Bigger projects are a utopia for smaller towns
First off, I want to note how I feel that the coverage I gave of this on the latest podcast could have been alot better. “Farthest point of Slovakia” – east? west? north? south?. Rusyn people – who and what are Rusyn people? I would like to think that this is my opportunity to correct that. I saw this film alongside Juraj and Jana, Slovakians themselves who managed to inform me that in some places, the representation by Marko Skop of Osadné is ‘so like Slovakia’. Jana apparently came from a similar town. Right lets get it right this time …
What I reckon …
To clarify, yes, Osadné is on the farthest point east of Slovakia and what is important about this, is that it is the fartest point of the European Union. Though very lonely, the effects of Slovakia joining the EU will hit Osadné last. It is a very lonely town in the middle of nowhere and, obviously amongst many aspects of the EU, one of them joins all these European countries together – and, in the process, places like these get very little representation. The folk of Osadné are of Rusyn origin. There are only 55,000 people who ‘associate themselves as having’ Rusyn ethnicity (see wikipedia for that possibly inaccurate fact) – mainly based in Romania and Slovakia. Osadné has a population of 210 according to Wikipedia – and in the last five years the priest has buried 50 people and christened 2. This Greek Orthodox priest and the Mayor – a man who has been Mayor of Osadné for 36 years – have decided to use this link to the EU to fight for the survival of the village. Both hope to make Osadné a tourist destination – a monastery and a chapel of grief is what these towns people hope to build but they need funding … from the EU.
It is an incredibly funny film as there is a drinking culture in Osadné – so every time epople celebrate or make a decision they clink and drink shots. The amount of times I saw clinking and drinking in this movie is in double figures -and each time it happened everyone in the audience chuckled as it was so regular and clearly an important part of the culture in Osadné. Maybe why so many people died. At one point, the Mayor is taken to hospital but there is no exploration as to why … but apparently he must give-up something and have a fresh start. Maybe this was alcohol…
We also meet Fedor Vico – vice-chairman of rhe Rusyn Revival movement. He joins the Mayor and Priest on their trip to the EU parliament in Brussels is equally strange and comedic as the Priest and Mayor are. In Brussels we see funny shots of the three staring up at obscure abstract art pieces – in some cases discussing how the pieces would look fantastic in a field outside of Osadné. It is these sections that reminded me of The Big Lebowski. I felt that a Hollywood producer would watch this film and, pretty much, remake it but with famous actors. Akin to the mockumentaries by Larry Charles and Sacha Baron Cohen. Fact is, this is reality and these are actual people. In Brussels, they offer the ambassadors invites to Osadné whereby they can go hunting … the liberal ambassador politely declines.
We regularly see public gatherings – two funerals, one christening and the revealing of the Rusyn notice board (a bear … that was originally considered to be a large owl) and, at these points, we are shown fantastic shots of the older folk of Osadné. I feel that this recalls Bergman who often showed faces of people that were rarely seen – incredible faces with detail. Upon resigning themselves to the notice board – upset about the reality of monasteries and Chapels of Grief being only a dream – the Priest and Mayor explain how ‘bigger projects are a Utopia for smaller towns’ and maybe this is true of the film. The potential for a comedy based upon the same factors would be successful and yet, it will remain as an unknown documentary on the international festival circuit. Unless some Hollywood mogul finds it and see’s what I see …
I would recommend it, but be prepared for a strange, awkward-laughter viewing – a similar feeling to when people first viewed the unknown offerings in TV series The Office and feature-film Borat.
Just wondering where you get your figures for the number of Rusyns worldwide. This site:
estimates 1.5 million worldwide.
Eeek. Awkward moment … its wikipedia that gave me that information … so … it may be wrong. I'll adjust the review so it specifies the source and people can either trust the ever-changing wikipedia or … not.