Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, 2004, 131 min.
The theme: borders as they appear in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia after the fall of the wall and just before the countries enter the European Union. The idea is brilliant and the film is good. One can always argue, of course, that in compilation films such as this, the quality of the films will always differ. Here, too, the differences in tone and approach are enormous, but they are overshadowed by the fact that the Austrian initiators from Geyerhalter Films brought this – in their own words – ‘episodically structured project’ to a successful result with visible respect for the individual directors. The differences in tone and approach underline the always so praised European diversity. Eastern Europe is not just one thing, as many Westerners might think. In this respect the film is wonderfully varied.
That will be my focus. Content-wise it is quite simple: if you want to know something about the countries involved, the films offer you human portraits that arouse your curiosity about the history, social conditions and politics of your neighbours.
The journey along the borders goes from north to south. Polish Pawel Lozinski is thus the first to give us his masterly managed micro-look at a small village at the German-Polish border. The old people who live here came from the former eastern border region after WWII when the Soviet Union seized Polish land. Lozinski depicts his characters with a sure hand in beautifully photographed tableaux: shoeing a horse, building a shelter for the dog, slaughtering a duck and sitting down to drink one more vodka and talk about the past.
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