Review: Varga (2017, Soňa Maletzová)

 

The documentary film directed by Soňa Maletzová is a portrait of Marián Varga, a legend of the Czechoslovak music scene. As many suchlike films, this one too reflects a particularly difficult time in the life of the artist – a different, original, innovative, progressive and controversial musician. Some found his style, artistic and life alike, crazy, whereas others imitated and loved it.

We’re following Varga in his declining years, when he was diagnosed with an incurable disease and little time to live. The brilliant artist is withering, falling into depression and losing his lust for playing music and ultimately life itself.

 

 

The entire film is based on contrasts. The old versus the new, then and today, health and illness. Even some of the very musician’s attitudes eventually change and become contradictory. He admits that he “once had strong opinions on everything, but now everything is infested with a kind of relativism.” Although introverted but still avid for live and creating music, Varga lived his life to the fullest. Thanks to his fame and recognition, he waltzed through life almost without obstacles. “And that’s not good,” says the musician. Now he feels just like Meursault from Camus’ Stranger. He’s suffused with feelings of scepticism, indifference and over time even depression. The moment when a time-lapse of his life unwinds before his eyes, it’s spirituality that suddenly acquires a different dimension.

 

One of the film’s strongest assets is its montage. The “exhibition” editing begins with a rapid photographic montage and continues with associative editing methods, binding the director’s film material with archival footage from TV, various shows and concerts. Similarity acts as a base glue for the old and the new. It is a transition tool between the film’s time and spatial lines. Although the film contains many conventional metaphors and metonymies (a ticking clock, indicating the merciless and irreversible passage of time or a cigar, representing the protagonist himself), they do not come across as hackneyed, but fit nicely into the contrasting film poetics. Its dramaturgical miniature is excellent as well, from exposition through peripety and all the way to the climax with an expressive catharsis. Moreover, the viewer does not even need to know the actual protagonist or Marián Varga’s works to understand they’re witnessing a musical genius.

 

The film will be screened in a special sneak preview, personally attended by its director Soňa Maletzová, editor Marek Šulík and a member of the band Queer Jane, Vladimír Nosáľ, at 8 p.m. in Kino Mladosť.

 

Mária Demečková

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.