The drama of the refugees smuggled to Europe is a kind of signum temporis. No wonder that the 55th edition of the Karlovy Vary festival, which acts as a cultural link between East and West, was won by a shocking film showing the tragedies of people wandering on the borders.
The political context, crucial in the case of the hotly discussed Usnarz Górny with refugees in need of immediate medical assistance, brought to the Polish-Belarusian border, does not play a significant role in the awarded film. The religious theme is also discreetly muted in it. Crystal Globe, as well as awards for photos and the best male performance for Ibrahim Koma, he received for the courage to face the problem of marital fidelity and freedom in a situation of imprisonment. Although it concerns culturally alien visitors from distant Africa, the conflicts they experience, shown from their internal, intimate perspective, are very universal.
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On the Balkan refugee route
The English title “As Far as I Can Walk” makes sense better. Original – “Strahinja Banovic” – refers to a little-known medieval epic poem, focusing on the fate of a wealthy nobleman who sets off on an endless journey through the farthest corners of the continent in order to find his kidnapped wife. On the screen, the quoted verses of the poem constitute an ironic commentary on the heroic choices of a newly married couple from Ghana. Young people deported from Germany, on their own, dream of asylum, and are stuck somewhere in a border camp on the Balkan refugee route.
The man is trying to make a career in one of the Serbian football clubs. He goes to trainings, fights hard for his life, is close to signing a contract. But he is overwhelmed by responsibility, perhaps too much, because he is a sensitive type. Passionate, caring, the opposite of maczo. She, with an acting degree, does not intend to play the role of a meek wife, passively submitted to her husband’s will. I want to do my own thing. On my own terms. Act. As soon as he sees a chance to spread his wings and break free from the world of pariahs, he escapes from a transit camp with a group of immigrants crossing the Hungarian border illegally. The slowly, unhurriedly built up tension finds an outlet in a violent finale, which would actually resemble a sharply engaged cinema, if it were not for the dreamlike poetics, which gave it the dimension of an ancient tragedy.
Also read: “Immigrants”. French cinema about refugees
Emigration and feminism
The psychological film by 44-year-old Belgrade-born Stefan Arsenijevic focuses on the pursuit of an abandoned man who wants to recover his lost treasure, who does not understand the situation in which he finds himself. The complicated relationship between two close people comes to the fore when their relationship slowly ends emotionally, although they both believe that they love each other very much. It seems interesting that the marital crisis is born not so much under the influence of objective obstacles in the form of difficult conditions, insufficient aid from humanitarian organizations, barriers that cannot be crossed, but also goals, unsettling ambition, different ideas about dignity, ways and models of life .
In line with the hot trend of cinema describing the maladaptation of emigrants landing at the bottom of the social ladder, desperately trying to fill the emotional abyss that separates them (including “Atlantyk”, “Berlin Alexanderplatz”, “Immigrants”), in “As Far as I Can Walk ”The feminist perspective comes to the fore quite unexpectedly. By taking the side of the innocent, against whom barbed wires are being set up and setting the boundaries anew, the filmmakers also talk about insurmountable mental divisions, differences in characters, and personality types. There is no easy consolation here, and instead of hope there is doubt about what the future holds.
Read also: “Atlantyk”. A social love story
Johnny Depp greeted like the Pope
This year’s festival in Karlovy Vary took place after a year of pandemic break and was under siege – just like New Horizons or many other events returning to the traditional stationary formula. Despite the rain falling all week and the limited number of guests, the atmosphere was almost euphoric, intensified by the presence of great Hollywood stars. The Lifetime Achievement Awards were received by Michael Caine and Ethan Hawke.
But the real madness broke out when he appeared on the red carpet on the last day Johnny Depp promoting its two latest films. He was greeted like the Pope. To see him, crowds blocked the streets. The police had to take special precautions. In “Minamata” he plays Eugene Smith, one of the most respected photographers of the 20th century, thanks to whom he managed to publicize the deadly effects of mercury poisoning to thousands of inhabitants of Kumamoto Island in Japan. The documentary “Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan”, dedicated to the legendary Irish singer of The Pogues, has been friendly produced and featured by Depp.
Allen, Depp, Polański. Hollywood Blacklist
The organizers made it clear in a special statement that they did not judge the moral attitude of the actor who recently lost a defamation case against the boulevard “The Sun” in a British court (she called the star “a female boxer”, accusing him of beating and psychologically abusing Amber Heard, his ex-wife, whom he divorced in 2017). They invite him and honor him because he is an outstanding artist. A year ago, the organizers of Camerimage issued a similar justification, handing Depp (remotely) a Golden Frog statuette for an actor with special visual sensitivity.
Due to the growing controversy over his personal life, Depp, like Woody Allen and Roman Polański, is on the Hollywood blacklist. He recently lost his role in the blockbuster “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” based on JK Rowling’s books, as a result of accusations of domestic violence. Europe, as you can see, has a different point of view. In a few weeks, on September 22, despite the protests of Spanish feminists and film scholars, Depp will receive another laurel at the San Sebastian festival – the Donostia Award for lifetime achievement.
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