Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2018 Southeast European Film Festival - Los Angeles

Of the films that recently played at the 2018 Southeast European Film Festival - Los Angeles, I was able to view and review the following:

Men Don't Cry (orig. Muškarci ne plaču) [IMDb] [CEu] [CSFD] (directed and cowritten by Alen Drljević [IMDb] [CEu] [CSFD] along with Zoran Solomun [IMDb] [CEu] [CSFD]), is a BOSNIAN, SLOVENIAN, CROATIAN and GERMAN fictionalized psychodrama, set in a hotel by a (former?) ski resort outside of Sarajevo, telling the story of a group of veterans from all sides of the 1990s Bosnian Conflict [wikip] who twenty years after war's end entered (or were entered...) into a therapy program to finally confront the psychological scars that the war had left on each of them.

And yes, all "tough" men, all from a part of the world that values "toughness," and then certainly further _hardened by life_ and especially said War many initially question their being there, and one even leaves.  Yet the Slovenian psychologist (played by Sebastian Cavazza [IMDb] [CEu] [CSFD]) tells the men: "You are here because as awful as the War that you experienced twenty years ago, that was indeed _twenty years ago_, and you haven't been able to truly return from the war.  Your loved ones would like you to finally come home again."  

The rest of the story follows, with some truly heartrending stories being told, stories that really do not flinch from the horror that the War, one which included of course, Massacres / "Ethnic Cleansing," and told from the perspectives of victims, perpetrators and even simple (if-not-for-would-otherwise-be) bystanders.

Any veteran of any war would completely understand this film.  Further, I may in fact use this film in the future as part of a Men's Retreat on Reconciliation, because no matter what demons we may carry, the folks in this film carried ones big enough to open-up just about any heart.  A simply outstanding if at times hair-raising film -- 4+ Stars

The Miner (orig. Rudar) [2017] [IMDb] [CEu] [CSFD] (written and directed by Hanna Antonina Wojcik Slak [IMDb] [CEu] [CSFD]) is a SLOVENIAN / GERMAN historical drama tells the story of Alija a random Bosnian-born (Muslim...) Slovenian miner (played by Leon Lućev [IMDb] [CEu] [CSFD]) who just as the world was focused on excavations of the mass graves of Bosnian Muslims shot (by Serbs) outside of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, was sent by his boss to investigate a long closed mine-shaft at the outskirts of the mine -- somewhere near the Italian, Austrian, Slovenian, Croatian border (Slovenia is small...) -- at which he worked, and discovers ... a mass grave there from the 1940s.  Who were the victims?  And did anybody want to know?   Indeed, it becomes pretty clear that _everybody_ from his boss, to the (Slovenian) authorities, to his own wife wanted him to just shut-up / keep quiet about what he had found.  "Based on true events" ... based on true events indeed (the 20th century history of former Yugoslavia runs like an almost unending horror).  Excellent / very sad film - 4 Stars.

Comic Sans [2018] [IMDb] [CEu] (directed and cowritten by Nevio Marasović [IMDb] [CEu] along with Rakan Rushaidat [IMDb] and Janko Popović Volarić [IMDb]) is a CROATIAN (romantic?) comedy of sorts about Alan (played by Janko Popović Volarić [IMDb] [CEu]), a late 30-something / 40-something Zagreb-based commercial artist (a Croatian Ad-man) who having lived a hard-drinking / cocaine infused "dulce vita" for ... way, way too long ... was discovering that pretty much every woman that he ever was interested in (or had been interested in him) had, well, ... "moved on" ;-). 

So what we witness is a veritable _parade_ of often quite funny / painful "definitely approaching middle age" rejections at the hands of exasperated women who in different ways but repeatedly tell him: "Look you never wanted to grow up, well ... what did you really expect?"  Even his mother tells him essentially: "I told you so" ;-).  But at least he comes to understand his more "traditionally bohemian" artist dad Bruno (played by Zlatko Burić [IMDb]) who he had previously looked-down-upon as a loser / neerdowell.  Okay, at least Alan had a (high paying) job, but ... there appears to be more than one dimension to ... "being responsible" ;-) -- 3 1/2 Stars

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