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JOANE'S LAW

Germany, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: Dominique Faix, Dobrivoie Kerpenisan

Director/writer Dobrivoie Kerpenisan spent his childhood in a remote, rural Romanian village. Joane's Law retraces his steps on a journey to the village, and his relatives, after an absence of over twenty years.

A lot has changed over twenty years. In the past, when once a week a car drove through the village, it was a real event. Now, industrialisation, technology and the concept of Western modernisation have altered what was once an agricultural community. The film deals with the clash between an Eastern European, Socialist way of life, and Western Capitalist developments, the clash between archaic and present elements and the urban elements of civilisation. It contrasts the situations of Kerpenisan's relatives, and the other villagers, with the recent historic events in Romania.

While the film has its characters; the filmmaker; his bone-idle cousin; the family tending the baby of another cousin who has opted for work in the city and the deaf mute, Joane's Law relies heavily on the barren background and the omnipresent and bitter wind to paint the village's dismal portrait.

There is little optimism in the film; certainly none in the faces. The only forests now are those of television aerials in the cities, drawing in the Western temptations offered by satellite.

At the start of the film, Kerpenisan muses, "When I go back to Romania, I wonder if it will be for the last time?"

After seeing this documentary it wouldn't surprise us if it was.

- Winner Best German Short Film, 1993 Oberhausen Short Film Festival
- Winner Best Documentary, 1993 FFICS Tokyo

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