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KARLOVY VARY 2011 East of the West / Croatia

Marija’s Own have a lot of fun

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Marija’s Own have a lot of fun

Every now and then, a film comes along that festival programmers, theorists and critics find hard to classify, and which brings debate about the nature of fiction and documentary. One such film had its European premiere in the East of the West Competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Marija’s Own by Željka Sukova.

Sukova is one of three grand-daughters of Marija Violić, a Croatian woman who died in 2004. The other two are Danira (portrayed by Mila Čuljak in the film) and Nina Violić (actually a famous theatre and film actress in Croatia, known for roles in Forest Creatures [+see also:
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interview: Ivan Goran Vitez
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, Some Other Stories [+see also:
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, On the Path [+see also:
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). They have very fond, loving memories of their grandmother, whose grave still bears no inscription. They decide to organise a private party in honour of Marija, inviting her friends and neighbours. And they have a task for the guests: to design a decoration for the grave. The best design (judged by ‘Marija’s own’) will be used to decorate the tomb.

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There is also unexpected entertainment organised for the party- a band of three weird-looking youngsters with synthesizers, computers, electronic drums, clarinet and guitar. While to the guests they are just a bunch of unknown kids, audiences in Karlovy Vary will certainly recognise the famous Czech electro band, Midi Lidi. Sukova is married to Aleš Suk, a well-known young Czech film-maker who also edited the film, and who brought Midi Lidi to the Croatian seaside last year, where they played to an uncharacteristically small crowd on a beach in Marija’s hometown Rijeka.

This is one of the film-makers’ actions techniques that make the film hard to classify – in documentary theory, there are the “participatory” and “interventionist” genres, in which the film-maker not only records and manipulates reality, but also participates in its creation. Therefore, the eternal question of the nature of documentary and its relation to reality is posed, and debates on it are endless. But, to avoid long discussions, it is usually labeled as ‘docu-fiction’ or a ‘crossover’.

Whatever the genre, Marija’s Own is a delightful film with colourful characters who exchange humorous lines under the influence of red wine, stage a surrealistic “mourning session” at a garbage dump by the sea and dance to the music of Midi Lidi. The editing includes old home videos of Marija and her grand-daughters, creating a functional mix of fun and nostalgia.

The film was produced by Udruga UKUS.

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