Capsule review: Import

Import by Bosnian-born and Amsterdam-based filmmaker Ena Sendarijevic was the winner of this year's Fiction Competition at this year's Go Short (as well as numerous other prizes and honours on the festival circuit). The film, which world-premiered in Cannes' Directors Fortnight, is a highly stylized exploration of a culture clash and feeling of alienness that a refugee Bosnian family encounters as it moves to the Netherlands during the 1990s war in their country.

The film opens with father (Mario Knezović, younger brother of acclaimed Zagreb-based actor Slaven Knezović and frontman of the popular Mostar band Zoster) playing carnival-like music on a harmonium, one of the few elements they have in their new home. Meanwhile, mother (Alena Džebo, star of the 2015 feature Sabina K. by US filmmaker Cristobal Krusen) is getting acquainted with various types of cloth she is supposed to use for various purposes as a cleaning lady in a hospital. And the pair's two small daughters go to school, where their lack of civic education will lead to them being perceived as less civilized.

Sendarijevic uses the 4:3 ratio and frames the scenes as tableux vivants, with empty or simple, one-coloured backgrounds (whether these are walls or low, grey Dutch skies), in order to amplify the feeling of alienness, insecurity, and inability to fit in that she herself must have felt when she moved to the Netherlands. It is a very accomplished short fiction film that manages to put the viewer into the shoes of the protagonists.

16 May 2017, by Vladan Petkovic