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This festival embarked in the period of 15 - 24 November 2002, on the initiative of the famous Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar and Viviane Redding, nowadays vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship and in the year of 2002, member of the European Commission, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth, Media and Sports. Since than, “CINEDAYS”, evolved in a festival that celebrates European film tradition, positioning Skopje, the main capital of Macedonia as the main anchorage for true cinema loving fans. In these past nine years, with every successive edition of the festival we tried to go beyond ourselves, however, at all times, having in mind the one thriving concept: presenting to the ever hungry audience with the finest and most rewarded European film achievements. The International European film Festival “CINEDAYS” became a major film happening which promotes European cultural values and traditions, putting the key emphasis on the European cinematographic heritage, development and nurturing of cinematic culture in general, and above all, offering to the film loving audience the chance to see the latest European film achievements directed by fresh and thriving. Worthy of mentioning is the fact that “CINEDAYS” is the only festival of any character established by the famous Spanish director, and also, the only festival of European film that happens in our country.


'Eighty Letters' at Cinedays, Skopje


EIGHTY LETTERS (2011) by Czech director Václav Kadrnka is a day in the life of European bureaucracy in 1987 Czechoslovakia. While the mother of a fourteen year-old boy runs around town from one office to another, signing this paper and that, the boy joins her and watches with intrigue this dizzying official system of communist Eastern Europe. In one scene, the boy must run to the post office to get a stamp that is missing on the papers, this being one of the highest action scenes in the film; after all, it’s a day in the life of running, waiting, running, waiting bureaucracy. Where are they going to anyway? Well, the boy’s father has escaped to England and awaits them there. The mother fights for their escape and meets only one obstruction after another; but she says, ‘for every closed door, I will find an open one’.

The film is a slow pace but so is waiting for visas, and somewhere in the slowness we get a distinct feeling that things are moving; something IS happening, and fast. The boy is growing up, and all in this one day. He is confronted with hard realities which force him to come of age- the trying difficulties of escape from a then communist country to Western Europe, old age (the boy watches an old man eat an egg while patiently waiting in the official office), long bus rides to nowhere, the mother’s aging and toughened (but not broken) spirit, the drab colors of an average unsuccessful day, more waiting, more offices, lots of time to look through history books and black and white photos of a bygone era.

The mother works tirelessly to fight the system and join her husband- paperwork, new shoes, packing, even beginning nascent English lessons for her son. Are they finally leaving? No, we find out from a meeting with an English couple that the suitcase is for her husband, which she gives to the couple and they trade it for one from her husband to them. Mother and son read letters from his father on the bus through rural Czechoslovakia, panning on the countryside, which looks almost identical to the English countryside...The country they wish to escape to will look the same and yet it will be a whole new world.

The boy studies a book of maps and history and ‘Pangaea’ (symbolism for the world that was once united but now divided?). The film ends with the mother writing yet another letter, her 'eighty letters', to her husband; but as she says, ‘who knows how many more there will be?’ Will they ever make it to England?


written by Vanessa McMahon on Nov 18, 2011

OSMDESAT DOPISU (EIGHTY LETTERS) By VACLAV KADRNKA screened in the 'Official Selection' category at CINEDAYS, Skopje, Macedonia.


view trailer here: