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You are in: Home > 2014. 62nd Edition  > News > Fifty films make up the retrospective "Eastern Promises. Autobiography of Eastern Europe"
Fifty films make up the retrospective "Eastern Promises. Autobiography of Eastern Europe"
Friday, August 8th, 2014

Eastern Promises. Autobiography of Eastern Europe is the title of the retrospective to be screened at this year's 62nd San Sebastian Festival, a look at movies produced since 2000 in the countries that lived under Soviet influence post-World War II. A cycle to discover the creative wealth of these film industries and the new talents to have emerged in the last decade.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. An occurrence which brought an end to the division of Europe that had marked the Cold War and to Soviet domination in these countries, totally separated ideologically and culturally from the rest of Europe. From then on, a series of momentous historical events completely changed the political geography of the countries forming that bloc traditionally known as "Eastern Europe".

As was to be expected, these changes, which radically transformed the former communist societies in barely 25 years, are reflected in the cinema produced in those countries, a cinema which now brings us a record and testimony of that social and political process. All propose new perceptions for today's spectators depicted in the myriad themes, genres and styles included in the retrospective: social drama, comedy of manners, thrillers, movies about teens, science fiction, documentaries or war films.

The retrospective will bring together a total of 50 titles from Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldavia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia, many of which have never been seen in our country.

A publication coordinated by Matthieu Darras will accompany the cycle in the shape of a book with contributions from distinguished journalists and critics across Europe: Janka Barkóczi, Hana Cielova, Andreea Dobre, Mária Ferenčuhová, Zsolt Gyenge, Blazej Hrapkowicz, Eva Križková, Anita Libor, Alexandra Olivotto, Yoana Pavlova, Vladan Petkovic, Tristan Priimägi, Ola Salwa, Stefan Uhrik and Greta Varts.

Several directors of films in the retrospective will attend the Festival to present their works: Sarunas Bartas (Lithuania), Kristina Buožytė (Lithuania), Marian Crisan (Romania), Mira Fornay (Slovakia), Bohdan Sláma (Czech Republic), Malgorzata Szumowska (Poland) and Anna Viduleja (Latvia).


Kruh in mleko / Bread and Milk
Jan Cvitkovic  2001
Country(ies) of production: Slovenia

A modern classic of Slovenian cinema, the tale of a man who went out for bread and milk and lost himself to alcohol. A tragicomic tale of loneliness, loss, the cinders of love where there was once a fire.

Moszkva tér / Moscow Square
Ferenc Török  2001
Country(ies) of production: Hungary

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but a group of teenagers from Budapest don't seem to care. Yet underlying their carefree lives is a complete chronicle of recent Hungarian history and the social changes they will have to deal with. 

Ničija zemlja / No Man's Land / No Man's Land
Country(ies) of production: Bosnia and Herzegovina - France - Slovenia - Italy - UK - Belgium

One of the most important films about the Bosnian War, winner of an Academy Award and Best Screenplay at Cannes. Bosnian filmmaker Danis Tanovic tells the tale of two men who try to survive in the madness of war.

Pismo do Amerika / Letter to America
Iglika Triffonova (Bulgaria)  2001
Country(ies) of production: Bulgaria - Netherlands - Hungary

A man records for his distant, dying friend, an emotional voyage through Bulgarian landscape and a portrait of its inhabitants, the witnesses of a time destined to be forgotten. 

Piotr Trzaskalski  2002
Country(ies) of production: Poland

A modern fairy tale where the toad is a guy who collects scrap metal for a living and the princess is the sister of a couple of dangerous thugs. A surprising melodrama acclaimed with awards at the Berlin, Karlovy Vary and Warsaw Festivals. 

Fine mrtve djevojke / Fine Dead Girls
Dalibor Matanic  2002
Country(ies) of production: Croatia

A lesbian couple encircled by a gallery of grotesque neighbours: a nightmare landlord and his violent homophobic son, a sinister abortionist, a gang of hooligans... A diabolical thriller and merciless testimony of the ills of Croatian society.

György Pálfi  2002
Country(ies) of production: Hungary

Gyorgi Pálfi, one of Hungarian cinema's most hallowed names, needs no dialogue to describe various snapshots of life in a small rural community to the rhythm of an old man with hiccup. Special Mention in the Zabaltegi New Directors section of the San Sebastian Festival in 2002. 

