film ought to be just long enough to tell its story. While Hollywood has not conditioned audiences
to think of short films as star vehicles, the better ones have much more power
than a padded feature. In fact, several big
name filmmakers found twenty minutes was about the right length to tell some
important stories. As a result, those who
follow the international festival scene will be particularly interested in a
number of the short films selected for the 2013 Bosnian Herzegovinian Film Festival in New York.
an Academy Award winner, Danis Tanović is truly a filmmaker of international
stature. A past alumnus of the festival
with Cirkus Columbia, Tanović again
revisits the Bosnian War and its painful aftermath. Amir survived the war, ultimately settling in
Scandinavia. He has returned to Bosnia
hoping to recover his parents’ remains, but sadly, reports of their discovery
prove false. Revisiting his former
hometown, he comes face to face with the war’s flesh-and-blood ghosts.
only is Baggage (trailer here) is more visually dynamic than Cirkus (thanks in part to
cinematographer Erol Zubcevic’s stylish work), it taps into far deeper emotions. Despite his grim subject matter, Tanović
portrays both sides of human nature, producing an unusually resonant film (that
might just overshadow the feature it precedes).
man known to friends as Zizi is no celebrity.
He is a good-natured everyman, whose nickname is untranslatable in a
family outlet such as this. Director Nedžad
Begović however, also made the international festival rounds with Jasmina, another past BHFF selection. His simply but aptly titled documentary
profile Zizi allows his subject to
tell his story, through his own words and anecdotes. Zizi proudly proclaims his love for Italy, where
he was sheltered as a teenager, but he returned to help forge a new
Bosnia. Even more than Baggage, it is a hopeful film—a quality
that has sometimes been in short supply at previous festivals, for
Novaković has certainly worked behind the scenes of dozens of films viewers
know quite well. For The Fix (trailer here) he also
recruited a familiar face, Armand Assante, who portrays Vincent, a gangster
kingpin nobody wants to have a sit-down with.
Unfortunately, two incompetent thugs will have to have the big
talk. Fix is not a groundbreaker, but it is entertaining. It is especially nice to see Assante, Mike
Hammer in 1982’s I, the Jury, can
still bring his tough guy thing.
BHFF has a strong track record for programming
short, but this year’s slate is especially notable. Very highly recommended, Tanović’s Baggage screens this Friday (5/10) with Krivina (a bit of a tougher sell) as
part of Block #3. Upbeat and likable, Zizi screens later that same evening, as
part of block #4. Perhaps the most
commercial and accessible selection of any length, The Fix screens this Thursday (5/9) as part of Block #2. As always, BHFF is always one of the City’s
friendliest and most welcoming festivals, showcasing some of the most serious
and sensitively rendered films. Recommended
as the cure for a Tribeca hangover, this year’s edition gets underway Thursday at
the Tribeca Cinemas.
Labels: Armand Assante, BHFF '13, Bosnian-Herzegovinian Cinema, Danis Tanovic, Short Films