Future Frames 2017 Review: Atlantis, 2003

Immigration has been a prevalent theme in the short film world over the past few years. From the stark reality unveiled by Morgan Knibbe’s Shipwreck to Jens Assur’s beautiful shot yet utterly raw A Society to Daniel Mulloy’s cleverly devastating Home, there have been a vein of powerful and popular films that have reflected one of the most important issues of modern times. In Atlantis, 2003 Michal Blaško continues examining these prevalent themes but moves the focus back more than a decade. He finds that the situation has not changed as much as we might think.

In 2003 and Slovakia is yet to become part of the Schengen area. Martin and Denisija are a Ukrainian couple who dream of escaping to a better life in Germany. Soon it looks like their dream will become a reality as they prepare to undertake a dangerous journey across the Ukrainian / Slovakian border. But their dreams and aspirations as a couple keep them positive and it seems that everything will turn our OK. But what will people really do to achieve their dreams? And what predators await to take advantage of them?

Atlantis, 2003 takes on the naturalistic hue that is typically associated with films following the subject of immigration. From the opening shots – Denisija cautiously yet excitedly talking on a mobile phone to tell people about her imminent arrival in Germany – there’s an air of nervous energy as the frame shakes, never quite holding still. But, as they move into the dangers of the border, there’s also a suffusion of the dreamlike.

Certainly, the film falls between two camps: there’s the raw intimacy of the excitement and nervousness in the relationship between Martin and Denisija alongside the tensions of a thriller. As the film reaches its conclusion the, the rug out is somewhat pulled out from the audience making it a much more bitter and cruel piece of work. A reflection of the reality that many people faced, it’s perhaps the ending of the film that ties everything together.

Performances are excellent, with Elizaveta Maximová and Levan Mania bringing some good chemistry to their relationship while also managing to give the sense of desperation that would drive people to unspeakable things.

Blaško is a student at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) and Atlantis, 2003 has already had an impressive profile over the past month. The film had its premiere as part of Cinefondation 2017 at Cannes and is now screening EFP’s Future Frames at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. With this impressive selection of A-List festivals behind it – and following a theme that is very much an important one in the short film world – then plenty more showings over the following months should be very likely indeed. The film is repped by New Europe Film Sales.

You can read an interview with Michal Blaško HERE

Film Information
Original Title: Atlantída, 2003
English Title: Atlantis, 2033
Director: Michal Blaško
Country: Slovak Republic / Czech Republic
Year: 2017
Run Time: 30 mins
Contact: New Europe Film Sales, jan@neweuropefilmsales.com


04 July 2017, by Laurence Boyce