SXSW FILM 2016
By Don Simpson | March 17, 2016
Director: Emma Rozanski
Writer: Emma Rozanski
Starring: Adnan Omerovic, Susanna Cappellaro, Tina Keserovic
A mysterious woman, Tasya (Susanna Cappellaro), arrives in Sarajevo to visit a friend. Claiming to be amnesiac, Tasya is unsure of her friend’s apartment number. She notices Damir (Adnan Omerovic), a security guard and resident of the distinctly modern Papagajka (“The Parrot”) apartment building, and quickly ingratiates herself into Damir’s apartment.
Tasya is like a sponge, absorbing various aspects of Damir’s existence while quickly acclimating herself in the new environment. Damir, on the other hand, is rigid and inflexible; Tasya is controlling enough, however, to make Damir change.
Emma Rozanski’s Papagajka could be seen as a meditation on modern relationships, as the two characters quickly transition from strangers to roommates, becoming completely intertwined in Damir’s claustrophobic apartment. Tasya plays the dominant role in their relationship, slowly increasing her control over Damir; all the while, Damir is far too timid and apathetic to say anything to Tasya. It is Damir’s apathy that may bring about his demise.
Papagajka also seems like a comment on modern society’s reclusive tendency for people to remain within their own spaces. The few characters who appear in this film rarely communicate with each other, but when they do it seems forced and uncomfortable. They never leave the disorientingly labyrinthian apartment building, preferring to exist within its surreally constructed spaces and seemingly infinite staircases.
With cinematography (Malte Rosenfeld) that is framed with the obsessive-compulsive preciseness of Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky, Papagajka carefully examines the strange architectural phenomenon called the Papagajka, using the building’s shapes, textures and colors to inform and compliment the narrative. The Papagajka may be a communist era structure but Rozanski mutates the building into the post modernist architectural ideal of the complete, self-contained space — one in which people enter but never need to leave.
On paper, Papagajka might sound like a psychological thriller, perhaps one with science fiction undertones, but Rozanski admirably has absolutely no intentions of giving into standard genre tropes and conventions. With its relatively sleight narrative and slow-yet-precise pacing, Papagajka relies a lot upon the visual and audible elements to compliment and inform the story. Rozanski leaves a lot up to the viewer’s discretion; the more actively people experience the film, the more they will get in return. In that same vein, Papagajka will most likely require repeat viewings to truly decode its messages.