A typical Ceausescu -era housing block. FOTO:FORTEPAN / Urbán Tamás

DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: ‘The Block’ (Șalaru, 2016) – a tantalising glimpse behind the Romanian Facade

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A screening and discussion of Maria Șalaru’s debut documentary Blocul (The Block) took place at the Romanian Cultural Centre on 8 December 2016. Șalaru, a PhD candidate of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford, gave a brief presentation of what her documentary – an ethnography of a communist-built housing block, so common in Romania – attempts…

Andreea Scridon | December 16, 2016
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MADE IN PRAGUE PREVIEW: ‘Always Together’ (Tomanová, 2014) – stoic and humane portrait of an alternative lifestyle, that does not go far enough

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Eva Tomanová’s documentary Always Together (2014) offers a glimpse into the strange life of an unconventional family with nine children, living in what amounts to an immense improvised treehouse in the shadow of a remote mountain, and migrating to Spain like a flock of birds each year. The most interesting figure in the film is…

Andreea Scridon | November 22, 2016
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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: ‘Revolution — New Art for a New World’ (Kinmonth, 2016) – comprehensive and visually striking, but strictly for beginners

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Revolution — New Art for a New World is a new documentary by a filmmaker Margy Kinmonth, which premiered in London last week and is expected to show at cinemas across the UK and around the world. Its release is timely, coinciding both with the approaching centenary of the Russian Revolution and a wide range…

Sofia Gurevich | November 13, 2016
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OPEN CITY DOCS REVIEW: ‘Mallory’ (Trestíková’, 2015): ‘Outdoes Ken Loach in its unblinking exposure of how society treats its most helpless’

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There are moments in Mallory, Helena Trestíková’s harrowing 2015 documentary – made over 13 years – about an unmarried Czech mother on the skids, where you feel you can’t watch much more. Ex-heroin-addict Mallory’s downward spiral is so merciless, and the authorities’ indifference so callous, that it makes bleak viewing indeed. Starting almost optimistically in 2002, as…

Robin Ashenden | June 14, 2016
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REVIEW: Drahomíra Vihanová’s Documentaries: exquisite portraits of loneliness and loss

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Mention the Czech New Wave to a moderate cinephile, and they may think of the generous-hearted, knockabout works of Miloš Forman, or the sly subversiveness of Jiří Menzel’s Closely Observed Trains. One director they almost certainly won’t mention is Drahomíra Vihanová, contemporary to them both but whose works were banned for 20 years. Hitherto deprived…

Robin Ashenden | June 7, 2016
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Frontline Review: ‘Oleg’s Choice’ (Volochine & Keogh, 2016): the Russian war in Donbass

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Oleg’s Choice is an honest and raw portrayal of war’s psychological effects. Oleg and Max, a commander and soldier in BARS Battalion, are both Russians who – provoked into action by propaganda – volunteered to fight in the Donbass region, in a conflict raging since 2014. Filmmakers Elena Volochine and James Keogh met Oleg in…

Rachel Nicholson | May 25, 2016