ARTMargins Online Blog

Czech That Film — Czech Cinematography Festival in Chicago, Gene Siskel Film Center, June 9 - July 3, 2013

Written by Zdenko Mandušić

What beyond language gives films a national quality? As the cinemas of Eastern and Central Europe seek to promote themselves abroad, solely appealing to the singularity of each nation no longer looks to be enough. More than cultural idiosyncrasies, it seems these cinemas have to claim stakes in the production of new film movements. Over the course of four weeks in June 2013, the Czech That Film festival promoted the output of modern Czech cinema at Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center. The eight films screened in Chicago were selections from a larger repertoire, which toured ten American cities from April to August 2013. These films might represent images and narratives shaped by Czech culture, but they should not be viewed anthropologically for signs of a supposed Czech psyche or national character. Nor should audiences expect uniform narrative interests or aesthetics. By virtue of narratives that ranged from suspenseful dramas to coming-of-age stories and romantic comedies, variously set in the present-day or during Communist times (1948-1989), and through a mix of minimalist and stylized aesthetics, the films shown in Chicago truly represented a range of styles and genres. Instead of considering their national identity, the projection of these films and the festival itself should be considered within the context of global film distribution and promotion.

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GeoAir Project “Undergo. The Parallels.”

Written by Tamta-Tamara Shavgulidze

Event which took place in 2012 from the 24th of May till the 3rd of June, in Tbilisi, Georgia seems worthy to write about it. Event was dedicated to public space and to the attempt to shift the understanding of public sphere in Georgia. In spite of the fact, that the event took place several months ago, I would like to emphasize on its meaning for Georgians, who mentally are still the part of Soviet public space. The understanding of public space itself comes for us from Soviet times. Because totalitarian government used public space as the place of ideological icons placement (architectural monuments, monumental sculpture, recreation zones etc.), citizens of Soviet countries never thought themselves as the meaningful person involved in public space. Citizen's ability to contribute in urban, public space as the bearer of different cultural code and the experience sharing process between the city and the citizen has been cancelled. Because of Soviet politics of constructing public space the society became closed, structured and shaped under ideological model.

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Back to the Future: Recent Trends in the Cinemas of Hungary and Romania

Written by Zdenko Mandušić

Late last year, a concerted effort was mounted at the Sixth Annual Making Waves, A Festival of New Romanian Cinema, which took place at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, from November 29th to December 5th, to shed light on some depressing changes affecting film production in Romania and Hungary. These changes can be summed up as a drive to again reign-in cultural production under the thumb of government. Prior to the festival, articles in New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had alerted readers to the shake up inside the Romanian Cultural Institute. After the coalition government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta came to power in spring 2012, it issued an emergency ordinance, which reorganized the Romanian Cultural Institute (Institutul Cultural Român, from here on the ICR) and altered its emphasis from "making Romanian culture better known abroad" to "preserving and perpetuating" the national identity of Romanians living abroad. The new policy was meant to put the ICR under tighter political control of Romania's Senate. Dubious claims of accounting irregularities and complaints about the negative impact of the previous policy on the "feeling of belonging to the Romanian nation" for those living abroad were asserted as the motivations for the emergency ordinance.  

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Where Film Style Comes From

Written by Zdenko Mandušić

The current holder of the annual Belyi kvadrat (White square) award for Russia's best cinematographer, Mikhail Krichman surprisingly did not study camerawork in film school. After his army service, Krichman studied printmaking. He was drawn to film production after meeting a film school graduate, who invited him to help out during a shoot. During this, his first experience of filmmaking, Krichman was responsible for changing the focus of the camera. In several interviews he has confessed to making a mess of things on that film set, ruining the first take he was involved in. His fortunes have drastically changed since those early mistakes. Along with film director Andrei Zviagintsev, with whom Krichman has collaborated so far on four productions, the once novice cameraman has become one of the leading cinematographers in the Russian Federation, receiving critically praise and collecting festival prizes at home and abroad.


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