unnamed 26 FNE Animated Open2020

Barbora Berezňáková's anachronistic documentary about elitist crimes in the late 1990s ofBarbora Berezňáková's anachronistic documentary about elitist crimes in the late 1990s ofSlovakia, Never Happened, considers a man’s confession against notions produced by thehegemony in the country. The director tries to draw a picture of the emotional strugglecaused by being a witness to governmental machination - the end result is remarkableexample of self-reflection.

Oskar Fegyveres, a former Slovak secret policeman, was one of the few witnesses to thekidnapping of the president’s son. After he broke his silence and was forced to leave thecountry, one of his best friends Robert Remiáš was killed by a car explosion. Remiáš wasinvolved in the kidnapping story after Fegyveres’s recognition of the crime so the Fegyveressuffers from a guilty conscience and puts charges against himself concerning events back inthe 90s.

Fegyveres leads the camera to crime scenes revealing his grief at being involved. Thedirector ridicules the hegemonic propaganda that has been spread about Fegyveres in theyears since, by asking random people in the street what they remember from the case -most of them accuse him being involved in Mafia. Berezňáková draws an image where oneof the convicted is revealed as a victim of circumstances.

Half of the footage is restored material from TV news in 90s merging with quasi-documentarystyle, which also tries to reconstruct the ambience of the period, while additional scenes in thesimple stylistics of modern documentary - and that’s what creates most anachronistic look ofthe film.

The script is confronting the points of view of random people against those who were actuallyinvolved in the crime, reconstructing with the combination of archive and modern era material,which makes the end result complex to follow. In one scene Fegyveres is remembering wherehe was hiding after his escape and this is followed by journalist’s speech of what professionwhat he wanted to choose as an adult – a naïve editing decision.

Never Happened tells a story that everybody knows happened but in a different way. It’sintriguing, confronting perceived ideas against actual facts. Every time Fegyveres is seen, thecamera is fixed on his back, which is his point of view and later on his face – his emotional state.This editing technique us self-reflective as it reveals Oskar watching himself in the mostobnoxious way and the audience becomes part of the observation.

Munich-based Ukrainian director Daria Onychenko reflects on the unbearable conditions of  the citizens of Luhansk, a Russia-occupied territory in Eastern Ukraine, with The Forgotten. The film centers on Nina (Maryna Koshkina), a Ukrainian woman whose husband is involved in a smuggling business. Wanting to leave the city, and yet unable to leave the husband, Nina undergoes a mandatory training program to convert her schoolteacher expertise into Russian. Cinematographer Erol Zubevic’s camera is fixed on Nina’s face and brings her inner world onto the screen. Her predicament worsens when she decides to help Andrii, a student who gets arrested for hanging a Ukrainian flag on the roof of the school.

The city and its institutions are systematically exploited by the Russian-backed regime. There’s a studio above Nina’s house where journalists fabricate fake news. The police are unfair and violent as they torture Maryna Koshkina’s character for getting Andrii out of prison. Russian acquaintances keep telling her Ukrainian is a farmer language. The loving affair she develops with the student is more influenced by her anger at injustice and intolerance than any real desire towards Andrii.

The Forgotten shines a light on the people nobody cares about - the forgotten people. Nina and her husband eventually make their way back to Kiev, but even there they’re refugees facing discrimination and negligence. The director asks us to face this infinite cycle of injustice making the world more and more desperate.