ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7 Blesok no. 58 | volume XI | January-February, 2008
Blesok no. 58,
at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Red carpets ribboned through the week at the 23rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival, spanning oohs and ahhs, yelps and squeals for Julie Christie, Cate Blanchett, Javier Bardem, Ryan Gosling, Tommy Lee Jones, and Angelina Jolie, in that order. And stars shone brightly as well on the faux black-sky ceiling of the 2,000-seat Arlington Theater, walled with real gold and amber lanterns and façades of the old Spanish mission town that the city once was. This site for the endless tributes was nearly as packed for a new film from Kazakhstan by Sergei Bodrov, Mongol. A glorious old-style action film devoid of character development and heart-felt conflict (even with narration delivered in first-person voice-over), it offered plenty of blood and bodies and land-and-skyscapes, a rough-hewn exotica when compared to, for instance, a glittering Zhang Yimou palace epic.
Yet in smaller theaters and some uniquely pleasant mid-size venues (the city offers several, patchworked through its downtown), very astute and committed cineastes streamed into half a dozen new films designated as “Eastern Bloc” in the catalog and filled the houses. I never saw so little popcorn (nor food or drink of any kind) consumed in movie theaters (though it was generally available) or heard so much conversation in the lobbies afterward. At this mid-fest writing moment, I haven’t seen all of these films (Fatih Akin’s The Edge of Heaven is yet to come and gaspingly anticipated), but so far Alexander Sokurov’s eloquently enigmatic Alexandra, Andrei Zvyagintsev’s striking and engrossing The Banishment, and Milčo Mančevski’s singularly compelling Shadows are enough to call any festival a success. Together they bring an aesthetic and socially conscious edge to this eleven-day event that is perhaps not so pronounced in any other particular segment of the program. And a crime it shall be if they don’t soon make it into local art-house theaters across our country. If only because it takes so long to encounter a new work by him, even though he now lives and works in the U.S. (heading the Directing Department at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Graduate Program), this review will focus on the latest by Milčo Mančevski.
Following his much fêted debut, Before the Rain (1994), and his second feature, Dust (2001), writer-director Milčo Mančevski has once again provided us with the perfect festival film: a visual tale of dramatic substance, with historical depth and contemporary thrust, adroitly told with innovation and élan.
"Blesok" editions 01-93 are also available at CEEOL web site.
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