Europe is bracing itself for another battle between the economic elite and advocators of national resentment. Only a month after Viktor Orban conjured that same conflict by attacking George Soros through his Central European University, implicating uninvolved academics in the process, the next showdown is to take place in the second round of the French presidential elections. The fact that this most recent battle is set in Western Europe, rather than Hungary or Poland, not only reminds us that the sobering experiences Eastern Europeans have made since the fall of the iron curtain are no longer foreign to the British, French and German. It also signals that many of the democratic processes Western Europeans support in the East are failing in their backyards. The West is waking up to its own backwardness, and to its inability to address the concerns of ordinary people. For a journal concerned with Eastern Europe – an Other for many of our readers – this is an insight worth repeating so as to avoid the impression that we are trying to commit an act of moral colonialism. The issues we address in the East from a predominantly Western perspective are ones we fight with in our daily lives.
A sensibility for such universalism is revealed by two of the films we covered for this month’s issue. Though obviously entrenched in the post-Yugoslav context, All Cities of the North addresses the general issue of cohabitation through a subtle allegory. And György Pálfi’s Free Fall from 2014 is similarly marked by its national context while also meditating about consumerism and the post-Socialist transition.
Our April issue also features our coverage of Czech Cinema Now!, the Czech focus of this year’s goEast film festival in Wiesbaden. Among that coverage are reviews of Filthy, Tereza Nvotová’s portrayal of a rape and its dramatic effects on the victim, The Teacher about a Communist-era teacher and her dirty schemes, and Olmo Omerzu’s Family Film, in which a couple spontaneously decide to leave their children behind.
We hope you enjoy our reads.
Konstanty Kuzma & Moritz Pfeifer