Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
BHFFNYC ’15: A Quintet
is a reason some people stay in hostels even when they can afford nicer digs.
They crave those brief but memorable incidental encounters. Travel is
broadening, especially for those coming from or going to Berlin in the
five-part multinational anthology film A
which screens during the resiliently scrappy 2015 Bosnian Herzegovinian Film Festival in New York.
the five constituent short films, one of the best is the late night tale set in
Sarajevo—a fact that should hardly surprise anyone. In Kosovar filmmaker Ariel
Shaban’s “The Tourist,” a disgusted Sarajevan reluctantly protects a German
visitor from the consequences of his hedonism. Slowly, a connection is forged,
but the fatalistic Bosnian understands better than the naïve German their
friendship mostly likely expires when the sun rises. Bosnian actor Armin
Omerovic is terrific as the Samaritan, but what really distinguishes “The
Tourist” is the way Shaban captures the strangely calm feeling one gets when completely
lost in an Eastern European city late at night, when you do not speak the
language. If you have ever been there, you will recognize it immediately.
filmmaker Elie Lamah’s “Friend Request” is the other head-and-shoulders high
point and it also happens to be the boldest. Rami, who coincidentally happens
to be a Lebanese filmmaker, has been enjoying the German festival that
programmed his film, until a colleague invites a group of Israelis to join them
for drinks. While the Israelis are more than happy to overlook past tensions
between their countries, Rami is not so gracious. However, he has some reason
to be cautious, since, as he pointedly reminds everyone, he could be tried for
treason by his government merely for associated with citizens of Israel.
Nevertheless, he might just start to loosen up a little when he walks back to
the festival hotel with Ayala, the Israeli director.
Request” packs a real punch precisely because Lamah never resorts to facile
sentimentality or Pollyannaish takeaways. Instead, he suggests in no uncertain
terms, hatred and misunderstanding are allowed to persist when average people
like Rami are afraid to take the tiniest of stands.
are also some lovely performances in Sanela Salketić’s opener, “The House in
the Envelope.” It is a small story about a Turkish woman briefly returning home
from German and the cabbie she keeps hailing, but it is a crowd-pleaser.
Screenwriter Demet Gül brings a wonderfully subtle and refined presence to the
film as the expat Leyla, while Salketić fully capitalizes on the Istanbul
its brevity, the narrative of Roberto Cuzzillo’s “Polaroid” is oddly (but not
intentionally) disjointed. However, the work of cinematographer Roberto Montero
and segment composer Enrica Sciandrone is quite striking. Unfortunately, Mauro
Mueller’s New York-set closer, “The Cuddle Workshop” is about as cloying as it
Quintet is all about fleeting
moments and there are enough good ones in the film to make it worth your time.
Recommended for fans of Bosnian-Kosavar-Turkish-Lebanese-German-Italian cinema,
it screens tomorrow (5/23) at the Tribeca Cinemas, as part of this year’s
Labels: Anthology Films, BHFF '15