[Tesnota], directed by Kantemir Balagov, Russia 2017, 118' (English friendly)
Closeness in Kantemir Balagov’s highly regarded Cannes (the FIPRESCI award at the Un Certain Regard competition) debut has a lot to do with stuffiness. And it should not come as a surprise, since we are in the boiling pot of the northern Caucasus during the late 1990s, where survival is predicated on loyalty towards “the tribe”: family and the ethnic community. Balagov looks at the Nalchik family through the eyes of a young Jewish woman, entangled in a complicated web of relationships, in the name of which she is supposed to sacrifice herself in order to save her brother. Ilana (portrayed by Darya Zhovner who nearly bursts out of the tight frames with her incredible energy) tries to escape the restrictions, seeks freedom and fights the reality while Balagov encloses the world around her like a boxing ring. The electric, sometimes brutal and controversial debut by the 27 year old heralds a new and exceptionally talented filmmaker on the rise.