News from the Locarno Festival


Concorso internazionale




Even if we could see the modern glass buildings in the distance, a sign that almost 30 years have passed since capitalism arrived in Bulgaria, the fog reveals only the closest cement houses, and a shabby, mournful urban landscape, probably unchanged since the 1960s. This is one of the rare lacerating wide shots in a film otherwise constructed on a human scale, starting with the 4:3 format, ideal for concentrating on faces and their low gazes, particular the dark expression of the remarkable lead, Irena Ivanova, and on the connection of the human figure with space and very close relationships, unavoidably marked by violence and exploitation. Many films that tackle the hangover of the Eastern European regimes either choose a period setting for a still-short leap back in time, or narrate the misadventures brought about by a rapid updating to new values and ways of life. Godless instead gives the rare and powerful impression of managing to depict the painful legacy in the life of people who have experienced the transition, in every generation: from one who still remembers the German SS with nostalgia to another abandoned as a child in an escape across the Iron Curtain. Whether these characters are missing God, as the title suggests, or democracy, rights and morality, the world that has been left for them to live in is all too similar to their souls: grey and merciless, loaded with looming pain, but something they have become accustomed to enduring. The only attempt to break the cycle, turning to something that could resemble love, or even just a desperate attachment or need for pleasure, is doomed: God might be able to forgive, but history cannot. 


Sergio Fant

Follow us