One of the most talked-about arthouse flicks from this year was “The Tribe,” a punishing and harrowing look at institutional indifference, codes of violence, and the slippery ease with which impressionable minds can be molded into a mob mentality. And while I personally remained unconvinced of the film’s narrative merits, it’s hard to argue that it’s an appropriately agonizing and consistent vision that’s pretty much unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The story of a vicious gang of deaf and mute teenagers who run their own slice of a run-down boarding school like La Costra Nostra, “The Tribe” has been justly lauded for the audacity of its central gimmick, and has even managed to land on a handful of critics’ best-of-the-year lists. For those who dug “The Tribe” in all its artful nastiness, director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky has something else in the works: a film shot inside the exclusion zone of Chernobyl, home of history’s most notorious and destructive atomic-reactor meltdown.
The film, titled “Luxembourg,” was the recipient of the Sundance Global Filmmaking Award for Best Script. Slaboshpitskiy’s film will tell the story of a band of survivors living in a permanent nuclear winter, and how they struggle to piece the fragments of their old civilization back together in the wake of a shattering atomic conflict. The impetus comes from the director’s 2012 short film “Nuclear Waste,” so it’s not exactly the first time he has braved these dark waters. The conceit is certainly an intriguing one, one that flirts more openly with genre than “The Tribe,” although we’re sure the director will bring plenty of his own singularly dark and unpleasant fixations to what sounds like an otherwise fairly familiar set-up. Slaboshpitskiy has cryptically hinted that the film “is not about Chernobyl, but with Chernobyl.”
Even though I didn’t much care for “The Tribe” personally, there’s no denying that Slaboshpitskiy is a massive, massive talent with a bright future ahead of him. While I felt that “The Tribe” was a little too enamored with its own nihilism, the filmmaking on display was often dynamic and gripping. In other words, the guy’s nothing to sneeze at — he’s a director with formidable chops, and the prospect of him tackling similarly disturbing subject matter on a broader canvas and with more resources at his disposal certainly is an exciting one. Filming begins next month. [THR]