Cream of the European Cinema

10/09/2010 09:03


The fifth edition of the International Film Festival Cinematik was commenced yesterday in the House of Arts in Piešťany. The festival was opened by a new motion picture by Jan Svěrák, Kuky se vrací, an unconventional combination of feature action and animation. Over 100 movies carefully divided into 13 categories (2 competitive and 11 non-competitive) will be shown over 7 days. Many of the films exclusively chosen for this year’s screening in Piešťany have been awarded prestigious prizes and become highlights of other international film festivals. One of such highlights will undoubtedly be the American drama Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire. It is an emotionally draining story of an overweight, illiterate teen living in Harlem who has been raped and impregnated by her father and is now pregnant with her second child.

The festival itself will be precious as many films that haven't been and will probably never be distributed into Slovak cinemas will be screened here (Amer, Lourdes, Fantastic Mr. Fox). Apart from the fantastic film program, some of the precious directors have promised to delight the Slovak viewers with their introductory words before the screening of their work (Jaro Vojtek - Hranica, Peter Beganyi - Erotic Nation and some others). The fans will have an opportunity to meet the directors personally and ask questions to satisfy their curiosity. Apart from the film screenings, the rich 7-day program includes concerts, exhibitions, lectures and seminars. Last year the festival attracted altogether 14,000 film-goers.


What will Cinematik bring this year? The Film Hell section—a non-traditional category, the only of its kind in Slovakia—is dedicated to the dark side of the history of world cinematography. It will present a unique trio of the best of the worst films ever made under the patronage of Ed Wood, notoriously known as the worst filmmaker with an ever increasing number of “talented” successors. So what can we expect? Films with narrative structures abounding with “devastating film deficits,” such as a weak screenplay, poor acting or impossible editing. These film flaws are so awkward that they become, often unwittingly, the most memorable assets of the movies. The organizers warn: this section is only for perceptive cineastes with a good sense of humor who can understand real (non)art.


Kooky When asthmatic, six-year-old Ondra is forced to throw away his scruffy, sawdust-stuffed old teddy bear, Kooky, he prays for the safe return of his furry friend. Soon afterwards, across town, Kooky is about to be crushed in a rubbish dump when he suddenly comes to life, making his escape into a mysterious forest…


The Saturday all-night screening marathon entitled NEO NOIR NIGHT will be dedicated to neo noir films including the groundbreaking Who framed Roger Rabbit by Robert Zemeckis or The Last Seduction dominated by an extremely dangerous femme fatale. For those less acquainted with this genre, film noir  is a cinematic term used to describe highly stylized Hollywood crime dramas. Film noir will strike the first-time viewers by its visual techniques of lighting. Dark streets, scarcely illuminated passageways, street signs reflected on wet tar roads, or flashing low-wattage street lamps. The stock characters of the film noir include a cynical male burdened by his ominous past and a seductive femme fatale manipulating him into committing crimes of passions who, using her feminine wiles, often brings them both to a tragic end. Film noir originated in the US during the time of Depression and reflected the burning issues of that era, such as alienation in the modern world or sexual manipulation. Today many filmmakers pay tribute to film noir using its stylistic, narrative, and thematic techniques creating neo noir films. Those shown in this category use noir techniques in a modernized form, they are set in contemporary settings and deal with current themes.

The main competitive section entitled the Meeting Point Europe will screen 8 excellent films. This particular collection was selected by a vote of a panel of young film critics from 16 European countries. Let’s mention at least Michael Haneke’s latest film The White Ribbon taking a piercing look into a protestant village in Northern Germany. Strange events happening on the eve of World War I seem to be a ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers are at the heart of this mystery. Nominated for 2 Oscars, it has won 17 prizes, including a Golden Palm and FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, and in 2009 it became the film of the year at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

The film marathon has started. Take a seat and watch the screen become alive.

A review of one of the screened films soon to appear here!


Zuzana Starovecká