Výlet / Some Secrets
Alice Nellis (Czech Republic)  2002
Country(ies) of production: Czech Republic - Slovakia

Czech director Alice Nellis won the New Directors Award in 2002 thanks to this road-movie packed to the hilt with sombre sense of humour. Grandmother fulfills her dream, Mother stops treating her daughters like kids, the daughters stop treating their husbands like idiots and father’s ashes get spread all over the country.

Kontroll / Control
Nimród Antal  2003
Country(ies) of production: Hungary

One of the most suggestive surprises to come out of Hungarian cinema in recent years is this nocturnal, surrealist fable about the fauna that inhabits the metro in Budapest: ticket controllers pushed to the limit, serial killers, expert ticket skivers, and girls who look like fairies. Winner of the Youth Prize at the Cannes and Warsaw Festivals. 

Český sen / Czech Dream
Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda  2004
Country(ies) of production: Czech Republic

A documentary based not on the truth, but on a huge lie: film students advertise the opening of a supermarket that will never exist. But what they film is the pure truth: Czech society's love of consumption since the fall of Communism. 

Georgi i peperudite / Georgi and the Butterflies
Andrey Paounov  2004
Country(ies) of production: Bulgaria - Canada - Finland - Netherlands - Norway - UK - USA

A documentary about the incredible adventures in capitalism of psychiatrist Dr. Georgi Lulchev and the Home for Psychologically Challenged Men.

Kako ubiv svetec / How I Killed a Saint
Teona Strugar Mitevska (Macedonia)  2004
Country(ies) of production: Macedonia - France - Slovenia

A Macedonian production that competed at the Rotterdam Festival. The tale of a woman who returns to the United States to discover a harsh reality about to explode with tragic consequences. 

Predmestje / Suburbs
Vinko Moderndorfer  2004
Country(ies) of production: Slovenia

An acid, ironic portrayal of today's Slovenian society through the confused lives of a group of friends who think the answer to their problems lies in alcohol, violence and racism. 

Wesele / The Wedding
Wojciech Smarzowski  2004
Country(ies) of production: Polonia

Wojciech Smarzowski, one of Polish cinema's most recent revelations, debuted with this acid view of Polish society portrayed in the description of a hectic wedding day, a madcap panorama drenched in alcohol, money and corruption. 

Fekete kefe / Black Brush
Roland Vranik  2005
Country(ies) of production: Hungary

The best tradition of American independent cinema with a purely Hungarian touch: a surrealist comedy in black and white about four chimney sweeps, the absurd situations they experience and their laconic discussions.  

Kornél Mundruczó  2005
Country(ies) of production: Hungary

Kornél Mundruczó reinterprets the story of Joan of Arc in a bold and surprising film that breaks down the barriers between film and opera to transfer the mythical character to modern Hungary. Presented in the Un Certain Regard section at the Festival de Cannes in 2005. 

Lost and Found - Six Glances of a Generation
Stefan Arsenijevic, Nadezhda Koseva, Mait Laas, Kornél Mundruczó, Cristian Mungiu, Jasmila Zbanic  2005
Country(ies) of production: Germany - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Bulgaria - Estonia - Romania - Serbia and Montenegro - Hungary

Several of the most noteworthy filmmakers in today's Eastern Europe come together in this film of six episodes on intergenerational conflict and social evolution in the former Soviet Bloc countries.

Moartea domnului Lazarescu / The Death of Mister Lazarescu
Cristi Puiu  2005
Country(ies) of production: Romania

Winner of the Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Festival, this film by Cristi Puiu introduced the world to Romanian cinema: the Kafkian odyssey of a normal man lost in the hell of bureaucracy.

Příbĕhy obyčejného šílenství / Wrong Side Up
Petr Zelenka  2005
Country(ies) of production: Czech Republic - Germany - Slovakia

A bittersweet comedy of manners where a love story is an excuse to meet people desperate to make contact with each other, whether jumping from planes, making extra money by watching the neighbors having sex, even living with shop-window mannequins.

Štĕstí / Something Like Happiness
Country(ies) of production: Czech Republic - Germany

The winner of the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Festival in 2005 was this Czech production; a sharp plunge into the dilemmas of a group of people confronted with the responsabilities of adult life.  

A fost sau n-a fost? / 12:08 East of Bucharest
Corneliu Porumboiu  2006
Country(ies) of production: Romania

Corneliu Porumboiu, one of the leading voices of the new Romanian cinema 'miracle', debuted with this shrewd historical reflection on the part played by Romanians in the 1989 revolution. Winner of the Caméra d'Or at the Festival de Cannes in 2006. 

