Facing Mirrors

Daniel Mandić of the 2013 Talent Press Sarajevo reviews the short film MORNING PRAYERS, directed by Konstantina Kotzamani and Katarina Stanković.

Konstantina Kotzamani's and Katarina Stanković's MORNING PRAYERS

MORNING PRAYERS is a short fiction film made within the Sarajevo City of Film project, which seeks to discover and promote authors from the "young" regional film scene.

The film is about a boy and a girl (Ismir Gagula and Hana Pašić) who meet in a nightclub, take drugs, and after aimlessly roaming through the streets of a city go to the girl's flat – only to encounter a dying old man (Serafedin Redžepov) in a bathtub.

Giorgos Karvelas's cinematography masterfully supports the screenplay, creating a seductively thick atmosphere of the subconscious and the surreal, combining elements of film-noir, mystery and horror. The entire short presents a good example of an amalgamation of expressive style and substance – a challenging task for many young and ambitious filmmakers.

MORNING PRAYERS can be viewed as a coming-of-age film, which focuses on a crucial episode in the young man's life; he seems, like many other youngsters, to be tangled up in a downward spiral of nightclubbing and drug abuse; the lonely wandering through the city's streets indicates his isolation – convincingly performed by Ismir Gagula and enhanced through a skilful combination of subjective and objective camera takes, which point out his perspective.

The film's central event – the old man's death – could be seen as a complex symbol that shapes the whole narrative as a story about life – described as the journey of the main character from youthful irresponsibility to real life facts, through an ultimate transformation. The boy, faced with the old man dying in the bath, struggles to pull him out and ultimately fails due to the slippery body's weight, until the girl asks him to leave it. This event indicates the boy's first profound encounter with death, while the whole experience receives ritual and symbolic meaning with the Morning Prayers and the sunrise occurring.

The transition between the three parts of the story is always accompanied by the motif of water, with the first two parts leading to the climatic third, perfectly attuned to the colorfully blurrish and hallucinatory imagery of the previous parts – after which the approach changes drastically, taking us toward the film’s conclusion. The very last shot, when a cyclist falls from his bike while he rides through one of the building's hallways, may suggest the additional message that even if you fall, getting up and keeping going are the only things that matter.