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The Network - 03/05/2005


Network cinemas in Paris are engaged for films 'from the East'


The Cinéma des Cinéastes, Le Latina and Les 3 Luxembourg cinemas give pride of place to rarely shown films from this sector.


In chronological order, the first to take place was the Baltyk-o-Balkan festival, at Cinéma des cinéastes, which showed films from several of those cinematographies which distributors struggle to find outside their country of origin. In 2004, the first festival opened with the Estonian feature-length film Somnambulance (2003), by Sulev Keedus, to which the jury awarded the prize for best film. The second 'East European film festival', from 19 to 26 April this year, offered 6 recent competing films and four classic feature-length films, as well as a programme of Estonian animated films. Programmers had opened the selection up to Turkish films and thus Yesim Ustaoglu's Waiting for the Clouds (2004) opened this week's festival which also saw two films being given ex-aequo awards: Dealer (2004, Hungary) by Benedek Fliegauf and 66 Seasons (2003, Slovakia), a documentary by Péter Kerekes. As far as we know, these two films have not been distributed outside Hungary and Slovakia. Which is a shame, since they each represent a strong offering from different genres, in tune with their environment. On the one hand, Dealer, comprising long sequence shots, follows an enigmatic drug dealer through a day during which he meets several people. Were the film to receive sufficient exposure, no doubt it would be welcomed enthusiastically by a wide audience. At the other end of the creative spectrum, 66 Seasons (shown in Karlovy Vary in 2003) offers nothing less than an evocation of 66 years in the Slovakian town of Kosice, contenting itself with listening to the words of the regular visitors to the municipal swimming pool, three summers running. And it manages it! Thanks to some clever producing and the complicity of several strong old characters who agreed, for example, to replay scenes from their past glory alongside languid youth, it sees the unwinding of a whole history of a central European and Eastern city, from World War II to the peace of today, including the Russian invasion in 1968. 
Classic films shown included, notably, Hi Tessa (Czesc Tereska, 2001, Poland), by Robert Glinski (who was already being billed in 2004, at the festival Nowa Polska, a Polish Season in France), Reconstruction (Reconstituirea,1969, Romania), by Lucian Pintilie and That Cat (Az prijde kocour, 1963, Czechoslovakia), by Vojtech Jasny.
This latter film is to be shown once again at Cinéma des cinéastes in May, as the cinema is to show a vast retrospective of Czech new wave films from the 1960s.

Reconstruction is once again being billed at a network cinema this week. Le Latina and the ARTROUMAIN association are, from 26 April to 3 May, showing a vast panorama from contemporary Romanian cinema. If the film is being shown in homage to Lucian Pintilie, whose film Niki and Flo (2003), his last feature-length film, will also be shown, scheduling will particularly give recent films their due, with 9 feature-length films and 3 documentaries produced after 2001. A sign that perhaps a new generation of Romanian directors is being spawned, a selection of high-flying short films is also being shown (on DVD), all of which have been on the international circuit for the last two years and which have received many awards: The Apartment (2004) by Constantin Popescu, Trafic (2004), by Catalin Mitulescu, winner of the Palme d'Or for Short Films in Cannes in 2004, Green Oaks (2003), by Ruxandra Zenide, Humanitarian Aid (2001), by Hanno Höfer, Cigarettes and Coffee (2003), de Cristi Puiu, Gold winner of the Berlin Bear for short films in Berlin in 2004, and Liviu's Dream (2003), by Cornel Porumboiu, who won a prize at Cinéfondation in Cannes 2004 for A Trip to the City.

Finally, next week, it will be the turn of Hungarian cinema, at Les 3 Luxembourg cinema. From 4 to 10 May, and the Hungarian Institute in Paris will be putting on a Hungarian Film Week with 9 films and 9 shorts. This will offer us a summary of recent Hungarian production, along with the opportunity to discover some little-seen and yet often awarded films at a time when, in the image of Hukkle (2002, György Pálfi), which was distributed particularly in Germany, Austria, France, the Czech republic and Israel, modern Hungarian cinematography is full of original ideas which deserve to become well known.

Jb Selliez, Mai 2005

Picture : 66 Seasons