FILM CRITICS ON THE FILMS OF PANORAMA.DOC PROGRAMME

Searching Eva

Svetlana Sementchuk on Pia Hellenthal’s film

 

Pia Hellenthal’s full-length directorial début which premièred at the Berlin Film Festival. Searching Eva consists of seemingly unremarkable, mundane episodes from the life of a young girl named Eva Collé, accompanied with fragments of her social media posts and letters sent to the girl by anonymous users.

Eva belongs to Generation Z, she was born in a small town in Italy and moved to Berlin. She speaks of herself as a model, musician, blogger, and sex worker. Eva spends days in experiments, trying to understand and accept herself, to get rid of the labels that society puts on girls. Every day she publishes posts and photos, provoking lively and contradictory reactions: from admiration to condemnation, from gratitude for inspiration to threats.

Searching Eva is at the same time a biographical film and a portrait of the selfie generation that puts everything on display and destroys any stereotypes about “norms,” be it identification, beauty, sexual orientation, work or creativity. Hellenthal is looking for a real heroine, switching between the provocative and even shockingly frank Internet image of a self-confident rebel and the quiet girl with a serious look, trying to get rid of not only complexes and social pressure, but also her own past, which Hellenthal captured with her camera.

 

 

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

Nikita Smirnov on Rob Garver’s film

 

“Pauline is my second mother, an accomplice and a driving force of my creative life,” recalls film director Paul Schrader. Many authors of New Hollywood could say the same about Pauline Kael: Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg. Kael is one of those film critics whose fame was made not by how she destroyed, but by how she created (although her scoldings were also widely quoted). Kael spotted Hollywood’s own “new wave” in its infancy, as she herself was brought to film criticism by the previous wave.

In 1968, she became a permanent film reviewer for The New Yorker magazine, where she worked for twenty-three years. Kael herself was already almost fifty at the time, but she let neither her age nor the status of the authors deter her: even as a district critic, she lambasted Charlie Chaplin for Limelight.

The film about Kael is much more than an interesting memoir, even though it features respondents from Woody Allen to Quentin Tarantino. The story of Kael is the story of the struggle for the profession. This is a film about how she was denied the right to be a film critic: “Critical analysis is a male tool.” About how her voice became heard on the waves of the public radio of Berkeley, California. How her house became a salon where the crème de la crème of the city met. How a local cinema became a centre with film programmes that Kael came up with. How she became a full-time critic of the prestigious The New Yorker. And how, in the end, she won – and everyone won with her.

 

 

Forman vs. Forman

Yegor Sennikov on Helena Trestíková’s and Jakub Hejna’s film

“Naturally, I am Salieri, not Mozart. I have always envied the great – Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni…”, says Milos Forman offscreen, thinking back to filming Amadeus (1984). He does not put himself in the same row with those whom he envies – “what am I, nothing.” But you do not believe this coquetry, it is only the first frontier; the authors of the film invite us to look beyond it, to approach Forman and study the evolution of the Author.

Foreman appears here as a figure formed by the political context and social circumstances: his personal history develops against the background of the hard and complicated path of Czechoslovakia in the 20th century. The 1938 German invasion costs Forman his parents, who died in a concentration camp; an aversion to naive, straightforward Soviet propaganda films leads him to the New Wave; Soviet tanks in Prague force him to leave his homeland. The leitmotif of the film is the constant search for absolute freedom, both creative and vital; if not from the market, then from an idiot censor.

Following this movement is an exciting experience,to a large extent because of the charm of Forman himself. In this pursuit of freedom, he – with the invariable cigar in his hand, a noticeable Slavic accent (in both English and French), a sly squint – seems like a man without doubts. In Cannes and New York, on a farm in Connecticut and in Prague, he still remains remarkably independent and free.

“I know that we are not immortal, but I simply do not want to believe that I can die at any moment, and nothing will make sense.”


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