QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM THE TALLINN BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL
Shortly before the break of the Kosovo War in the 1990s, four young and naive male actors wish to travel to Tirana in order to perform at a prestigious festival. Their play is some sort of burlesque Monty Python. They hear that Michael Palin himself is in Albania filming his latest documentary series. This could be the opportunity of their lives: they could both make it big and also meet in person the very person who inspired their play.
The journey is far from simple and straightforward. Despite having an official invitation, Kosovo has now become no man’s land, and they have to contend with menacing and violent Serbian oppressors until they reach the river that separates Kosovo from Albania. They make their crossing on a precarious fuel-smuggler’s dinghy. Upon reaching the Albanian side, they need to get to Tirana. They believe that their brotherly Albanians – unlike Serbians – will be very supportive of their mission, but they encounter a number of unexpected barriers, including thieving thugs and corrupt police officers. They are forced to give out the little money that they possess, and eventually end up in jail.
Their luck eventually turns. The police release the four artists upon making phone calls, speaking to the Minister of Culture and confirming that their invitation is genuine. They finally reach Tirana, where they encounter yet more challenges. Their performance has not been advertised because they failed to send a confirmation to the festival organisers. Yet, they might find a solution. After all, where there is a will there is a way.
The four young actors are very sweet and charming. Adorable dreamers. But they are also inexperienced and vulnerable travellers. They epitomise both artistic resilience and foolishness. But will their gamble pay off? Will they successfully represent their troubled home nation in a foreign country? Might they even win a prize? Is there a chance that will they meet their elusive English idol? Could a mysterious man wearing hat and shades and quietly watching the foursome be Michael Palin in disguise?
This Kosovan/Albanian/North Macedonian production is a lighthearted and conventional comedy of errors. It’s about artistic expression as a tool for personal and political liberation. It’s urgent in its simplicity, spiced with political flavours, prescient messages and moral dilemmas. Should the four man return to Kosovo before the war breaks and fight for their country’s freedom, or should they remain in Albania, where they can get their message across through their art?
The Flying Circus is showing in Competition at the 23rd Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. DMovies is live at the event.