Saturday, March 17, 2012

Film review: "The State of Shock"

"A bittersweet comedy about capitalism and changing social values during the past 20 years, which have completely transformed the Eastern European countries. A story about losing and regaining the power of honesty." (Sofia International Film Festival website)

I was so impressed by this newest feature film by Andrej Košak (Slovenia). A collaborative effort between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia, the film centers around a Yugoslav metal worker who goes into a state of euphoric shock when he is awarded with a communal apartment at the first of May worker's celebration in 1986. He wakes up from this catatonic state ten years later to find his entire world changed: Yugoslavia no longer exists, capitalism has replaced the socialist system he loved so much and his wife has married his best friend. As he struggles to adapt to this new reality, the audience witnesses some of the violent economic and political changes taking place in the region today. Most of the people he meets think he is crazy because he lived in an institution for so long, but as the film draws to a close it appears that he may be the only sane person left. The script was touching, funny and thought-provoking. 

Because I attended the Bulgarian premiere at the Sofia International Film Festival, the director and leading actor (Martin Marion) were there to answer audience questions at the end. A testament to how much modern technology has permeated everyday life, Marion revealed how he first met Košak: a few years ago he read a comment the director had written on a mutual friend's blog and realized they were both living in Berlin. He contacted the blogger on Skype, got Košak's phone number, called him and they soon began working together on the film. Originally rejected in Slovenia, they finally won the support of several screenwriting organizations and local production companies to fund the project. The result is one of the best films I've seen in years, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the recent past of the Balkans or Eastern European society in general.

You can watch the trailer here. 

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