Celebrating Europe and Russia in films

Last Updated 21 October 2013, 16:13 IST

The Department of Slavonic and Finno-Ugrian Studies, Delhi University, is back with its annual ‘Little Europe 2013’ - A Festival of Films from East Central Europe and Russia.

This time, the theme of the festival is ‘City in Cinema’ and a number of iconic films have been chosen to portray the historic cities of East Europe and Russia such as Moscow, Prague, Warsaw, Zagreb etc.

The Department of Slavonic and Finno-Ugrian Studies provides certificate courses in languages like Russian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Croatian etc. For the past 10 years now, they have also been holding this film festival for its students and the public at large to get to know more about that part of the world. 

Head of the department 

Dr Ranjana Saxena informs Metrolife, “In a classroom environment, we can only teach the interested the nuances of a certain language, but the understanding of a culture can only come through mediums like cinema. Cities of East Europe and Russia have been through tremendous change since the fall of Communism and their assimilation into the Western world traditions. It is very interesting to analyse this through films.”

So in this edition, the department recently screened Lidice – the 2011 Czech drama by Petr Nikolaev narrating the destruction of Lidice, Prague, by Nazis. The story alternates between František Šíma, who is imprisoned following a family dispute, and Václav Fiala, who strings false stories of bravery against the Nazis. When the Nazis come to know of Fiala, they wreak havoc on Lidice. When Šíma is freed and returns to his city, it is razed from the ground.

It was followed by Zagreb Stories Vol.2 – the celebrated series of stories about love and family in present-day Zagreb, the Capital of Croatia. These included Pears by Hana Vecek, From One Day to Another by Sara Hribar, Sweetie by Aldo Tardozzi, Son by Ivan Sikavica, Somebody Can Throw a Cigarette Butt From Above by Josip Viskovic and Squared by Radislav Jovanov Gonzo.  

On 24th, they will be screening Hindemith (2009) by Andrey Slabakov – a Bulgarian movie about two families living in the same neighbourhood who are forever competing on their ‘social status.’ On October 25th, see The Eighth Day of the Week (2007) by Judit Elek on Hanna, a yesteryear actress who is evicted from her apartment and finds herself at a train station against the backdrop of Hungary’s growing mafia.

The best is reserved for the last two days. On 28th, see My Name is Ki (2011) by Leszek Dawid which documents the experiences of Ki, a young mother, whose keenness on escaping the responsibilities of parenthood sees her manipulate and exploit several people into caring for her child. On 29th, the 2010 film Moscow, I Love You by E. Konchalovsky will be screen-ed which, as the name says, is all about exploring Moscow.

The festival also includes workshops where experts will train students in the craft of filmmaking. A student of Russian language, Abhishek Das, exclaimed, “It is a wonderful opportunity to not just see the most acclaimed European films of all time but also have specialists teach us film direction. No wonder, the festival has full attendance even when our classes see empty rooms.”

(Published 21 October 2013, 16:13 IST)

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