A Totally Absorbing Experience

Report on the Warsaw Festival 2014. By Jes Nysten

© Rafal Nowak

The Warsaw Film Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. There were five competitive sections: International Competition, Competition 1-2 (for first and second films), Free Spirit Competition, Documentary Competition and Shorts Competition, and five non-competitive sections in addition. Every competition had two juries. The Ecumenical Jury saw the films in the International Competition together with the main jury. 

There were 15 films in the International Competition - mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia. Five of the films were debut films. Interesting but also, from my point of view, a bit risky. But it worked out well. Actually the film that we choose as winner, "In the Crosswind", and the one chosen by the main jury, "The Coffin in the Mountain", were both debut films. 

We saw our winner already on the third day, and felt at once  that it would be hard for any film to match this one. And we were right. "In the Crosswind" is a totally absorbing experience. Made in black and white, it gets along almost without any speech - we only hear a woman's voice reading lines from some letters. The dramatic story about violence, deportation and death is shown in tableaux - with the figures standing as living statues, and with only the camera gliding through the scenes. Made this way, the director gives us the opportunity to think, to see, to contemplate, because he is not going for our feelings. So much stronger is the story. I will not forget this story - and not forget this film. The director is Matti Helde from Estonia. He is 25 years old! I wonder what will come next.

© Gabriel Goldberg