city of Istanbul, in the vein of “Paris, je t’aime” and “New York, I love you”. They come together to remind viewers that Istanbul’s history does not belong only to the people of Turkey.
FAITH, LOVE AND WHISKEY (Vjara, lubov i whisky) | 7:00 pm
Bulgaria, 2011, feature, 75’; Los Angeles Premiere
Directed by Kristina Nikolova
Producer: Georgi Nikolov
A young woman leaves her dream life in America to return home to Bulgaria to see her passionate and self-destructive ex-boyfriend. But when her American fiancé makes a surprise visit, she has to choose between a secure future and a doomed love. Faith, Love and Whiskey looks at the lost summer of an immigrant abroad now back home, capturing the abandonment of a summer vacation and the dilemma of love and a sense of place trapped between two homes.
SUNDAY, May 6
EMPTY BOXCARS | 1:00 pm
U.S.A., 2011, documentary, 54’
Director: Ed Gaffney
American director Ed Gaffney explores the history of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution” in South Eastern Europe and the Balkans, an area that has notoriously struggled with the terrible inheritance of regional ethnic chauvinism exploited for the sake of nationalism. Empty Boxcars sheds light on this little-explored chapter of the Holocaust when Bulgarian occupying forces in Thrace and Macedonia helped deport Jews to death camps, while at home leaders of the Orthodox church and several prominent politicians bravely led an unprecedented effort to save their Jewish neighbors.
SHORTS PROGRAM | 2:00 pm
A DAY ON THE RIVER DRINA (Jedan dan na Drini)
Bosnia Herzegovina, 2011, documentary, 17’; North American Premiere
Writer/Director: Ines Tanović
Producer: Alem Babić
August 2010: a peaceful summer day on the river Drina. But if you read carefully, a most unusual request in the newspapers: a call for volunteers to recover human remains in the artificial lake of Perućac. And so a gruesome story unravels about the discovery of more than 250 skeletons in the Perućac. Found during the repair of the hydroelectric power plant Bajina Bašta, these remains belonged mostly to Bosnians killed by members of the Serbian Army in Višegrad between 1992 and 1995. A compelling narrative of one day among many tragic days in the continuing legacy of the recent Balkan wars.
THE VISIT (Obisk)
Slovenia, 2010, short, 8’; North American Premiere
Writer/Director: Miha Mazzini
Producers: Frenk Celarc, Petra Vidmar
On an evening in a nursing home, a son’s visit to his father is fraught with tensions, revealing wounds old and new. The film packs a punch in 8 powerful minutes about father-son relationship in long-term care situation with a twist.
Bosnia Herzegovina/Turkey, 2011, 16’
Writer/Director: Cenk Ertürk
Producers: Izeta Gradević, Jovan Marjanović, Mirsad Purivatra
Mirsad’s father’s village is evacuated due to dam construction. The village will soon be under water. Mirsad arrives from the city intending to move his father’s remains from the old village cemetery to a grave in the new village’s graveyard.
MAYA | 3:00 pm
Albania, 2011, feature, 98’; West Coast Premiere
Director: Pluton Vasi
Producer: Vjollca Dedei
After years living abroad, Samiu returns to his Albanian village to bury his father. Initially welcomed home, events sour quickly when Samiu evicts the family living on his land and begins an affair with his cousin’s wife Maya. Deciding to stay in the village and open a hair salon, Samiu now must face the suspicions and gossip of the villagers and the added threat of the police chief, also obsessed with Maya. As events roil the village, Maya’s daughter Halisa faces her own troubles.
PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BELGRADE, WITH SINGING AND CRYING (Praktični vodič kroz Beograd, sa pevanjem i plakanjem) | 5:00 pm
Serbia/Germany/France/Hungary/Croatia, 2011, feature, 90’; North American Premiere
Director: Bojan Vuletić
Producers: Miroslav Mogorović, Oliver Roepke, Jean des Forets, Gabor Sipos, Ankica Jurić-Tilić
After many years of isolation Belgrade has opened again, ready to accept numerous tourists, businessmen and curious people from all over the world. What happens when foreigners and local people meet? Practical Guide to Belgrade with Singing and Crying is a contemporary romantic comedy about four couples from different nations who meet in Belgrade and experience the small impossibilities of big love.
