Eastern European Documentaries: Czechoslovakia and the USSR

Three fascinating examples of recent filmmaking in Eastern Europe (all completed in 1990) that tell us something about what it’s like to live there now. (If we had world news on TV that was worthy of the name, this is the sort of work we’d see every week.) Drahomira Vihanova’s Czech The Metamorphosis of My Friend Eva presents a striking emotional portrait of an aging, alcoholic jazz singer who was unable to perform under the communist regime. Jan Spata’s Czech Between Darkness and Light chronicles the return of Spata, a photographer, to his hometown after many years; it cuts freely between color footage and black-and-white stills, and its depictions of rural life are equally free ranging. Alexy Chanyutin’s feature-length DMB from the former Soviet Union, which I only sampled, is a beautifully shot portrait of life in the Soviet army among soldiers just back from Afghanistan–more generally it’s a highly suggestive look at life and problems in the former Soviet Union. To be presented on video in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute’s filmmaking department. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, June 21, 4:00, 443-3737)

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