DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Tiny Lights (Svetylka)

We are invited to view the trials of a family through the eyes of their youngest member - Beata Parkanová’s inventive, thoughtful drama is in the Crystal Globe Competition of the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

QUICK AND DIRTY: LI VE FROM KARLOVY VARY

Audiences are immediately transported into an idyllic, almost timeless period. As with her 2022 film The WORD (2022), there is a focus on family and relationships. This time, however, we step into smaller shoes in order to observe them. We follow six-year-old Amálka (Mia Bankó), who wanders around her house, playing with her cat, and looking perplexed by the almost inaudible argument happening beyond a closed door. Her curiosity gets the most of her, and she finds her mother Irena (Elizaveta Maximová) being scolded by her grandmother, Eva (Veronika Žilková). Only fragments of the dispute are heard, but once it is clear her parents have big issues going on she is taken to her grandparents for the day. From there, we follow Amálka’s growth through play, exploration, and ultimately familial strife.

The focus, thematically and physically, is Bankó. Curious, fun-loving, occasionally naughty, there is something so natural about her performance in front of Parkanová’s camera that it almost feels like a well-heeled documentary. The director keeps shots mostly at her level, with adults being shown at the waist or out of shot, bringing them (and us) into her world. It’s an effective use of perspective, allowing the audience to feel every shift in emotion from the child, from giggling at her grandparents to shifting awkwardly as her grandmother bristles against her mother. Through this, we piece together what is happening, and wonder what may come in the future.

It’s not always easy. Each character is not rounded enough to be sympathetic, but in a very short amount of time you get to know everyone involved in this story. We are forced to wonder and worry whether the strain felt in both Irena and Eva’s voice will carry on a generation when the wide-eyed, giggly girl we see becomes a woman. In between these moments, surreal montages are offered, hinting at the larger picture and appearing to be shot on 8mm film. It gives this unusual family history even more dimensions, and makes for a richer experience.

Of the adult cast, Žilková has the meatiest role. She is every part the doting grandmother, making Amálka smile and having a refreshingly honest disposition, never patronising the little one. However, this also leads to moments where she forgets children are listening, leading to loaded conversations about lateness, or not setting a plate for herself at the dinner table, explaining that she is “not into food today”. These little stray threads of narrative are enticing to latch onto, and perfectly delivered by the only adult in Amálka’s life who doesn’t seem to have something else on their mind.

Many films purport to offer a child’s point of view, only to deliver something stagey and unrealistic. Merging magical elements with relatable characters, Tiny Lights feels authentically rooted in the wonder of childhood, while scattering elements of something much more complicated.

Tiny Lights just premiered in the Crystal Globe Competition of the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.


By Victoria Luxford - 05-07-2024

London-born Victoria Luxford has been a film critic and broadcaster since 2007, writing about cinema all over the world. Beginning with regional magazines and entertainment websites, she soon built up...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

Hungry for food, family and friendship?

 

Paola Christensen - 25-07-2024

Ten years later: Paola Christensen discusses what Jon Favreau's Chef says about food, family and friendship in the present day [Read More...]

Our dirty questions to Ziad and Christine

 

Victoria Luxford - 24-07-2024

Victoria Luzford interviews Ziad H. Hamzeh and Christine Handy, the director and original writer/ exec producer of Hello Beautiful, an emotionally compelling drama about successful model, her mother, and a life-changing diagnosis [Read More...]

One city, one planet, many films

 

Marina Hillquist - 23-07-2024

Marina Hillquist investigates the environmental impact of film production, and reveals how Gainesville (a city in Florida, United States) is leading the way [Read More...]