13 European directors explore the theme of Sarajevo and what this city represents in European history over the past hundred years, and what Sarajevo incarnates today in Europe. From ... See full summary »
A remote village in the North-West of Russia. A mental asylum is located in an old wooden house. The place and its inhabitants seem to be untouched by civilization. In this pristine setting... See full summary »
Nostalgia seems to be at fashion in Eastern Europe and maybe in Russia more than any other place. This collection of documentary clips from newsreels and documentary films of the 50s and 60s Soviet Union may be an opportunity to feed such feelings, and may be as well a window open to the reality of a time which slides back in history while continuing to influence the lives and reality of today.
One just needs to pay attention because the window is almost never open to the reality as it was, but rather presents life in the perspective deformed by propaganda and painted in the rosy colors and accompanied by triumphal music and the wooden language commentary of the time. Sure, there are some glimpses to the real lives of people, and these lives were not only grim, people coped with the situations, they learned, singed, worked, loved and many of them never knew anything else but communism and believed in the system. Yet, in the perspective of history some of the tragedies of the time make their place even beyond the smoke curtain of propaganda: a public process for a pair of retired people condemned for the crime of feeding their pig with bread (like there was anything else to feed animals with during these times) or an innocent report about the valiant actions of a local policeman in a place named Katyn. You just need to pay attention.
Another visible aspect is the cinematographic mastership of the makers of the epoch films. Excellent cinematography, beautiful takes, small pieces of art or poignant documentary sequences surface all the time reminding us that the Soviet cinema school was one of the best of the time, and one of the best in the history of the seventh art.
The choice made by director Sergei Loznitsa of not making any commentary is excellent in my opinion. Such strong images speak by themselves. They speak when they show reality, even if this reality was deformed or prefabricated for propaganda purposes. When watching people you seldom have the feeling that they are speaking truth. If fans of nostalgia should focus on something it should be maybe the faces and language of people. Then they should ask themselves if there is really that much to be nostalgic about.
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