Southeast European Film Festival, Los Angeles opens today and continues until Monday May 7th. With over 30 features, documentaries, and shorts, the festival gives a precious glimpse into the Balkan region, its troubled history, and its cultural diversity.
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.
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…
Alissa Simon of Variety notes that the film is the “antithesis of the grim naturalism of the best-known new Romanian cinema” and “feels like a breath of fresh air, proving that even more commercial films can deliver emotional epiphanies”.
The screening is made possible with the support of Stefania Magidson.
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.
This screening is sponsored by the Consulate General of Switzerland.
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.