Jasmila Žbanić (Bosnia-Herzegovina)  2014
Country(ies) of production: Bosnia and Herzegovina - Croatia - Austria - Germany

This first film by the Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival. The tale of a mother and a daughter who try to find their way in the post-Bosnian War period.

Sutra ujutru / Tomorrow morning
Oleg Novkovic  2006
Country(ies) of production: Serbia

An intimistic drama about passion, the sensuality of youth, jealousy and possession, but above all about the need to recover time lost, to treasure the fleeting moments of happiness. Presented at the Karlovy Vary Festival. 

Klass / The Class
Ilmar Raag  2007
Country(ies) of production: Estonia

A highschool movie Estonian-style: a shy boy bullied by his classmates, an unexpected ally and a tribe driven by ancient codes of homophobia and violence. This first work from Ilmar Raag won awards at the Karlovy Vary and Warsaw festivals.

Nesfarsit / California Dreamin'
Cristian Nemescu  2007
Country(ies) of production: Romania

Winner of the Un Certain Regard Award at the Festival de Cannes, a sharp parable of US foreign policy. A small Romanian community has to deal with an unknown quantity: a train packed with American soldiers stopped right in the middle of their town.  

Janis Kalejs, Janis Putnins, Gatis Smits, Anna Viduleja  2007
Country(ies) of production: Latvia

Four of new Lethonian cinema's most representative directors helm a film in episodes portraying several decisive moments in the life of a man, from his happy-go-lucky childhood until the nonsensical challenges of adult life.

33 sceny z zycia / 33 Scenes from Life
Malgorzata Szumowska (Poland)  2008
Country(ies) of production: Poland - Germany

The crisis of a woman who thought she had everything but sees her life crumble round about her is recorded with delicate sensitivity by the Polish director, Malgorzata Szumowska. Winning film of the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno Festival. 

Podul de flori / The Flower Bridge
Thomas Ciulei  2008
Country(ies) of production: Romania - Germany

A beautiful documentary by the Romanian director Thomas Ciulei, shot over several months to portray the everyday life of a man in a Moldavian town who has to raise his three sons single-handed when his wife emigrates to Italy in search of work. 

Zivot i smrt porno bande / The Life and Death of a Porn Gang
Mladen Djordjevic  2008
Country(ies) of production: Serbia

A brutal, ruthless tour of post-war Serbia seen through an aspiring film director's descent into the hells of violence and sex. His delirious odyssey will take him from porn films to snuff movies and beyond. 

Cooking History
Peter Kerekes  2009
Country(ies) of production: Slovakia - Czech Republic - Austria

Péter Kerekes, one of Slovakia's most admired documentary-makers, portrays the army cooks. Recipes that have been sustaining campaigns from WWII to the Chechen War, from France to the Balkans and Russia.

Crnci / The Blacks
Goran Devic, Zvonimir Juric  2009
Country(ies) of production: Croatia

A controversial film that marked an inflection point in cinematic portrayal of the Bosnian War. Based on true facts, this claustrophobic fable oozing with underlying tension reveals the attrocities committed by the Croatian army during the conflict.

Iztochni piesi / Eastern Plays
Kamen Kalev  2009
Country(ies) of production: Bulgaria - Sweden

Presented at the Cannes Festival, winner of awards at several international festivals, a sharp look at the confusion reigning in Bulgarian society since the end of the Cold War, seen through the comings and goings of a drug addict and a teenager who mixes with people who are anything but recommendable. 

Katalin Varga
Peter Strickland  2009
Country(ies) of production: UK - Romania

Peter Strickland, director of the cult film Berberian Sound Studio, competed at the Berlin Festival with his first work: a cruel, perverse tale about a woman who takes to sinister forests in the Carpathian Mountains in the quest for revenge.

Püha Tõnu kiusamine / The Temptation of St. Tony
Veiko Õunpuu  2009
Country(ies) of production: Estonia - Finland - Sweden

One of the most surprising and imaginative talents of today's Estonian cinema, Veiko Õunpuu, bring us this moral fable in brilliant visual style: the tale of a man lost in a moral crisis.  

Eurazijos aborigenas / Eastern Drift
Šarunas Bartas  2010
Country(ies) of production: Lithuania - France - Russia

The Lithuanian moviemaker to enjoy greatest international prestige, Sharunas Bartas, directs and stars in a film noir shot in Paris, Moscow and Vilnius: the melancholy flight of a drug trafficker towards the women he loves and an unavoidable fate. 

Marian Crisan  2010
Country(ies) of production: Romania - France - Hungary

The debut of Marian Crisan, one of Romanian cinema's new talents, won the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno Festival. The tender and emotional tale of friendship between two men capable of understanding one another even if borders and conventions do everything they can to keep them apart. 

