East of the West Competition
After the Winter
Na konci zimy /
Directed by: Ivan Bakrač
Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, 2021, 101 min
Five childhood friends from a small Montenegrin town have gradually moved away to different corners of the former Yugoslavia, yet they remain in contact, aware that their long-time friendship continues to play a fundamental role in their lives. In his inspired debut, director Ivan Bakrač delivers a spirited testimony of the young post-war generation, who still have the shadow of the past hanging over them.
Directed by: Grzegorz Jaroszuk
Poland, Czech Republic, 2021, 74 min
Piotr’s father, whom he hasn’t seen for ages, calls him out of the blue and asks him to pay a visit. When he tells Piotr and his sister that their mother has gone missing without a word, the members of this estranged family start searching for her and, along the way, find out all sorts of weird stuff… Employing outlandish and, at times, absurd humour, Grzegorz Jaroszuk examines the theme of loneliness and conveys how difficult or even impossible it is to communicate with other people, particularly our nearest and dearest.
Intensive Life Unit
Jednotka intenzivního života /
Jednotka intenzivního života
Directed by: Adéla Komrzý
Czech Republic, 2021, 73 min
Even though doctors Ondřej and Kateřina look after their patients to the best of their ability, they can’t prevent their death. As heads of palliative care at Prague’s General University Hospital they face the inevitability of the end on a daily basis. Yet what perhaps makes their job harder is the myriad options now open to them to prolong human life – and this at a time when death has become a social taboo. Betraying her special brand of empathy, documentarist Adéla Komrzý demonstrates that, while there’s no good or bad way to die, there’s always a means to improve patients’ quality of life.
Mirrors in the Dark
Zrcadla ve tmě /
Zrcadla ve tmě
Directed by: Šimon Holý
Czech Republic, 2021, 84 min
Supposedly, all it takes is 36 questions and you’ll fall in love with anyone. Marie (Alena Doláková), a dancer who has just turned thirty, and her boyfriend František decide to check out this scientific theory for themselves. Yet can we rely on our love for other people if we don’t even know ourselves? A supremely contemporary view of 30-something individuals trying to navigate the way ahead.
Directed by: Vladimir Munkuev
Russia, 2021, 107 min
An impoverished Yakut couple have just buried their newborn child and they are now preparing for the harsh winter ahead. When the local governor instructs them to take in a Russian political prisoner, they have no choice but to comply. The foreigner’s presence, however, encroaches upon their lives more than they had anticipated… This evocative drama is a noteworthy example of Yakut cinema, while it also contributes significantly to the debate on the impact of colonisation and the forced assimilation of nations within tsarist Russia.
Otarova smrt /
Directed by: Ioseb "Soso" Bliadze
Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, 2021, 106 min
Two families, each facing its own existential difficulties, are brought together by an unfortunate event. For one family, the accident has a fatal impact; for the other, it becomes an opportunity for a better life. The film’s careful exploration of all the participants’ perspectives culminates in a meditation on human morals while not shying away from a tragicomic tone.
Directed by: Petros Charalambous
Cyprus, Israel, Slovenia, 2021, 86 min
Chara’s family is everything to her, and yet she sometimes ponders a life without them. When she strikes up a hesitant friendship with a young girl, she is inexorably forced to confront a painful past and to answer a burning question: Is motherhood a natural state of boundless love and caring, or is it an ideal imposed by society?
Directed by: Tea Lukač
Serbia, 2021, 80 min
A silent landscape flashes past the windows of a moving car conveying different sets of passengers. The conversations veer towards such diverse themes as carol-singing, nuclear waste, and the dangers of hornets’ nests. Tea Lukač’s anthropological probe gets by with a minimum of cinematic devices in order to deliver a focused study of the phenomena of memory, history and tradition.
V běhu /
Directed by: Andrius Blaževičius
Lithuania, Czech Republic, 2021, 87 min
When Marija learns that her boyfriend, who has had another of his psychotic episodes, has disappeared from their home, she runs into the streets of the city in order to find him and hopefully prevent a tragedy. Andrius Blaževičius’s dynamic drama, set over the course of 24 hours, explores the subjects of love and freedom. Marija is played with vital energy by the actress Žygimantė Elena Jakštaitė, who was chosen for the prestigious Shooting Stars program at this year’s Berlinale.
Jako sestry /
Directed by: Dina Duma
North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, 2021, 90 min
The friendship of two adolescent girls is threatened the moment they have to face the dire repercussions of their manipulative behaviour. The film is set in the teen community, for whom amassing followers on social media is more important than cultivating genuine relationships. In her subtle debut the director adopts an authentic approach to capture the formative moments of youth, which teach us to accept responsibility for our actions.
Marťanské lodě /
Directed by: Jan Foukal
Czech Republic, Norway, 2021, 76 min
Eliška (Eliška Křenková) meets Martin (Martin Kyšperský) at a birthday party and then invites him to one of her lectures. They clearly hit it off right from the start and, with Brno serving primarily as a backdrop, their romantic adventure begins to gather momentum… A lyrical film which prompts us to consider whether we can really know and understand another human being, and whether love itself is enough.
Jiná smečka /
Directed by: Hajni Kis
Hungary, Slovak Republic, 2021, 98 min
Tibor and Niki, father and daughter. The young girl was only five years old when they last saw each other, before Tibor was sent to prison. He is released seven years later and tries not to think about the past. Yet he can’t erase his daughter from his life and so they are compelled to start over from the beginning. Both are irresistibly charismatic, headstrong and irascible, but also determined to find a way back to one another.