- In Retrospect
LET'S CEE Curators Arash and Arman Riahi:
In times when we are facing worldwide socio-political change, increasing radicalisation and subtle erosion of human rights by invisible apparatuses of power, civil society is more of a theme for international theme makers than ever before. This also applies to the short film genre which is reduced to the most essential points due to its time restrictions, but still enables an often more independent and spontaneous examination of the medium.
Of course, modern Central and Eastern European film does not only deal with the current threats to civil society. Another important theme for many directors are the scars left by past conflicts, as seen in the competition entries The Return (Blerta Zeqiri, Kosovo) and Shkurta (Arzana Kraja, Kosovo), or in the moving film Home (Russia) by Ruslan Magomadow, who tells the story of a man in war-torn Grozny who has nothing left but his home.
The question is whether civil society will allow to be pushed back into its very own – transl ucent – four walls, or whether it has an answer for the problems in this world, whether it is ready to fight for more than the own benefit. One citizen might not make a society cap able of acting, but history has shown many times that it was the courage of individuals that steered the fate of society into more human waters. This is why the way the female protagonist of Christian Pascariu’s One Year after faces the man responsible for her husband’s death is a mirror image of universal questions about the state of our society: Do we allow hate and anger to control our fate? Can an individual be any more than an individual? Of course, says Janno Jürgens with his film Distance (Estonia), an extraordinary father-son story. 140 Drams by Oksana Mirzoyan (Armenia) goes one step further in showing the smallest part of society as mature elements of a greater whole.
But humour also plays an important role, being one of the most important strategies for overcoming difficulties in our lives, as seen in Kamila Safina’s Roald Dahl adaptation Chippendale (Russia), or in Stremt 89, a short documentary by Anda Pușcaș and Dragoș Dulea from Romania. Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak jr., on the other hand, use black humour and satire to show their criticism of the modern, often passive, majority society in their multiple award winning contribution Rabbitland. The conclusion being: The selected contributions to the compe tition show there are almost no limits to the creativity of filmmakers in converting the topic of civil society into exciting stories.