On May 3 from 9 am through 1pm at the Center for Managing Enterprises in Media, Entertainment & Sports (MEMES) at UCLA Anderson SEE Fest is hosting its 2nd annual Business Conference on South East Europe's cinema, a half-day seminar on packaging and financing international productions, producing in South East Europe, and the role of new media in distribution of foreign films.
"We bring to light innovative, different films that create an in-depth portrait of south east Europe, where countries are sandwiched between defunct empires and mixed legacies", says Vera Mijojlic, festival director. "They are the voices of a wonderfully expressive diversity, something southeast Europe and Los Angeles have in common.""
Some of the films slated for this year's SEE Fest include stories that explore how to stay "Alive!" when confronted with ancient blood feuds (Albania), seeking "Bells, Threads & Miracles" between Muslims and Orthodox Christians (Greece), about people taking "A Step into the Darkness" of radical ideologies (Turkey) or remarkably enduring their fractured existence thanks to the subversive genius of Balkan humor in "Goodbye, How are you?" (Serbia).
The South East European Film Festival is the only festival in the United States devoted exclusively to southeast Europe. Its message is not only to show films but to educate about the South East Europe's region, its troubled history, and cultural diversity.
Fifth annual SEE Fest runs from Thursday, April 29 through Monday, May 3, 2010. Screenings April 29 & 30 start at 6:30pm, May 1 & 2 start at 1:00pm and are held at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, 5750 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 100, Los Angeles, Ca. 90036. The closing night of the festival is held on Monday, May 3rd at 6:30pm the James Bridges Theatre on UCLA campus in Westwood. Business conference takes place on Monday, May 3 at UCLA Anderson. For tickets and further information go to www.seefilmla.org, or www.itsmyseat.com (SEE Fest).
GOODBYE, HOW ARE YOU? (Dovidjenja, kako ste?), Serbia 2009, doc, 60 min. Directed by Boris Mitic.
The cult filmmaker of Pretty Dyana (SEE Fest 2006) is back with a terrific documentary whose narrative comprises darkly satirical aphorisms and commentary on the lives and times of the Serbian people in the last two decades. The subversive genius of Balkan humor is in abundant evidence, matched with images of daily existence that are both funny and nihilistic.
ALIVE! (Gjalle!), Albania 2009, feature, 90 min. Directed by Artan Minarolli.
From the director of the elegiac "Moonless Night" (SEE Fest 2008) comes a powerful story about a blood feud that entangles a young student in a web of complicated relationships stemming from an antiquated tribal code. "Alive!" has an excellent ensemble cast and a pitch-perfect atmosphere of uncertainty until the very end.
THE BLACKS (Crnci), Croatia 2009, feature, 75 min. Directed by Zvonimir Juric and Goran Devic.
War. A city under siege. A truce has been signed, and the special ops squad known as "The Blacks" is about to be disbanded. Despite the cease-fire, the squad commander plans a maneuver to destroy an enemy dam while retrieving the dead bodies of his soldiers from a mine-strewn forest. Although the surviving members of the squad are tortured by their personal doubts and guilt, they move into action behind their leader....
THE OTHER IRENE (Cealalta Irina) Romania 2008, feature, 90 min. Directed by Andrei Gruzsniczki.
Sharing themes as it does with some of the finest European thrillers, it is hard to believe that The Other Irene is, in fact, based on a true story. Reluctantly, security guard Aurel (Vasluianu) lets his wife Irene go on a working trip to Cairo. Having had a breath of fresh air, she returns transformed and soon sets out again - but this time she does not come back. Now Aurel's true ordeal begins as he sets out on his own journey: a search for his wife amidst suspicious bureaucrats, corrupt ministers and diffident in-laws. The Other Irene reveals the intransigence of Romanian political and bureaucratic institutions even after the fall of Communism. The film's crisp cinematography, especially apparent in the mall where Aurel works, beautifully emphasizes the main character's solitude, and actor Andi Vasluianu performs the brooding desperation of his character with incredible delicacy. Ronnie Scheib of Variety describes the film as "a cross between The Vanishing and Jeanne Dielman".
SECRET YEARS (Eltitkolt èvek), Hungary 2009, doc, 90 min. Directed by Mariá Takács.
In Secret Years, Hungarian lesbians reflect on their experiences living through the years of Communism. Ranging in age from 45 to 70 years old, these women vividly remember the repression of the 1960s and 70s, when they were forced to hide their true identities and could only "be themselves" at secret clubs and picnics. In this powerful documentary, these courageous women proudly reminisce at the methods used to get through some of the toughest times of their lives.
9:06, Slovenia 2009, feature, 71 min. Directed by Igor Sterk.
This first-rate psychological drama, directed with masterful precision, takes us to Ljubljana, where police inspector Dusan (in a terrific performance by Igor Samobor) investigates an unusual suicide case. His investigation gradually turns into obsession, and he surreptitiously moves into the apartment of the deceased, delving deeper into the man's life and gradually assuming his identity.
A STEP INTO THE DARKNESS (Buyuk oyun), Turkey 2009, feature, 110 min. Directed by Atil Inaç.
How dangerous do you become when you have nothing left to lose? A young Turkmen girl is the sole survivor of a panicked raid on a village in northern Iraq. Desperate to track down her older brother in Turkey, the only other family member still alive, she sets off on an arduous journey over inhospitable terrain. Rescued only to be assaulted by her rescuer, she eventually finds herself, having lost everything, in the clutches of a charismatic religious figure who views her as an expendable weapon in his own violent agenda.
BELLS, THREADS & MIRACLES, Greece 2008, doc, 65 min. Directed by Marianna Economou.
Is something miraculous happening at the St. George Monastery on the Princes' Islands of Turkey? Every year, on the Saint's name day, over 100,000 Muslims visit the Greek Orthodox monastery to pray for a miracle. Are miracles possible in our times? Can Christians and Muslims meet and bond through a common faith? Bells, Threads & Miracles explores the seemingly universal human need to believe in miracles.
TRANSITLAND, 1989-2009 - Presented by lead curator from Berlin, Kathy Rae Huffman.
Transitland is a collaborative archiving project initiated on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A selection of 100 single-channel video works reflects the transformations in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe. Transitland is not only the widest-spanning presentation of video art from Central and Eastern Europe but also a unique attempt to address and reflect upon an extensive period of transformation and changes.
For tickets and further information go to www.seefilmla.org, or tickets can be bought through www.itsmyseat.com.