Film Scouts Diaries

2014 Festroia International Film Festival Diaries
Diary Part 6

by Henri Béhar


Festroia_12_PriestsChildren Cinema-wise, no much has been heard or seen from Croatia in the last twenty years. Probably few films were made there and fewer travelled. Rumor has it that it is picking up again, that local audiences are now more willing to see local fare which, one is told, is getting more and more diverse. One also hears that a film called The Priest's Children recently made the biggest opening ever for a domestic film.

All the more reason to check it out when it is screened here at Festroia.

The premise is hilarious. A young priest comes to work on a small Croatian island, soon to replace the old priest the closely-knit community is so familiar with. Before long, he realizes the population – i.e. his "clientele" - is rapidly decreasing: people age and die on the island, but the birth rate is virtually nil.
After a seller from the only kiosk on the island confesses that he "kills people" by selling condoms, the priest come up with a crazy idea. Teaming up with the seller and, later, the local pharmacist, he starts piercing condoms before they are sold, hoping to bring pregnancy back into fashion – I mean, in God's hands.

Hooray, it works! Pregnancies increase at the speed of lightning, bringing about a whole slew of problems within the community (unwanted births, dangerous liaisons revealed).

The condom piercing scenes are quite funny. The rest, for me, did not quite know what it wanted to be. The director keeps throwing in such preoccupations as the (still existing) divide between the secular and the religious, a relationship between the old priest and a young parishioner, the Church's good face vs. its darker one… At some point, you don't know whether he is going for drama, a moral debate or a farce!

The Czech cinema of yore knew how to mix tones - as opposed to shifting from one to another – and you wonder, perhaps unfairly, what a young Milos Forman or a young Ivan Passer would have done with this story.

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