Corridor #8 was an EU bureaucratic fantasy, basically a business venture to link the Black and Adriatic Seas by road through the countries of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. In the first scene a thirty-five kilometre segment of highway is opened with much pomp and circumstance but when the speeches and ribbon cutting are over, a bouquet of balloons blows in the wrong direction down the empty road. This image says everything about this non-existent road its people and places , which are actually further away than they seem. Director Boris Despodov allows the film to meander through the lives of the ordinary people on the corridor’s path, most of whom have no idea where the road is going and no reason to care. From the Bulgarian tunnel to Macedonia which has never been finished (it is used to store cheese and mushrooms) to chilling reminders of recent ethnic violence, the accumulation of stories and details make Corridor #8 both profound and delightful.
Many films at this year’s festival chronicle the demise of a rural life and this lens is much in evidence here — a passenger laments that his train line, “the most beautiful in Europe” has almost no passengers now, a shepherd moves his flock via overpass across the four lane highway. This fading away is all the more poignant juxtaposed against the many absurdities of the project and the good cheer displayed by all involved.
In the last frame we are left with an image of the Adriatic coast, just the waves lapping against the shore and an American flag laying claim to some nearby resource, and the composer of the official Corridor #8 theme song, humming his forgotten tune.
It has one more screening at the Vancity Theatre on Oct 2 at 9:30 pm.