Gypsy kings, moustachioed women and a ruthless gynaecologist are among the colourful characters portrayed in an impressive roll-call of contemporary Balkan films to be screened at London’s Raindance Film Festival 2012.
The cream of Balkan cinema from the past year will be brought to London as part of the international film festival’s annual showcase of the best of independent filmmaking. As befits any Balkan film list, there is also a rose-tinted story of life in the former Yugoslavia.
Almost all of these films will be receiving their UK premiere, while many have been lauded in their home territories and at prestigious festivals, such as Pula. While films come from various countries across the wider region, Slovenia is especially well represented in this year’s selection. Unusually, Bosnia does not have one entry.
The reason for this is quite simple, said Raindance team boss Orestes Kouzof: “We have had exceptional entries from Slovenia this year… and not many from Bosnia.”
Raindance Showcases Balkan Cinema in London
An international panel, lead by Raindance Film Festival director of programming Suzanne Ballantyne, had the headache-inducing job of sifting through more than four thousand submissions for this year’s twentieth anniversary London festival. The selected films are split into ‘strands’, which this year showcase features and shorts from Mexico, Quebec and the Balkans, alongside the festival’s usual European strand, ‘Days in Europa’
“We usually screen lots of films from the Balkans, as there’s a huge amount of film talent coming out of there, and many people in the UK would not necessarily be aware of it,’ said Orestes. “We are intent on promoting independent film-making around the world, so what better way than to bring fantastic Balkan cinema to the heart of London.”
As Europe’s leading independent film festival, Raindance is said to be ‘unmissable’ by film industry bible Variety. A programme of events will run alongside the festival screenings, with workshops and live performances, as well as some interesting Q&A session. Unfortunately, no such events have been planned around these Balkan entries.
So great is its influence that the winner of the ‘Film of the Festival’ award in the shorts category will be automatically shortlisted for the 2013 Short Film Oscar nominations.
The Balkans Comes to Piccadilly
The Balkan films to be screened at the Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly Circus, as part of Raindance 2012 are:
A Night Too Young (Priliš mlada noc)
directed by Olmo Omerzu. Czech Republic / Slovenia
UK Premiere. Two boys find themselves in the flat of a young girl, Katerina (Natalie Rehorova) and her two male friends, Stepan (Jirí Cerný) and David (Martin Pechlát). After much vodka and cigarettes, the boys sit on the sidelines and watch their first encounter with sex. Olmo Omerzu, director and co-writer of this featurette, builds the tension with a captivating feat of storytelling
– Wednesday 2 October: 20:15
– Thursday 4 October: 12:45
Good Night, Missy (Lahko noč, gospodična)
directed by Metod Pevec. Slovenia
UK Premiere. Hannah (Polona Juh) and Sam (Jernej Sugman) are young. They have a house, a wonderful daughter and well-paid work. He is successful and the decision maker, while she is a hypersensitive dreamer. However, their comfortable routine starts to crack because of lies, jealousy and mistrust. Good Night, Missy is a beautifully shot and touching film of heartbreak and the little things that bring a smile to your face.
– Thursday 4 October: 13:15
– Saturday 6 October: 20:30
Loveless Zoritsa (Crna Zorica)
directed by Radoslav Pavkovic, Christina Hadjicharalambous. Serbia/Poland/Cyprus/Greece
International Premiere. Her name is Zoritsa, but the villagers call her ‘the kiss of death’. Zoritsa was born fresh-faced into a family blighted by women with excessive facial hair, but is she cursed? Maybe she is also a serial killer. Whatever the truth, the villagers are going to find out. Set in a Balkan village where superstition still rules, the co-directors present their feature debut as a black fairytale with plenty of comedy moments.
– Friday 28 September: 17:45
– Monday 1 October: 15:15
directed by Bojan Vuletic. Serbia/Germany/France
UK Premiere. A contemporary romantic comedy about the trials of finding the right person, told through four love stories. A series of characters collide, resulting in passionate, angry and often humorous affairs. With performances including the talented young actor Marko Janketic, this is a comic and emotionally charged love story to the people of Belgrade.
– Saturday 6 October: 18:15
directed by Marko Naberšnik. Slovenia
UK Premiere. A love story about four generations, narrated by Lutvija Belmondo Mirga, a gypsy king, who established his own village named ‘Shanghai’. After the downfall of Yugoslavia, business goes bad for Belmondo, who must decide whether he will protect his own family or sacrifice personal happiness for business ambitions.
– Tuesday 2 October: 20:00
directed by Nemanja Becanovi. Montenegro/Slovenia
UK Premiere. Jovan struggles to finish his first novel, removing to his friend’s country estate in order to write in peace. But there lives a strange and isolated family. Zeko (Vlado Jovanovski), head of the family, is the authority figure whose word and unique world-view cannot be challenged. Jovan slowly gets used to life with them and decides to stay a little longer. As this unsettling thriller unfolds, we see that it is not up to him how long he will stay.
– Sunday 30 September: 20:45
– Wednesday 3 October: 15:15
directed by Andrej Kosak. Slovenia
It is 1986 in Communist Yugoslavia, and socialist worker Peter (Martin Marion) falls into a shock-induced catatonic state after winning ‘Worker of the Year’ award in his local collective. Ten years later, he awakens to a radically different world, where everything he once knew is now history. Together with his wife Marica (Urska Hlebec), Peter must navigate this strange new world.
– Friday 28 September: 15:30
– Sunday 30 September: 17:45
directed by Branko Schmidt. Croatia
UK Premiere. Thought-provoking to the point of shocking, Vegetarian Cannibal is a riveting character study of Danko Babić, a ruthlessly amoral gynaecologist at a top Croatian fertility clinic, who is being aided by a society that prefers not to look too closely. Babić is so ruthlessly ambitious that he will not let anything stand in his way. Vegetarian Cannibal won five awards at Croatia’s Pula Film Festival, including Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Director.
– Saturday 29 September: 13:00
– Sunday 6 October: 21:00
To book tickets for any of these screenings, book online or call 08712 240 242.