Astra revisits the past with a retrospective sidebar
by Stefan Dobroiu
- The ten selected documentaries show the challenges that former communist countries encounter in synchronising with Western Europe
At its 25th edition, the Astra Film Festival (15-21 October, Sibiu), Romania’s oldest documentary film festival, seems eager to re-analyse the past. The festival has put together a retrospective sidebar, Road to Europe, which explores the challenges faced by former communist countries on their path towards synchronising socially and economically with Western Europe. The sidebar comprises ten films screened (and some awarded) at previous editions. The organisers tell Cineuropa that these movies are important for Astra history, as their screenings were accompanied by relevant debates on the region’s most pressing issues.
The oldest title in the retrospective is Vuk Janic’s The Last Yugoslavian Football Team (Netherlands, 2000), which explores the trauma of the breakup of Yugoslavia from the point of view of its last national football team. We stay in the same region with Srdjan Keca’s A Letter to Dad (Serbia/UK, 2011), about how individuals take responsibility for their actions during the Yugoslav Wars. Iossif Pasternak's My Lost Russia (France, 2004), meanwhile, presents ordinary people in a small Russian village trying to discover whether things will ever change in Russian society.
Shot in 1989 and edited in 2010, Laurenţiu Calciu’s After the Revolution (Romania, 2010) shows the aftermath of the 1989 Revolution through the reactions of ordinary people filling the streets of Bucharest during the first few days of democracy. Réka Kincses' Balkan Champion (Germany, 2006) portrays what happens when a Hungarian ethnic with political ambitions adopts an uncompromising stance against the Romanian Securitate. Leszek Dawid's A Bar at the Victoria Station (Poland, 2003) accompanies two young Poles trying to make a living as immigrants in London.
Kaspars Goba's Homo@Lv (Latvia, 2010) takes us back to 2005, when Latvian society was deeply disrupted by a gay parade in Riga, one of the first public LGBT events organised in a former communist country. Tibor Kocsis' New Eldorado (Hungary, 2004) shows the reaction of Romanians when an international mining company plans to destroy one of the country's oldest inhabited regions (now struggling to become a UNESCO World Heritage site) for profit. We also encounter an approach that is both social and economic in Marcin Latallo’s Our Street, about a working-class Polish family whose lives change course when the communist factory where they have worked for generations is turned into a shopping mall.
Finally, Meelis Muhu and Kristina Norman's PMR explores one of Europe's most politically contested areas, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic.
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