Preview: Panorama Europe Spotlights New & Old Voices Alike

U.S. Editor; Los Angeles, California (@benumstead)
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As spring finally arrives in the Big Apple so do a swatch of European films that have largely gone unnoticed even on the festival circuit. Leave it to the European Union National Institutes for Culture then to say "Hey, hold up! America, we've got some flicks for ya!" And while I'm sure no one at any of those institutes actually talks like a 1930s movie gangster, that level of enthusiasm for these under-seen movies is no doubt there.

Co-presented with the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, the series that was once known as Disappearing Act returns as the simpler titled, but no less potent Panorama Europe. Starting with tonight's screening of Spain's Unit 7, the fest runs until April 13 at MoMI and the Bohemian National Hall, with features from, but not limited to: Latvia, Slovakia, Croatia, Estonia and Cyprus.

Dustin Chang has seen a few from the series and now offers up some quick takes. For the full line-up and to purchase tickers, click here for MoMi's Panorama Europe page.   

Dustin Chang contributed to this story.

SEDUCE ME (dir. Janko Mandic, Slovenia)

With cheers and a cake, Luka (Janko Mandic) moves out of a youth home where he spent the last 9 years of his life. He finds a lodging and a job at a slaughterhouse with the help of a social worker. His emotionless mother is still alive but he's not in a hurry to see her. At the job, he befriends Ajda (Nina Rakovec), a foreman's daughter who is working there because she has to pay her abusive dad back for the new car she just bought. And the foreman is none too happy about their relationship. Ajda is a thrill seeker and only wants pleasure in life which suits young Luka fine at first, but her willful disinterests in his life and background rubs him the wrong way. While she undresses him, he protests that they don't know anything about each other.

Luka has a good head on his shoulders and a good heart, and is tasting adulthood for the first time. I'm pretty sure Mandic's natural boyish presence will bring out strong paternal/maternal instincts out in the audience. Just like Antoine Doinel and many others before him, Luka makes you root for him as he struggles through life's many incongruities.

The setting of Seduce Me is not a glamorous one. Drab scenery in Ljubljana, Slovenia is seen through the windows of the bus which Luka takes to his even more depressing job. It contrasts with the beautiful forest seen from the train as Luka visits his mother. I interpret the title as Luka crying out for the life ahead of him, the lure of his future. However drab his circumstances are, we know that he is too good and earnest for it and deserves something better. It reminded me strongly of Atmen (Breathing) by Karl Markovics, from a couple of years back. They both are about a good youth trying to survive something called adulthood. Seduce Me is a beautifully written and directed feature film debut by Marko Santic. I'd love to see more from him. - Dustin Chang

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