Fascinating on paper and a near-stiff on execution, Martin Repka's "Return of the Storks" at first seems to be a fine addition to a growing lineup of Euro films addressing the human response to human trafficking. Mostly German in terms of style (think a milder version of the tougher tendencies in new German cinema) and Slovak in terms of subject, pic's unfocused and droopy narrative about a German gal searching out her Slovak grandmom in the sticks is a study in good ideas wasted.

Fascinating on paper and a near-stiff on execution, Martin Repka’s “Return of the Storks” at first seems to be a fine addition to a growing lineup of Euro films addressing the human response to human trafficking. Mostly German in terms of style (think a milder version of the tougher tendencies in new German cinema) and Slovak in terms of subject, pic’s unfocused and droopy narrative about a German gal searching out her Slovak grandmom in the sticks is a study in good ideas wasted. Topline fests will say no, leaving room for generally minor fests to nibble.

Fired from her flight attendant job in Frankfurt, Vanda (Katharine Lorenz) impulsively bolts from her b.f. (Florian Stetter) to journey into deepest Slovakia, to find … well, she doesn’t know exactly. This vagueness settles on the character like a veil, turning her into a mostly passive observer of characters around her, including swarthy gravedigger and human smuggler Miro (Lukas Latinak). Why Vanda is attracted to such a shady figure, considering that he’s married to an incredibly tolerant wife, is just one of the script’s innumerable problems.

Return of the Storks

Slovakia - Germany - Czech Republic

Production

A Sen Film, Stoked Film production in co-production with Hoo Doo Production and Hessischer Rundfunk (Frankfurt)/Arte. Produced by Robert Malzahn, Martin Repka. Executive producers, Jana Horakova, Sebastian Popp. Co-producer, Pavla Tomsova. Directed by Martin Repka. Screenplay, Eugen Gindl, Repka.

Crew

Camera (color), Miro Gabor; editors, Oli Weiss, Maros Slapeta; music, Johannes Repka, Matthias Raue; production designer, Palo Andrasko; costume designer, Jana Hurtigova; sound (Dolby Digital), Andre Zacher; sound designers, Ansgar Frerich, Florian Beck; supervising sound editor, Ansgar Frerich; sound re-recording mixer, Beck; stunt coordinator, Martin Hub; assistant director, Marian Tutoky; second unit camera, Radek Loukota. Reviewed on DVD, Palm Springs, Jan. 11, 2008. (In Palm Springs Film Festival -- Awards Buzz.) Original title: Navrat bocianov. Slovak, German, Russian, English dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Katharine Lorenz, Florian Stetter, Zuzana Maurery, Lukas Latinak, Kyra Mladeck, Radek Brzobohaty, Karol Csino.
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