This strange and original multi-award winner from Ukraine employs a deaf cast to enact its lacerating vision of teenage prostitution and gang war brutality in a Kiev boarding school.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Here’s a boarding school gang movie like nothing you’ve seen before. Turning tricks or terrorising the streets of Kiev by night, the teenage desperadoes in The Tribe are all residents of a school for the deaf, communicating entirely in sign language. As we watch the protagonist progress from wary outsider to brutal top dog, filmmaker Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy relies entirely on his deaf cast’s gestural language to convey visceral emotions. There are no subtitles. Everything is shot with a steely, fluid elegance. Fastidiously elaborated Steadicam set-ups keep us transfixed by every scene, from an awkward first tryst to garish explosions of retribution and pain. This is filmmaking of amazing formal confidence and power.
“There are ‘silent’ movies, and then there’s Ukrainian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s spellbinding, one-of- a-kind drama… A tour de force of expressive, explosive cinema, The Tribe has generated talk on the festival circuit since its prize-winning premiere at Cannes’ Critics’ Week last year, and with good reason. Slaboshpytskiy’s feature debut immediately bypasses any suggestion of gimmickry and goes straight for the jugular, presenting a Lord of the Flies-like world of social Darwinism that’s as brutal as it is strangely beautiful. It’s proof that you don’t need the sound of characters speaking to make a masterpiece – you simply need vision.” — David Fear, San Francisco International Film Festival