Directions (Posoki), (Stephan Komandarev, 2017)

By Mónica Delgado

The Iranian film A Man of Integrity, by Mohammad Rasoulof has just won Un Certain Regard, and since it’s a film that we didn’t watch, we can’t really judge the jury decision or the film itself. However, we highlight two Eastern Europe films presented in this section which were interesting enough (but inferior to last year’s Câini, by Bogdan Mirica or Sieranevada, in the official competition) and had a particular universe which we describe here.

Stephan Komandarev’s Directions (Posoki), who already has three fiction features, shows the quotidian life of an indistinct group of Sophia’s cab drivers through different episodes. The film starts in a similar manner than Panahi’s Taxi, where the camera registers the passengers and cab driver points of view, in different shots-countershots or from the copilot place, which allows a panoramic of both characters, showing them in antagonistic situations most of the time. The whole of Directions happens inside the vehicles, in sequences at night, having as a background the languid ambience of the Bulgarian capital. For its nature, this is a film that sustains itself in its dialogues, that go between dark comedy and drama, and that usually end in violent situations, showing the dark side of this profession. At the end, this treatment feels as an excuse to show the frailty of time, the post-communist crisis and a strong social tension.

The interest that Directions awakes lies in its mise in scene and the building of a “cab driver Short Cuts”, people who pick up and leave passengers without meeting each other, and that live reconciliations, encounters and losses in this panoramic view of their lives. Komandarev creates a microcosm that allows us to measure a Bulgary about to explode, of frustrated people in the exercise of their profession because of government policies or just the stress of day to day work.

Despite this non pretentious approach, Komandarev manages to turn this cabdriver’s experiences in little time bombs, undressing them in the process.

Out (György Kristóf, 2017)

On the other side, Out is an Slovakian film directed by György Kristóf that at least flees from any glimpse of explicit social problem (echoes of the Russian and Ukraine conflict, a theme that at least two films have exploited in the festival) to set a wager on a portrait of an unemployed man.

Out’s protagonist is offered a well-paid job in Latvia, a reason why he leaves his wife and daughter, while preparing for this new work. However, when he reaches the country, his life becomes transformed, as does the film style, which starts with a dry, descriptive tone of this process of change. When reaching Latvia, the film becomes rarified, in a light oneiric state, where new characters emerge, most of them eccentric (a drunk man lover of crypts and his wife, a fanatic of surgery processes, for example), including a dissected anima, that becomes a friend on his adventures.

While the development of Out seems irregular, since it looks to dwell much like the lead character in his search of job and his desire to become a skilled fisherman, Kristóf manages to keep the attention to this reality that borrows a nightmarish tone, where finding work becomes an act of fantasy, where reality is intercepted by this bizarre tone, where everything can happen.

Director, productor: by Stephan Komandarev
Escrita por: Stephan Komandarev, Simeon Ventsislavov
Bulgaria, 2017

Director: György Kristóf
Escrita por: Eszter Horváth, György Kristóf, Gábor Papp
Productor: Ferenc Pusztai, Marek Urban
Fotografía: Gergely Pohárnok
Edición: Adam Brothánek
Hungría, 2017