On Tuesday night I was invited by Scotrail, Scotland’s train network, to see Michael Koch’s masterpiece Marija at the Glasgow film theatre on Rose Street as part of the 2017 Glasgow Film Festival, an annual celebration of independent cinema in Scotland’s most vibrant creative city. Watch the trailer and read my review below….
Set in Germany, featuring English, Russian, Ukrainian and Dutch language, the film is a cultural melting pot and a slap in the face to misconceptions about immigrant life.
Our Ukrainian heroine Marija overcomes situations most people would never dream of facing, with a never ending hope for a better life in her new home. It begins and ends with there walking down the street; at the start there is the back of her head, a faceless, nameless statistic, and ends with her strong, confident and face forward, leaving her amoral past behind, and finally independent.
My favourite scene was Marija being inappropriately flirted with by a sleazy old guy at a bar who bought two gin and tonics for them to drink together after offering to pay her for sex. Marija took not one but both of the drinks for herself and walked confidently away. A total #girlboss moment that I’m sure many young women can relate to.
Overall, the film was completely gripping and moved me, and my movie partner Helena, from the very beginning; a particularly relevant topic in today’s turbulent political climate. We agreed that Marija, although not particularly warm or likeable, was very inspiriing to watch, and made us re-consider some of our attitudes towards those on the outside of ‘normal’ society.
It was also brilliant to get a talk and Q&A from the director Michael Koch to get a more personal insight into the film. A passionate talent, he spoke extensively about the symbolism within the piece and his character and location choices.
I want to say a huge thank you to Scotrail, official partners of Glasgow Film Festival 2017, for inviting me to travel through to one of my favourite cities for this fantastic event, and providing brilliant Scottish snacks along the way. I hope to return for more challenging independent cinema this year and next. This year’s festival runs until the 29th February, and tickets are still available at http://glasgowfilm.org/glasgow-film-festival. I definitely recommend a visit.