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Catalina Review

FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project 2017 2017-10-23


Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, 2017
Director: Denijal Hasanovic
98 min.

Denijal Hasanović’s debut feature Catalina, screening in the 1-2 Competition at the 33rd Warsaw Film Festival, tells the story of an eponymous Colombian girl (Andrea Otalvaro), who after failing to extend her visa in France, moves to Sarajevo to work on a project related to the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal. She believes this study will help her get a job and legal residence at her university in Paris. In Bosnia and Herzegovina she meets interpreter Nada (Lana Barić) and her married lover Marek (Andrzej Chyra), whose lives have also been affected by wars. Denied access to the Sarajevo Mission’s archive, Catalina stays at Nada’s place, while trying to figure out her life again, and the two become friends. Just like Nada and Marek, Catalina has dealt with war in her home country and feels alienated.

Hasanović, who moved to Poland from Bosnia in the 1990s, has previously shared writing credits on Polish film Retrieval (2006) and the Icelandic drama Thicker Than Water (2006). Catalina, a Polish-Bosnian-Croatian co-production, tells a story of three emigrants, who all live with war traumas to some extent, despite coming from different countries and cultural backgrounds. All outcasts, these characters form an interesting kind of bond, helping each other out in unexpected ways. The film starts with Catalina being thoroughly checked for contraband at the airport. We feel the humiliation of the procedure. After the scene, though the audience might expect Hasanović to proceed with such overtly political issues, but he leads the story into another direction and avoids these aspects, instead concentrating on the relationships between his characters.

At one point in the film, Nada asks Catalina: “Why war crimes? Nobody’s interested in them anymore.” And Hasanović, as director, presents an involving study not so much of such crimes as their long-term consequences. However, Catalina is not a deep treatment of its subject, but a slice of an emigrant’s struggling life. Hasanović, perhaps intentionally, avoids giving the audience more context. We never fully find out Catalina’s and Marek’s backgrounds, unlike with Nada.

Newcomer Andrea Otalvaro is credible and easily arouses empathy among the viewers as naïve Catalina. But it is Lana Barić’s Nada who truly steals the movie. The Croatian actress expresses a wider range of emotions and her heroine is strong and vulnerable, rough and compassionate at the same time. The picture might have also been called Catalina and Nada, as the female characters are equally developed, and it is their relationship that lies at the core of the film and moves the story forward. Andrzej Chyra doesn’t get as much time as his colleagues but has his moments in few, but important scenes. As Nada’s mother, Serbian actress Mirjana Karanović proves once again that some actors don’t really need much screen time to demonstrate their greatness.


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FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Călin Boto is a Romanian emergent film critic and the editor-in-chief of Film Menu, a film magazine edited by students of the Film University in National University of Film and Drama in Bucharest (UNATC). He has written articles for several cultural publications such as Dilema Veche,Dissolved Magazine, SUB25 and he coordinates Film Menu’s weekly cineclub. At the moment he’s working on a bachelor's degree on the films and film criticism of Jonas Mekas.

Barbara Majsa was born and raised in Hungary, but currently resides in Sweden and attends Stockholm University for Cinema Studies. She has worked as a journalist since 2009, and has covered several film festivals. Barbara is the managing editor at Cinema Scandinavia, where she interviews film-makers and focuses her work on artistic and cultural products that reflect upon society - films concerning social, societal, economic and political issues.

Yulia Kuzischina is a film journalist, based in Moscow. She studied visual culture at Higher School of Economics and later started to write for two film-related websites, RussoRosso and Kinomania.ru. Currently she also works at a film sales company Ant!pode Sales & Distribution. Her main field of interest is Eastern European cinema.

Tomáš Hudák  is a programmer and a film critic based in Bratislava, Slovakia. Programming at independent cultural centre A4 – Space for contemporary culture, which focus on challenging and experimental art, is his main occupation throughout a year. He is also associated with IFF Cinematik in Pieštany, Bratislava IFF, and Film Festival 4 Elements in Banská Štiavnica. Regularly writing for film magazine Kinečko, his texts also appeared in other publications such as Senses of Cinema, Tess Magazine etc. In past, he worked as a film archivist at Slovak Film Institute and his archival research resulted in two papers on local film history.

Daria Badior is a film critic and a Culture Editor of LB.ua, one of Ukraine’s biggest online newspapers. Focuses on writing about contemporary Ukrainian cinema. Also she co-curates a project on LB.ua named Short-list about young Ukrainian filmmakers. Since 2017 takes part
in selecting films for Kyiv Film Critics Week, a new film festival held at the end of October. A member of FIPRESCI.

Łukasz Mańkowski Half of the Asian Cinema focused blog ‘Referat Filmowy’, Japanese Studies and Film Theory graduate from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, specializing in Asian Film. Occasionally photographer, translator and theatre-film journalist who simply loves ramen. Previously member of 5 Flavours Film Festival People’s Jury, FEFF Udine Student Campus and EIFF Student Critics Competition.

TUTORS of FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Yoana Pavlova is a Bulgarian writer, researcher, and programmer currently based in Paris.Her field of work includes cinema, VR, digital culture, and the New East. She is the foundingeditor of Festivalists.com (a playform for experimental media criticism), with bylines fornumerous print and online publications in Bulgarian, English, and French. Contributor to thefollowing books: Cinemas of Paris (2016, St Andrews Film Studies), Eastern Promises (2014,Festival Internacional de Cine de Donostia – San Sebastián), The Bulgarian Nouvelle Vague(2012, Edno).

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