SXSW Film Review: Papagajka

Posted in Film, Reviews, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 17 Mar 2016

In a bizarre apartment building somewhere in Sarajevo, Damir (Omerovic) provides unesseccary security for a block seemingly populated by only a handful of people, himself included. Passing the time with pointless patrols and games of noughts and crosses against… himself, when a mysterious women (Cappellaro) walks into the building, he’s caught in disbelief.

Too shy to make contact, instead the woman accosts Damir, proclaiming she was robbed and needs a place to stay for the night after losing the address of her friends in town. Reluctantly Damir accepts, but when one night turns to two, to three, to a week, and soon he slowly finds all aspects of his life under her control.

A graduate of Bela Tarr’s Sarajevo film school, Emma Rozanski’s debut feature is a bizarre and compelling tale of hospitality through inaction. A low-key, ethereal drama, the narrative is fairly light meaning Rozanski tells much of the story beneath the surface. There are clues as to where to draw meaning, but the director leaves it up to your to make a choice, filling in the blanks for your own take on the almost supernatural progression.

Papagajka contains little suspense, and yet the unerring atmosphere will leave you feeling uncomfortable for some time after you leave the theatre. So-called ‘slow cinema’, there are undoubtedly moments when you want to shake the film into life. Like a hazy dream, this is a movie where the audience has to do a lot of the leg work, and that won’t be for all. However, Papagajka is much more than just a curiosity, and both leads put in bizarr e and affecting turns. If you can turn off to the outside world for 82 minutes, Papagajka will reward your investment, though spoiler warning, the reward’s a little weird.


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