Film Scouts Diaries

2001 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries

by Henri Béhar

Tuesday, July 10 - Stefan Jaëger's Birthday, from Germany (in competition) is the story of four friends who meet after years of separation to celebrate their (respective) thirtieth birthdays together. (The film is divided in chapters: ''Date, So-and-So's Birthday''). It becomes very clear, and clearer each time, why the four friends have gone their separate ways. One is now suicidal, one is pregnant, one hesitates to come out of the closet. They often talk directly to the camera… and you gradually realize that no one is putting a gun to your head to spend two hours with that lot. So you don't.

Hi, Tereska (from Poland, world premiere, in competition) is another kettle de poisson altogether. Barely in her teens, Tereska looks like an angel and signs like one in the school choir. She also dreams of escaping from a world limited to prefab blocks of apartment buildings and a dysfunctional family (dad drinks, mom, overly pious, prefers her younger sister). Eager to become a fashion designer, she attends a sewing school, befriends Renata, a decidedly more experienced girl, discovers alcohol, cigarettes, and sex. More importantly, the use of sex as a weapon for survival, as she soon engages with a crippled janitor in a perverse power play…

One is amazed to realize that the film was directed not by a woman but by a fifty-year-old man, Robert Glinski, who also penned the script. One is even more in awe at the unfettered brazenness of Alexandra Gietner's performance in the title role. It is certain that the jury will have to reassess what the consensus was so far in terms of the Competition. Asked whether, in case she won, the leading lady would come and pick her Best Actress award, someone associated with the production replied: ''Well, as soon as she's found. She's just escaped from her Correctional facility''. Ouch!

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