Spiral by Cecília Felméri is a film that elopes strict genre frames. A poetic portrait of an old house by a forest pond, somewhere in the Hungarian wilderness, gives space to enter into the depths of not only the elements of nature – earth, water and fire – but also into the minds of heroes torn by life doubts and emotions pulsating just under the skin, at the tip of the tongue. A full-of-regrets story about the crisis of relationship is brutally cut short by a personal tragedy, and the drama is echoed by a disturbing atmosphere of a beautiful, albeit sad place, as well as omnipresent loneliness, alienation and lack of communication.

We know that Bence (Bogdan Dumitrche) and Janka (Diána Magdolna Kiss) are going through a crisis of relationship from the moment they appear on the screen. Although – mirroring the charming neighborhood they live – there is silence between them. It is a silence full of tension and dissatisfaction. Bence would like to build a quiet life in a forest corner, Janka would rather start working at school. What's more, the nature around the characters seems to react to the amount of internal friction and animosity. More and more fish in the pond are dying, and the reason for this micro-ecological collapse is a secret from even Bence, who in the past worked as a school biologist. Just like the aggressive catfish that the protagonist will put into the pond – following the advice of a friend – to move the fossilized system of flora and fauna, in the life of the couple will come changes that will move and break their ecosystem.

The director guides her characters sparingly, consciously using the natural setting, slowly enjoying the silence, the self-building atmosphere and going deeper and deeper into the center of psychology. Dumitrche's gloomy performance is charismatic – flashes of carefully hidden emotions work much more effectively than if these emotions were to come to the fore in one big burst.

Spiral focuses on male tragedy – which is particularly interesting as the film was written and shot by a woman. Felméri does not judge, but simply watches. She does not evaluate any of the attitudes – not when Bence seems deaf to his partner's mute voice about the need for independence or when he breaks down, abandoning all responsibilities and drowning in his own sense of guilt.

A place that was supposed to be almost magical ceases to be coherent. There are too many repetitions of metaphors – dead animals, birds trying to fly home, dead fish, changing seasons, etc. – which slowly turns the film from poetic subtlety into repetitive roughness. It is a pity that due to the number of metaphors there was not enough room for a non-male perspective.

The images captured by György Réder harmonize well with the characters' emotions and create a unique atmosphere of a quiet, lonely place away from civilization. It is the visual layer that makes the film – despite the overwhelmingly dark subject matter – easy to watch.

Spiral, as the director's full-length debut, presents itself as a mature work, which shows the author's developing style. And although it is not without its drawbacks, it should be remembered that in ecosystems – especially creative ecosystems – achieving the right balance is a time-consuming process and requires delicacy. Nobody wants to end up in a spiral.

Scumbag, by Slovak filmmakers Rudolf Biermann and Mariana Čengel Solčanská, is a solid political drama that takes no prisoners. Although their story has a documentary flair, addressing the real tragedy of the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and adapting a book by Árpád Soltész, Biermann and Solčanská are drawn to themes of power and corruption in a universal way, without claiming any right to the truth.

The new prime minister, Bobo (Marko Igonda), quickly realizes that his associates are carrying out illegal business projects, sexually abusing underage girls, drowning in drugs and alcohol. When the first shock has passed, vomited with doubts straight into the lake, the head of state has no choice but to become part of this group.

We come across a chess board, on which all the pieces have already been placed and all orders have been given. Despite an unexpected, late transition from political drama to a reporter's investigation, Scumbag lacks a proper exposition of political heroes and the complexity of their intentions and actions, which leaves it to deal mostly with conspiracy theories. Even a daring genre shift fails to have a narrative meaning.

We end up with the same thought we started with – politics means rolling in the mud, and everyone has to get dirty. Scumbag is accompanied by the impression that not only is the plot inevitably coming to a dead end, but politics itself might be a trap with no way out.