A macédoine is a salad of many fruits mixed together. Macedonia is also a region in Greece whose capital, Salonika, played host for centuries to an assortment of Balkanic peoples. Today Salonika is home to an international film festival, where this year’s 133 selections included surveys of Greek and Portuguese film and spotlights on Claire Denis, Ildigo Enyedi, Amos Gitai, and Pedro Almodóvar. And where else can you see the entire cinematic output of Slovenia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Albania? The international competition boasted strong selections from emerging directors in Argentina, Poland, France, and Egypt. Zhang Yang’s Shower—a bittersweet, broad comedy about the proprietor of a Chinese steambath and his two sons—won the jury prize. Abbas Kiarostami accepted a special award for The Wind Will Carry Us, a luminous and richly humorous evocation of Iranian village life. The Balkan section offered numerous surprises, including Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu’s Journey to the Sun, the exquisitely sensitive and politically controversial story of a friendship between two young men—a Kurd and a Turk, from rural villages, both adrift in Istanbul. Another fine discovery was the four-film retrospective devoted to Srdjan Karanovic, a Yugoslav director who has created darkly hilarious satires of a country that no longer exists. His Film Without a Name (1988), set in Kosovo, is astonishingly prescient of the bitter conflicts to come—an Albanian-Serbian Romeo and Juliet, filled with black humor. Karanovic is currently working on a romantic comedy set among the region’s refugees—something, he told me, to lighten the heart.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 14, 1999