The first gout of individualized cinema from yet another fledgling, post-bloc nation, the Slovenian flicks at BAM share a breath-down-the-neck intimacy born of tiny budgets. Janez Lapajne’s Rustling Landscapes, an improvised, precisely detailed psychodramatic dissection of a relationship’s explosion, is shot on 35mm but exudes a video-esque immediacy. The milieu is cramped and markedly middle-class, as in Bread and Milk, Jan Cvitkovic’s train-wreck dramedy about an alcoholic who returns from rehab and, once an old schoolmate admits he’d slept with the drunk’s wife years before, promptly falls off the wagon.
Hanna A.W. Slak’s Blind Spot is just as miniaturized, but the thrust is portentous neo-nihilism. This claustrophobic and incisively visualized portrait of an addictive non-recovery—till dope does us part—threatens to become a hyperbolic horror show, but finally, it’s about grief, climaxing with a Repulsion-style family snapshot. Zelimir Zilnik’s Fortress Europe takes a proto-Iranian tack, surveying the dreadful dynamic of illegal-immigrant flux as an “acted documentary.” Serving as point person for Zilnik’s camera crew, a Russian man “portrays” a border crosser stuck between Hungary’s detention camps, Slovenia’s ill-guarded perimeter, and Italy’s land of opportunity. Unfortunately, the message is simplistic, and Zilnik spends too much time examining his protagonist’s fictional dilemma.
The best film is also one of the most conventional: Saso Podgorsek’s Sweet Dreams, an Amarcord-esque yet at times brutal bildungsfilm about a reedy teenager with a delusional family, learning about sex, rock, cigarettes, and victimization in 1972, Tito-ruled Yugoslavia. The details are choice and the rhythms infectious, down to the scene in which the hero’s splenetic mother initiates a gender-combat riot by talking back to the 1965 Lana Turner version of Madame X.