Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Futbal & Cinema: Eastern Europe

In the next few weeks I will be undertaking an interesting experiment in studying Eastern European football & cinema. Of course, one can't easily lump the diverse and different Eastern European countries into one easy label -- nations such as Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Romania, etc have their own unique cultures and identities. But if one looks closer, one can find some common ground in their soccer & cinema -- traditionally all these nations have been technically advanced, disciplined and tactically organized when it came to the game. And their cinema has delivered beautiful realistic films about the human condition. This may be too much of a general analysis but I do plan to dig beneath the surface.

To help in this experiment, these are the tools employed:

1) Reading Materials:

Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe, written by Jonathan Wilson

This is a well written book which looks at the history of football in various Eastern European countries along with reasons behind the present state of things.

Post new wave cinema in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe

This book examines the history of cinema in the different nations and charts how the political movements helped advance or block each country's cinema. The book is upto date only up to the late 1980's (it was published in 1989).

So far both the above books have been very useful. Each has tried to show how the communist rule and its subsequent collapse influenced soccer and cinema. I have found some overlap in both books which seems to enforce each others ideas.

In addition, I will be relaying on Double lives, second chances : the cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski by Annette Insdorf to help in getting an understanding of Kieslowski's work which I will be looking at in the Polish section.

2) Films:

One reason for picking Poland as a starting point was to finally watch Kieslowski's The Decalogue, a work that I have long overlooked. And as it turned out there was a Polish element in David Lynch's Inland Empire which I saw while in the middle of my Decalogue viewing so it seemed appropriate to kick things off with Poland.

Other nations whose films will be covered are Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia. For now, I will not be pursuing any films from Ukraine or Czech Republic. Ideally I would like to get something from Bulgaria but so far I have not found anything. And the only Romanian film that I have ever seen is The Death of Mr. Lazarescu which was my favourite film of 2006. But I don't think I will be able to see any more films from that country until the fall.

Let the viewing begin......

Following are links to the spotlight in 5 parts:

Part I -- Poland, Serbia, Romania, Hungary
Part II -- Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Bulgaria
Part III -- Ukraine, Serbia, Hungary
part IV -- Serbia, Romania, Hungary, Georgia, Russia, Czech Republic
part V -- Bosnia-Herzegovina, Former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Latvia


Pacze Moj said...

As an east European, I look forward to reading your football and cinema findings!

Edmund Yeo said...

Yeap, so how's the experiment so far?