BROKEN MUSSELS (Kirik midyeler) | 7:00 pm
Turkey/Sweden/Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2011, feature, 94’; U.S. Premiere
Director: Seyfettin Tokmak
Producers: Serkan Cakarer, Lizette Jonjić
Styled as a gritty drama about street urchins roaming the underbelly of Turkey’s capital and dreaming of going to Germany, Broken Mussels ventures into the slums of Istanbul. There are organ traffickers, sick immigrants hiding from the law, slum lords, and relentless competition between street peddlers, many of whom are children like the two main characters. Turf wars are a way of life in this closed world. The metaphorical mussels are stand-in for a hopeless dream, another mirage luring the boys into its empty embrace. Timid friendship with the orphaned Bosnian girl is one thing these kids have going in circumstances beyond any child’s power to change.
MONDAY, May 7 – James Bridges Theatre, UCLA
COFFEE FUTURES (Neyse Halim Çiksin Falim) | 7:00 pm
Turkey, 2010, documentary, 22’; Los Angeles Premiere
Writer/Director: Zeynep Devrim Gürsel
Producer: Umut Gürsel, Zeynep Devrim Gürsel
Coffee Futures blends the Turkish custom of coffee fortune-telling with the story of Turkey’s decades-long attempt to join the European Union, revealing the textures of a society whose fate has long been nationally and internationally debated. It investigates the collective psychology of anticipating an uncertain future – slowly simmered while Turkey waits.
FUTURE LASTS FOREVER (Gelecek Uzun Surer)
Turkey, 2011, feature, 108’; West Coast Premiere
Writer/Director: Özcan Alper
Producers: Ersin Celik, Soner Alper
Sumru is a university student at work on a comprehensive collection of Anatolian elegies. When she begins what she believes is a short journey to southeastern Turkey to search for her lover and add to her compilation, she meets Ahmet, a young street vendor selling bootleg movies. Her journey with Ahmet continues to the lands where conflict persists between Turks and Kurds. In the quest to record one elusive elegy, Sumru must confront a trauma from her own past. The exploration reveals the collective experience reflected in the lives of individuals and preserved through the memory of elegiac song.
9:00 pm Wrap party, Audience Award announced
FOR MY MOTHER (Për nënën time)
Albania, 2011, experimental short, 19’; U.S. Premiere
Writer/Director/Producer: Dritan Mesareja
A young man journeys to a strange land: his interior world. The milestones of his trip are familiar road signs: dreams, memories, and even the war-like halcyon state of nightmare, until the God-like power of his mother’s love separates him from the abyss to guide him home.
FAMILY CABARET (Porodični kabare)
Bosnia Herzegovina, 2012, short, 6’; U.S. Premiere
Writer/Director: Damir Basić
A school boy’s memories of fun times with his parents mix with an uncertain reality and provide a refuge for him when things at home don’t seem to go so well any more.
Cyprus, 2011, experimental short, 21’; World Premiere
Writer/Director: Denis Novojilov
Billed as “a masked musical”, this whimsical short shows an ensemble of young musicians as forest creatures. A novel and playful approach to music on film.
MADE OF ASHES (Od pepela)
Serbia, 2012, short, 17’; U.S. Premiere
Writer/Director: Ognjen Glavonić
Producers: Mladen Bulbuk, Jelena Đurić, Anja Jelić
On the tenth anniversary of democratic revolution in Serbia in which he participated as a student, Dejan is in a position to change something in his life. By deciding to take action, he may risk losing the security and comfort that passivity offers.
CENTROPA Film Archive
Vienna, Austria; centropa.org
Centropa is the internet name for Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation on Jewish memory in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Baltics. Since 2000, Centropa has interviewed more than 1,250 elderly Jews, never using video and instead collecting and digitizing thousands of family photos. We invite SEE Fest aficionados to explore this wonderful and searchable, keyworded online database ‘Jewish Witness to a European Century’.
Albania, 2011, short, 18’; U.S. Premiere
Writer/Director: Gentian Koci
It’s Christmas. Mr. Paskali is a retired general, widowed and living alone. Every day he waits for a phone call from his son who left the country, but the only person who calls him is the owner of Saint Peter’s funeral agency.
To find out more about the Festival and the Business Conference visit www.seefilmla.org