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Valan and the Damsel in Distress

FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project 2019 2019-10-17
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Valan’s pulpy policier world slowly turns exploitative towards its characters while following the formulaic story of Péter, a strong-willed cop caught in a difficult sex trafficking investigation in Brasov.

A series of flashbacks in a typical school in Romania during the Revolution in 1989 announce that Péter’s sister has disappeared in the chaos of the insurgencies. Indelicately, Bagota employs these traumatic memories of losing a sibling to make sure the viewer clearly understands Péter’s ensuing motives of getting involved in cases of kidnapping and human trafficking – a way to cope with his sister’s abduction and potential death by trying to save other women’s lives. While Péter’s uncle, János (András Hatházi), owns a suicide hotline through which he helps numerous women, the director only chooses to display the clichés of such an environment – showing for instance János emphatically answering the phone while grabbing a bible and praying for the unfortunate damsel in distress. Péter’s aunt, Kati, suffers from Alzheimer’s  but in the film’s ultra-structured convention, her character doesn’t have a specific role, besides adding a sprinkle of unnecessary drama. The way Valan oversimplifies issues like Alzheimer’s disease and suicidal tendencies is without a doubt problematic.

Ultimately, Valan is very reminiscent of Porumboiu’s La Gomera – another exploitation policier film with, fortunately, more self-aware ambitions – which actually pokes fun at its own genre and yet keeps a lid on its ironic perspective. While La Gomera seems to never take itself too seriously, Valan expects viewers to accept a story of women in constant need of saving, be it by the alpha male cop or the villain himself.

Read 351 times Last modified on 2019-10-18

FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Lemana Filandra2Lemana Filandra is a writer and editor at "Klifhenger" (www.klifhenger.com), a site dedicated to movie analyses in Bosnian and English. She has been working as a freelance writer, a researcher, and a translator for the last three years. Currently, She is working on a PhD thesis in philosophy, focused on intersectional feminism and political implications of the concept of body. In the past she had different professional engagements at Sarajevo Film Festival, one of the most prominent European festivals. She also worked as a producer of a music video, a script supervisor and an assistant to a movie director.

Levan Tskhovrebadze2Levan Tskhovrebadze is a student of film studies in Ilia State University, Georgia. He has written and made other kind of journalistic content for Georgian outlets like Indigo, Cinemania.ge or Demo.ge. Recently he started working for Ilia State University online publication Cinexpress.iliauni.edu.ge where he writes reviews, articles and also translates some of the important articles or interviews about cinema into Georgian. He has covered few festivals as a film critic. He was doing video blogs for Berlin International Film Festival 2019th edition and has made some content at CinéDOC-Tbilisi and Batumi International Art-House Film Festival. Cinexpress is also the Ilia State University’s Film Club where he made public reports before screenings.

Oleksandra Povoroznyk2Oleksandra Povoroznyk is a film critic and journalist based in Kyiv, Ukraine. She is currently working for Vertigo.com.ua, one of the largest Ukrainian websites devoted to the film industry and entertainment in general. She is also the host of two podcasts about movies and TV.

Denisa Jašová2Denisa Jašová is a PhD student of Audiovisual Studies at Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. As a Film Studies and Archival Science graduate, she specializes on archival research in film and TV history, especially on Czechoslovak amateur film and TV non-fiction programmes from 70s and 80s. She also works as a researcher for TV documentaries, as a librarian in the Central European House of Photography and as a talk show host in student radio talk show called Cinefil. She frequently writes for magazine Film.sk, IFF Cinematik Piešťany and her first paper about the history of Slovak amateur film will be released in October 2019 in Kino-Ikon magazine. She simply loves film archives.

Bogdan Balla2Bogdan Balla is a Romanian experimental film director and freelance film critic based in Bucharest. He studies film directing at the National University of Theatre and Film and writes for FILM MENU. Besides directing and producing his own films, he also works as an independent freelance film critic. He reads bell hooks and is passionate about queer cinema. He has a preference for working with archival footage for his films.

Svetlana Semenchuk2Svetlana Semenchuk is an author of such publications on cinema as “Seanse”, “The Art of Cinema”, “Cinema TV” and other. The author-composer of the books “S. M. Eisenstein: pro et contra: Sergey Eisenstein in national reflection: anthology” and “E. F. Bauer: pro et contra. Eugene Frantsevich Bauer in assessments of contemporaries, colleagues, researchers, film critics. Anthology”. Teacher of the St. Petersburg New Cinema School, and at the St. Petersburg State University of Cinema and Television.

TUTORS of FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

amber wilkinson2Amber Wilkinson  is a journalist with more than 20 years experience. She is the co-founder and editorial director of UK-based website Eye For Film. Her byline has appeared in The Times, Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and Filmmaker Magazine among others. She also contributes as a freelance film critic on BBC Radio Scotland. She has run several FIPRESCI young critics' workshops and mentored student critics at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2018 and 2019.

TommasoTommaso Tocci is based in Italy, where he works as a film critic and translator covering film festivals across Europe for international publications. He has also worked for Berlinale Talents and for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and he currently serves as Co-Programmer for the Saas-Fee Film Festival in Switzerland.