Pál Adrienn
Ágnes Kocsis (Hungary)  2010
Country(ies) of production: Hungary - France - Austria - Netherlands

Presented in the Un Certain Regard section at the Festival de Cannes, this film by Hungarian moviemaker Ágnes Kocsis introduces us to the life of a nurse addicted to cream cakes and her odyssey in search of time past by means of a dazzling, ice-cold visual style. 

Amnistia / Amnesty
Bujar Alimani  2011
Country(ies) of production: Albania - Greece - France

The secret story of love between a man and a woman who meet while visiting their respective partners in prison. A tale set in Albania, premiered in Berlin Festival's Panorama section.

Dom / The House
Zuzana Liova (Slovakia)  2011
Country(ies) of production: Slovakia - Czech Republic

The first film from Slovakian director Zuzana Liova is a satirically laced drama about the bonds of family and the rebellious urges of the young: a father builds a house for each of his daughters. What seemed to be a childhood dream turns into a nightmare.

Kolka Cool
Juris Poskus  2011
Country(ies) of production: Latvia

Juris Poskus directs Latvia''s great hipster chronicle: a group of friends who live on the shores of the Baltic Sea kill time drinking beer, getting into fights and having impossible conversations about life and love.

Pankot ne e mrtov / Punk Is Not Dead
Vladimir Blazevski  2011
Country(ies) of production: Macedonia - Serbia

Can punk stay alive in today's world? That's the question asked by this black comedy, winner of awards at the Karlovy Vary and Sofia Festivals: a punk band reforms to participate in a multicultural event.

Sala samobójców / Suicide Room
Jan Komasa  2011
Country(ies) of production: Poland

Jan Komasa's first film revealed a rising talent in Polish cinema. The portrayal of new youth given over to the pleasures and dangers of the Internet era.

Aurora / Vanishing Waves
Kristina Buozyte (Lithuania)  2012
Country(ies) of production: Lithuania - France - Belgium

A sci-fi movie that has changed the face of today's Lithuanian cinema. Far removed from the special effects of Hollywood, here we have a fantasy on a human being's most intimate aspirations, memory and desire. 

Djeca / Children of Sarajevo
Aida Begic (Bosnia-Herzegovina)  2012
Country(ies) of production: Bosnia and Herzegovina - Germany - France - Turkey

Bosnian filmmaker Aida Begic landed a special mention from the Un Certain Regard jury at Cannes for this description of the suffering that persists years after the siege of Sarajevo and the end of the Bosnian War.

Dupa dealuri / Beyond the Hills
Cristian Mungiu  2012
Country(ies) of production: Romania - France - Belgium

Winner of Best Screenplay and Actress at the Festival de Cannes, this movie by Cristian Mungiu is a terrifying and claustrophobic parabol on today's intolerance: a convent lost in the hills, an unrelenting priest, an exorcism and the inner demons that come to light. 

Milosc / Loving
Sławomir Fabicki  2012
Country(ies) of production: Poland

One of the big surprises of recent Polish cinema was this intense and anything but complacent drama about a couple whose love is put to the test by a traumatic incident that destroys their happiness. 

Ana Felicia Scutelnicu  2012
Country(ies) of production: Germany - Moldavia

Ana Felicia Scutelnicu won an award at the Rome Festival in 2012 for this meticulous, extremely beautiful and poetic description of the funeral rites in a Moldovan village, a ceremony where joy mingles with grief and life has the upper hand over death. 

Smrt čoveka na Balkanu / Death of a Man in the Balkans
Miroslav Momcilovic  2012
Country(ies) of production: Serbia

A man commits suicide, but his webcam runs on, impassible. And this fixed shot records the neighbours who wait for the police, drink the dead man's alcohol and play with his things. This film, awarded a prize at the Karlovy Vary Festival, describes a whole world in a single shot. 

Môj pes Killer / My Dog Killer
Mira Fornay (Slovakia)  2013
Country(ies) of production: Slovakia - Czech Republic

Mira Fornay won the Rotterdam Festival with this harsh tale of a young boy whose only friend is his dog. An hypnotic chronicle of a sluggish existence always on the verge of explosion.

Krugovi / Circles
Srdan Golubovic  2013
Country(ies) of production: Serbia - Germany - France - Slovenia - Croatia

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival, this melancholy description of the lives of five people in post-war Serbia asks a disturbing question: can we overcome the feeling of guilt, frustration, the thirst for vengeance? 

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