Andrey Paounov second full-length documentary after “Georgi and the Butterflies”, which won the silver wolf in Amsterdam (IDFA 2004), also shows the will of Critic’s Week to choose a documentary for its Cannes selection that takes a daring approach to a social issue.
“The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories” is structured like a puzzle with an element of absurd poetry in each of its pieces- which provoked lots of laughter in the audience. The small town of Belene, located next to the Danube River, is attacked by mosquitoes resistant to any treatment. Musicians, pom-pom girls, retired persons and NATO military personnel- all the inhabitants are observed through the way they react to the insects, the invisible enemies that even the hunters are incapable of destroying. All these characters seem slightly crazy- we even wonder how people that strange can really exist- but all of them are regarded with genuine tenderness. If they speak about mosquitoes, it’s just because they are reluctant to speak of anything else, but their silence is even more expressive than a long interview.
The young documentarist portrays an east European town that never had the opportunity to escape the downfall of communism. The former concentration camp has now been turned into a farm with a few horses and pigs. The NATO military units are filmed training how to fight. An employee at an unfinished nuclear power plant plays the guitar in front of the barrier. All these places and people are symbols of the past showing the entire collapse of Eastern Europe: hope for the future seems to have vanished. Using dark humor and irony to talk about society, the director succeeds in making a documentary that is funny, poetic and political, all at the same time.
© EDN/ModernTimes (previously published in DOX Magazine).