In 1992 when former Yugoslavia was being ravaged by a devastating civil war, the wave of refugees that had spilled all over Europe reached as far as Denmark. With existing refugee camps filled to the brim, the Red Cross came up with an ingenious solution to tug a decommissioned ocean liner into a canal near Copenhagen. Soon renamed fittingly to Flotel Europa, this floating refugee camp became a temporary home to hundreds of refugees for several months or even years.
Among them was a 12-year-old boy, Vladimir Tomić, who fled Sarajevo along with his mother and older brother. More than 20 years later he decided to tell us his own personal refugee story. But, unlike one would expect, the film does not focus on the horrors of war or the reasons for emigration. The beauty of it is exactly in the fact that even though it paints the portrait of a refugee who does not belong, it looks at it through the eyes of a child that gladly fits anywhere as long as it feels safe. It does not look back to the terrible past or the uncertain future; instead, it fully focuses on the one timeline that truly matters – the present. More than anything, it is the story of first affection, but also that of finding friends and father figures, trying first alcohol and cigarettes, listening to rebel music and first erotic notions.
Virtually all video footage has been taken from personal VHS recordings made by “passengers” of Flotel Europa that document everyday life on the ship. These home videos of the period show primarily the triteness and triviality of everyday life on the ship; it is Tomić’s storytelling that provides the necessary emotional depth. But although the story is told from the standpoint of a naïve boy, the distance of two decades also allows the viewer to see the difficulties of living in this one-of-a-kind refugee camp.
By Adam Straka
Translated by Daniel Borský
Based on votes cast by the visitors, the Bratislava IFF Viewers’ Choice Award went to Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film Rafiki (2018) about forbidden love in Kenya.
Awards of the 20th Bratislava IFF 2018
“If you’re lucky enough to make living of something you really love, there is a downside – you don’t do it for fun, it’s a job.”
Tomáš Hudák. He studied Film studies (criticism) at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU). He’s a fan of film, music, literature and the art as such. He’s a freelancer, writing film reviews and co-organizing several Slovakian film festivals.
“It’s nice to step out from the bubble of social networks – the binary world of likes/unlikes to be part of the group of totally different people, who are connected only by the skateboards.”
Šimon Šafránek. – director, journalist, DJ – multi-genre artist with the sensation of music and word. He’s a freelancer, writing for the Denník N, Hospodářské noviny, Reflex, Magnus etc.
“Films make us better, braver, more romantic and free”
Bibiana Ondrejková. A popular theatre and voice actress and presenter. The general public knows her as the Slovak voice of Phoebe Buffay from the TV show Friends. Upon seeing her, viewers will associate her with the Slovak TV series The Defenders (2014), Red Widow (2014), Homicide Old Town (2010) or Block of Flats (2008).
“Actors infuse film with emotion and give it a soul”
Daniel Rihák. A fresh graduate of film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of prof. Martin Šulík. A director of (so far) student films and a number of commercials. His graduation film The Trip recently won the Best Director and Best Sound awards at the Áčko Student Film Festival.
“All women have the power to change things”
Ivana Hucíková belongs to the generation of young Slovak filmmakers. She studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, from which she graduated in 2015 with her film Mothers and Daughters. A Bratislava citizen from Orava, living and creating in Slovakia and the USA. So far, she has made several short documentary films: Into My Life (2018), Connie & Corey (2017) and is currently working on the development of several film projects as their director, producer or editor.
“Cinema is a great medium for sharing common European values”
Dominika Jarečná was born in 1999 in Bratislava. She currently studies Theory and History of Arts at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic). She was a member of the Giornate degli Autori jury at this year’s Venice IFF and is a LUX Prize ambassador for the years 2018 and 2019.
Film festival: “It’s a bit like a vacation full of stories”
Alena Sabuchová is a young Slovak author and screenwriter. For her debut collection of short stories Back rooms, Alena was awarded the Ivan Krasko Prize for the best Slovak-language debut as well as the Tatra banka Foundation Young Artist Award in the category of literature. She writes scripts for television and radio, and is currently working on her second book, which will be published next year.
“These films were among the most awarded debut films at this year’s leading festivals”
Nenad Dukić. Serbian film critic, who has been collaborating with the team of people preparing The Bratislava International Film Festival for 8 years now. This year (the 20th anniversary of the festival’s existence), he is again the compiler of the Fiction Competition and co-compiler of the section Cinema Now.
The popular section Cinema Now brings an overview of the most remarkable films of the season. Its curators, Nenad Dukid and Tomáš Hudák, have assembled the most interesting movies that have stirred the waters of world’s major festivals. For 20 years, the Bratislava IFF has been supplying the Slovak film public with names, which often become stars of the screen.
The curators of the section Lexicon: Female gaze, festival programmer Tomáš Hudák and the director of this year’s festival spot Ivana Hucíková, have focused on the status of women in cinema, their portrayal in film, and the uniqueness of a woman’s experience.