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In an unreal age, in a landscape scarred by open-cast coal mining, people still live; old men, their faces marked by deep lines. A cosmonaut in a weather-worn boiler-suit inspects the plundered earth: future, past and present come together in Sieniawka, a film of few words. The men in the “outside world” live in the “freedom” of a zone that bears the geographical, political and film historical marks of an apocalyptic present. Other men have fled to the “inner world” of an institution, surrendering in resignation to rigid everyday routine. They wear gloomy pullovers and slippers, their soup is served in buckets, and they smoke together at the open window. But at some point summer has come and the light streaming through the birch trees is dazzlingly bright, full of promise. How real can life be in a place forgotten by history? Sieniawka is a small village in the border zone between Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, a place known for its checkpoint and local psychiatric clinic. Life on an alien planet, barely an hour’s drive from Berlin. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]

Baby Blues

Polish director Kasia Rosłaniec follows her controversial, irresistibly scrappy debut Mall Girls with this edgy and disarmingly frank look at teen pregnancy. Natalia is a 17-year-old mom living with her mother and son, Antos. She wanted to have a baby because it was a “cool” thing to do, and because she feels she has someone to love; someone who can love her in return. Everything changes when Natalia’s mother decides to move out, giving Natalia a chance to lead a “normal life.” [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

The Fourth Dimension

Created under a “manifesto” whose directives would make Lars von Trier shudder, this three-part film might look on paper like an exercise in forced hipness. Fortunately, its directors – Harmony Korine (USA), Alexsei Fedorchenko (Russia) and Jan Kwiecinski (Poland) – prove innovative and just insane enough to make The Fourth Dimension an exhilarating experiment.