The Tribe (UKR 2014, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy)

The Tribe

(UKR 2014, D: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, A: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, 130’, sign language, DCP/bluray)

As it is the case with all fine stories, the story here is conceivably simple: a teenager enters a boarding school as a recruit and has to fit into existing social structures. Director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy lets bodies speak—without words. And despite their youthfulness, they do this with frightening eloquence. They tell stories of sex and violence, of life within the limits of boarding school walls and yet inside of this, of movement outside of respected societal standards. Communication is done solely through sign language, without subtitles or any added spoken dialogue. This circumstance is necessity—for the figures are all deaf-mute people—as well as concept. By means of taking over the protagonists’ perception and world experience, spectators  participate in the perspective of a marginalized fringe group. From there, every countenance, every gesture seems to be full of attitude and emotion. The Tribe accomplishes an intriguing and stimulating viewing experience beyond all accustomed measure; the film claims the viewer to be attentive and then particularly rewards him/her for being it. In its radical consistency, this film is maybe something genuinely new, something that has not been there before. In smooth, wonderfully orchestrated cinemascope tableaus, the camera relentlessly follows the figures’ fate. A  multi-layered social drama, a disturbing study of a milieu, an audacious coup de cinéma.