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The Tribe (Plemya)
Ukraine/The Netherlands 2014

Opening 15 Oct 2015

Directed by: Miroslav Slaboshpitsky
Writing credits: Miroslav Slaboshpitsky
Principal actors: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy, Alexander Dsiadevich, Yaroslav Biletskiy

Young Sergey (Grigory Fesenko) arrives at a co-ed boarding school. He’s the new kid and slowly makes friends with a few other guys, who are nattily dressed in dress pants and jackets – no ties. The girls are nice, too. On the surface it’s just another school, except that strange activities develop in the night. The girls are transported via mini-bus to a truck-stop where their pimp knocks on the doors of the vehicles to present his “wares,” i.e., beautiful girls for a quickie. The boys spread out for neatly organized robberies and then all meet in the park to share the loot and buy drugs which they also sell. Sergey must adjust to this, as well as a first love.

What is important here is that Sergey is a new student in a school for the deaf and dumb and the film is completely in Ukrainian sign language. Still, one can “understand” every word. Imagine Yana’s abortion in perfect silence, but still we feel the pain (great performance by Yana Novikova). Imagine a violent attack in the night, which arouses not one sleeping student. The Tribe played at the 2014 Filmfest Hamburg and half of my audience in the Hamburg Metropolis cinema was also “speaking” in sign before and after (and possibly even during) the show. Director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky said that the school in the film was actually “built by German prisoners of war which is why is it still standing and in such good shape.” He said that across the street from his own school in the Ukraine was a school for the deaf and somehow he “always wanted to make a silent movie.” This is especially recommended to anyone who is curious about a film off the beaten path – something different. It is well deserving of the many, many prizes that it has won at festivals around the world, including Cannes in 2014. (Becky Tan)

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