Monday, 26 July 2010
(Marko Skop; Czech Republic/ Slovakia; 2009)
The MIFF 2010 festival is kicked off with this short and sweetly melancholic documentary about a tiny village that is barely a smudge on the map of Slovakia. After a gentle, almost inconsequential beginning where we learn that the small elderly population of this village (196 people and rapidly dropping) is made up of Rusyns, a national minority in Slovakia, and that there is not a heck of a lot to do in Osadne, the film settles on two village figureheads – the mayor and the priest. Their plans to bring vitality to their village seem archaic and out-of-step with the modernisation that Slovakia is undergoing with its incremental introduction into the European Union. Their trek to the EU to drum up support and funding for their plans seems to highlight the loss in culture, community, and perhaps even tradition, not only of this village but others just like it. The even, gentle pace of this film does not force any kind of message upon the viewer, yet by the end of the film, it is difficult not to be quietly moved by the plight of Osadne. This is not a radical or spectacular documentary, in terms of its flow, subject matter, or presentation, but its strength lies in the unassuming style it uses to present a struggle against the inevitable.