Eastern European films at the Glasgow Film Festival

  • The List
  • 14 February 2008
California Dreamin'

Taking its lead from both the rise in Polish immigration into Scotland and the critical euphoria which has greeted recent Romanian films including Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, this year the GFF throws the spotlight on Eastern European filmmaking . . . against all the odds.

Indeed, the film funding models in any of the countries represented here (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Serbia) are as depressing as our own, and yet it is difficult to imagine a film as full-blooded as Hungarian epic Children of Glory (GFT, Mon 18 Feb, 6.15pm; Grosvenor, Tue 19 Feb, 6.30pm) being made here. Co-written by Hungarian émigré Joe 'Basic Instinct' Eszterhaus, the film dramatically details a water polo grudge match between Hungary and the Soviet Union at the 1956 Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, Testosterone (GFT, Sat 16 Feb, 6.15pm) is a farcical Polish comedy about thwarted engagements. Poland also comes up trumps with Krzysztof Krauze’s moving biopic of naïve artist Nikifor Krynicki, My Nikifor (GFT, Fri 15 Feb, 6.15pm) and Jan Kolya Sverak’s Empties (GFT, Sun 17 Feb, 6.15pm) which paints a picture of voluntary retirement with the deftest of brushstrokes. Also worth checking out from Poland is unsettling morality tale The Collector (GFT, Wed 20 Feb, 6.15pm).

Serbia is well represented by Srdjan Golubovic’s moral dilemma melodrama The Trap (GFT, Thu 21 Feb, 6.15pm) with its echoes of Kieslowski’s ethical dramas. It is no surprise, though, that the best film here is Romanian. California Dreamin’ (GFT, Fri 22 Feb, 6.15pm), made by Cristian Nemescu before his death in a car crash in 2006, is a stunning evocation of the war in Kosovo, a time of paradox, patriotism and duplicity.

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