By Azim Butt and Tereza Neuwirthová.
Over the first weekend of October, the embassies of the Visegrad Four countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland – organised an online film festival under the theme: “Relationships Under Communism and After 40 Years of Solidarity.” During the two-day online screening, each V4 member was represented by a movie portraying life in the respective country during the period of communism. The movies selected by the embassies were 80 milionów (Poland), The Cellar (Slovakia), Csinibaba/Dollybirds (Hungary), and Cosy Dens/Pelíšky (Czech Republic).
Cosy Dens/ Pelíšky:
The film presented by the embassy of Czech Republic was a bittersweet comedy set in the period of time preceding the 1968 Prague Spring. This popular family movie tells a story about the mixed fortunes of three interwoven families, underlined by an ideological and generational ire, as well as situational misunderstandings, daily struggles and political jokes. The engaging and amusing portrayal of the people’s perceptions of the communist rule and the rival “western imperial capitalism,” as well as the societal tensions building up during the year 1967, this movie is a telling depiction of the atmosphere of betrayal that the citizens of Czechoslovakia felt in this period. The families of Cosy Dens embody the archetypal attitudes of both camps, as the main characters come from the state sphere but also the “opposition”. The movie ends with the unexpected invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops, which destroyed the political hopes of many while establishing a strict normalisation regime under the Soviet control. The movie Cosy Dens offers an immensely accurate and significant display of the Czechoslovak reality under the communist rule, and hence the inclusion of this particular feature in the online film festival unequivocally contributed to underlining the main message of solidarity-building among the countries of the Visegrad 4.
Following up, the second film presented by the Embassy of Slovak, The Cellar, describes Milan Labat, a Musician father in search of his lost daughter from a kidnapping. Interestingly, the beginning of the film already suggests a complication between Milan’s marriage with Tana. Shortly after the abduction, it seems as if Milan and Tana’s marriage were crumbling to an end. However, through the process of searching for their daughter, the display of love, affection, and kindness between the two characters help redefine their initially troublesome marriage.
Moreover, as the film progresses, it invites you to consider the dilemma faced by the protagonists. As a father who loves his child and is responsible for her mother, in such a predicament, what should he do? Are there circumstances where one can go above the law? Under moments of despair? Or in seeking justice for a loved one? While an abduction might be uncommon, but emotions such as despair and drive to seek justice are paralleled in many everyday decisions. The film makes a convincing case, provoking the observer in making their way of value judgment.