By Ioana Haratau
Edited by Mia Tuason
The Cineast Festival in Luxembourg is also referred to as the Central and Eastern European Film Festival. It is a film festival, held in October, which showcases all the new Eastern European productions of the year. The festival also offers several other events such as concerts and debates. Some lucky viewers may also meet the director of their movie who sometimes happens to be present. This year, there were several wonderful films, but these next movies were, in my opinion, the most compelling and exciting ones.
Grandpa Goes South directed by Vinci Vogue Anžlovar – Slovenian
This is a heartwarming comedy about two best friends who haven’t seen each other in years but who, nonetheless, decide to pack up and go on a road trip together. The main characters are two elderly musicians: one healthy but lonely, Vlado; the other suffering from cancer and longing for his lost love, Boris. Vlado knows that Boris doesn’t have much time, so he decides to take him on a road trip to say a final goodbye to Neda, Boris’s lost love. While escaping the hospital, they run over Esma, who is on the run after a failed mafia mission. She joins them and they embark on a funny adventure. The movie has easy dialogue and brilliant cinematography. It also encompasses Eastern European humor quite well.
R.M.N. directed by Cristian Mungiu – Romanian
This movie is a psychological thriller which the director has described as being a brain scan of the current political climate of Romania; more specifically of Transylvania, a region which has been under a consistent strain. The story follows a Roma-German Romanian as he returns from working abroad in Germany. He decides to become more involved in his son’s life as he begins to realize how much he has missed while away. He reconnects with his former Hungarian girlfriend, who is the head of a bread company which begins to face criticism and boycott after hiring Sri-Lankan workers in order to gain EU funding. This is all happening in a very tense and divided Transylvanian village. The director represents the dynamics in such a village with intense accuracy and the dialogue we follow is in Romanian, Hungarian and German. Furthermore, it is a great psychological thriller focusing on one man’s longing for control and power over his family and his fate, as he deals with extreme fear and distress. The movie ends in a brilliant cliffhanger which leaves the viewer astonished.
The Last Race directed by Tomáš Hodan – Czech
This is a brilliant drama focusing on the ski race of 1913 in which two famous skiers, Bohumil Hanč and Václav Vrbata, were found dead, frozen to death. This story is one that brings together sport and friendship, creating an atmosphere filled with emotivity and drama. This movie is based on a true story; a retelling of a real race which is often told differently by history. The director sets out to change how this story is told and wants to make sure that all the characters are included. The movie is wonderfully made and, although the ending is known to be tragic, the cinematography makes it seem even more so.
My Favourite War directed by Ilze Burkovska – Jacobsen – Latvian
This is an animated docuseries that follows the life of Ilze, a young Latvian girl living through the Cold War. This movie was included in the “Youth” part of the festival, aimed at younger audiences, as it is animated. There are several instances where we can see the director, whose story is actually being told. She decided to make this movie to document her life under Soviet rule in Latvia and the beginning of her discovery of Soviet propaganda. She recounts how she led the first years of her school life believing everything she was told and wanting desperately to defend and protect the state at all costs. Then as she begins to grow up, she realizes the amount of propaganda that surrounds the state and the amount of corruption. She decides she no longer aligns with this state that she has loved all her life and tries to come to terms with very difficult choices in this regard. This movie is very relevant and very important, especially during our current political climate. The Cold War is often overlooked and there are many young people who can benefit from understanding this very important time in Eastern European history.
Overall, this year’s festival was amazing and was filled with phenomenal movies which are worth watching even now, as the festival has ended. The festival will be happening again next year, so if you liked the selection this year, you should try to go next year as the movies will be just as great!