© Rapid Eye Movies/Real Fiction

Poland/Italy 2022

Opening 22 Dec 2022

Directed by: Jerzy Skolimowski
Writing credits: Ewa Piaskowska, Jerzy Skolimowski
Principal actors: Sandra Drzymalska, Isabelle Huppert, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Tomasz Organek

A red strobe light repeatedly fires off all its brilliances while illuminating a young circus performer, Kasandra (Sandra Dzymalasky) and her beloved donkey EO. The opening scene symbolizes the love that this young woman has for her donkey which will be short lived. It is also interesting to see that it is these very strobe lighting effects that instigated the theater to announce a warning to the viewers of a possibility of epileptic seizures and are not responsible for the outcome. It was a surprising first for me to see such precaution taken from a cinema to protect itself from a possible lawsuit. With that in mind, we jumped into a visual odyssey of extremes seen from the point of view of EO. Inspired by Robert Bresson's 1966 film Au hasard Balthazar, this film premiered and won the Jury Prize in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022 and has taken the film festival scene by storm, winning award after award and has now been shortlisted for the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film for 2023.

Although the film is both visually poetic and emotional, it deals with a very serious subject matter: animal rights. We witness the agonizing journey where EO, longing to be with Kasandra, has been forced to see an ever-changing horizon. The film truly shows us human beings as self-centered creatures even if we may have good intentions; the results are never what we expect. Micheal Dymek’s cinematography explores many different dimensions using experimental techniques to portray the emotions and vision of a donkey. The majestic sounds bring the landscapes alive whether we are watching a moonlit night with wolves or a fire red forest penetrating into our minds. It’s clear that EO has all the right qualities of becoming a classic despite the hazardous health warnings from the cinema. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

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