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Letters From BIFF Programmers

Eight Films that Show the History and Reality of Eastern Europe

I am introducing eight films from former socialist Eastern European countries at this year’s Busan International Film Festival.

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Dear Comrades! Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky

The first, Dear Comrades!, by renowned Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky, deals with a massacre that took place in Novocherkassk in 1962. When workers protest for their rights, they are met by the state’s armed response. The fact that worker’s demonstration was met with arms in a country that claims to be the “workers’ paradise” was not known to the outside world for a long time. Konchalovsky’s film, which takes a look back at a painful part of Russian history, won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival.
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Palmyra Dir. Ivan Bolotnikov

Russian director Ivan Bolotnikov’s work Palmyra is also based on a true story, in which a father travels to Syria to see his daughter who has joined a terrorist organization.
It is interesting to take a look at films from countries formerly under the control of the Soviet Union because of their sociopolitical backgrounds not dissimilar to ours.
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In the Dusk Dir. Sharunas Bartas

In the Dusk focuses on the political situation in 1948 Lithuania. While in Korea communists went into the woods to take part in the partisan movement, in Lithuania those who opposed the communist rule went into the woods. They believed that the Western world will aid Lithuania’s independence, but the country is subsequently left under the Soviet rule for decades.
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My Favorite War Dir. Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen

My Favorite War depicts Latvia’s modern history similar to that of Lithuania’s. A girl who was educated in the communist system slowly comes to understand the reality of the Communist Party. Tragedy again interrupts in the Balkan Peninsula after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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Quo Vadis, Aida? Dir. Jasmila Žbanic

Female director Jasmila Žbanic’s main interest lies in the Bosnian War. Having received the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2006 for Grbavica, Žbanic once again depicts the massacre by the Serbian army in Quo Vadis, Aida? The film details the grim situation in which nothing could be done to prevent ethnic cleansing despite the deployment of the United Nations peacekeepers.

A film that depicts the contemporary reality of Eastern Europe is I Never Cry.

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I Never Cry Dir. Piotr Domalewski

A father emigrated from Poland to Ireland in order to provide for his family. His daughter, who just turned 17, learns that her father died in an accident. The film portrays how the daughter, who has never met her father, learns to stand alone in the world by learning about him.
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Beginning Dir. Dea Kulumbegashvili

Beginning, directed by a new female director from Georgia, is a film that leaves a lasting afterimage. The director has a unique style of unfolding unexpected events in an empty and quiet space. Dea Kulumbegashvili, who makes her feature film debut, is a name to remember. Beginning won the Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress awards at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Finally, Hungarian female film director Lili Horvát’s Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time is also worth noting.

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Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown
Period of Time Dir. Lili Horvát

Selected at the Venice International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, the film is a unique piece of work that undoes the preconceptions of romance films while preserving their appeal.

I hope you get to experience diverse films from Eastern Europe this year in Busan.

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By Program Director NAM Dong-chul