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Common Past, Shared Future presents the best of East European films

The Visegrad Film Festival 'Common Past, Shared Future' presents the best animations, short and feature length films from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Slovak Republic

Menna Taher, Monday 30 May 2011
The Stones
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The Visegrad Film Festival at the Rawabet theatre in the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art started on Sunday 29 May, with a number of short Slovakian films and animations.

Some were interesting, others less so, but one thing they all had in common was a surrealistic, even a childish approach, with many of the animations using materials like cardboard, paper and clay.

In Earth (1966), a primitive animation, one sees the effect of modernisation on the environment.

A man is struggling to cut the grass when approached by another man wearing black. Bit by bit he grants the man more advanced tools to work with.  At first the mower is happy, but the green space is slowly invaded with industrial machinery and little by little, tall buildings surround, and then overshadow the greenery. Suddenly this once-green world turns black.

Lovers without Clothes (1996) is intriguing as it plays around with the shapes that a thread can make. In this short animated piece, a woman is waiting for her lover while wearing a new dress. While waiting, a thread unravels from the dress until the dress completely disappears.

The thread takes the shape of a man and entertains her while she’s waiting for her lover. It takes her to a different world, entered through a crack in the wall.

As she gets fed-up with the man she returns to home and her real-life lover arrives with a gift - the same black dress she was wearing earlier.

About the Two People (1966) is interesting its playfulness with the cutting and folding of paper. It depicts two people, made out of paper, as they fall in love, get married until finally their relationship falls apart.

The Stones (2010), a 26-minute musical, was eerily dark and disturbing with a strong resemblance to Tim Burton’s films. With great visuals it depicts a grey world in the depths of a crater of rocks. As the workers hack away at the rocks from sunrise every day, one can feel the brutality of their lives and surroundings.

In this world a woman visiting her husband stands out. Amid a grey backdrop she’s the only person who is wearing something colourful.

The woman’s high-pitched voice had a chilling feel, which worked with the atmosphere of the film, but was a bit irritating.

Stefan (1999), inspired by the Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is also a strange story, and has a magical approach.  A dead body remains unspoiled for more than two weeks, as three women take care and fall in love with the corpse, until people start to hail its preservation as a miracle.

Perhaps this is a commentary on society and the constant and human longing for miracles, legends or something to acclaim. It could also be seen as a symbol of the immorality of the world, with no place for purity.

The Origin of the World (2002), a 22-minute animation, has many interesting elements though it’s too lengthy for a short animation.

It attempts to re-create the story behind the creation of man through biblical stories, based on Brazilian mythology. Many materials were also used in this animated piece, including cloth, cardboard and clay.

The Visegrad Film Festival is on until 31 May and will present films from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Slovak Republic. It is hosted by Mind the Gap, a civic association for inter-cultural activities, founded in 2008.

Screenings start at 6 pm at the Rawabet Theatre in the Townhouse Gallery, located at 3 Hussein El Me'mar street, off Mahmoud Bassiouni street, Downtown Cairo.

 

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