What is going wrong with post-YU cinematography? A recent series of less than remarkable works is bound to provoke this question.
Teona Mitevska’s “Jas sum od Titov Veles – I am from Titov Veles” for example. A random line-up of partially beautifully composed static pictures, credit to Virginie Saint-Martin for that. But does that make a film? A story that is based on the idea of the unavoidable personal failure in a continuously failing society. Ok, nothing new there, also nothing new in the fact that the story is falling apart in sync with the object that it is describing. The characters remain cliches, the misery of Veles and its smeltery remain cliches. And the few moments of rather forced poetry only underline this. The director said somewhere, she based the story on a short note in a newspaper. For good reason it was a short note.
“Klopka – The Trap” by Serbian director Srđan Golubović tells the story of the fight for survival in post-Milošević Serbia, where human relationships and ethics have long collapsed. An attempted film noir, which remains a film vide. Predictable, slow, lacking ideas, it remains caught in the tradition of Yugoslav cinema of the last 20 odd years, which has slowly, but surely voided itself of form and contents in the service of a fake realism, void in itself. At least not another of the unbearable screwball comedies from Serbia.
Even Milčo Mančevski’s “Senki – Shadows”, the third part of the trilogy that started with “Before the Rain” and continued with the even more powerful and highly underestimated “Prašina – Dust” disappointed somewhat. Mančevski got caught in the pathos of the story, sliding towards kitsch and falling into the trap of beautiful images and beautiful people at the expense of finding his genuine rhythm of storytelling. Also, I failed to understand the reason behind him turning towards a more conventional way of telling his story. Still, Mančevski is playing in a different league. Hopefully he decides to stay there.
Only briefly I shall mention Igor Ivanov-Izy’s “Prevrteno – Upside Down”, which is lacking just about any reason, why it would be more than a 3 minutes video-spot broadcast on MTV Adria.
So what is going wrong? I cannot explain it, but it is becoming a pattern. And the lack of social perspective, disillusionment, collapsing structures in the ever ongoing transition cannot be convincing enough as an argument. Just look at the latest wave of Romanian films, coming from a comparable socio-economic context. Brutally cold in their discourse, Cristian Mungiu, Cristi Puiu and the others have developed an aesthetic language, which is coherent and recognisable. And highly successful.
Vision! Come on…