Centrul Astra Film
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Astra Film Festival

Astra Film Festival 2016


Both films in the section ''Encounters'' talk about meetings of civilizations, but in an entirely different tune. An annual pilgrimage of a large group of Hasidic Jews to a small Christian Orthodox city in Ukraine can be described as a clash between civilizations, especially when not all the pilgrims are driven by piety and the local population are instigated by far-right extremists. Luckily enough, it doesn't have to be always like this, as the second film in the section reveals by telling the story of an uncanny meeting between Vietnamese farmers and European classical music.

With ''The Dybbuk. A Tale of Wandering Soul'' award winning filmmaker , writer and academic and Krzysztof Kopczynski touches on the issue of civil rights and human rights with two clashing groups. Tens of thousand Hasidic Jews arrive in Uman, Ukraine, on an annual pilgrimage to celebrate the Jewish New Year at the grave of their holy leader. Their arrival is met with the prejudice of the locals, and the ire of the Ukrainian far-right. It is understood that the local Ukrainians want to build monuments for their heroes. But these are the same former guerrilla leaders responsible for the massacre of thousands of Jews. On the other hand, the Hasidim claim that their ancestral inheritance and human rights are at risk.  They want to enjoy the right to worship and the right to visit places of historical and religious significance for them. The film observes and discovers how the contrasting two parts meet on the same ground and  conveys the mounting tension of the oncounter.

Rather than creating a narrative, Diem Ly Vu observes in ''Violin Farmers'' the odd reality of a classical music orchestra functioning in a Vietnamese village. The orchestra came into being six decades ago and has been alive all these years because these farmers showed such a passion for art that they learned to play another civilization's music on an instrument coming from another continent. The filmmaker sets a steady rhythm for his documentary, carefully avoiding to treat the subject as a mere oddity. Instead, we get an intimate and touching slice in the daily lives of some inspiring people.

(Adina Marin)