Director: Janez Burger
Starring: Leon Lucev, Ravil Sultanov, Pauliina Räsänen, Luna Mijovic
Duration: 75 min.
A man stays alone with his children in a half demolished house in the middle of a desolate field. His wife has just been killed by a grenade in a military battle. He is expecting a new attack. Instead, a wandering caravan called Circus Fantasticus stops by the house. They bring along the dying director of the circus. Is it possible for anything beautiful to happen in a landscape of war and death? Can life go on? Is it possible to realize that death does not exist?
Silent Sonata is a film written and directed by Slovenian filmmaker Janez Burger. It premiered at the 2011 Rotterdam International Film Festival. The film was originally selected to represent Slovenia at the 84th Academy Awards, however their entry was not submitted in time so it was disqualified from the competition.
Without any dialogue and starring an international cast from a dozen different countries, Janez Burger's Silent Sonata is the tale of a family living in the middle of a war zone of some unnamed country, though presumably somewhere in Eastern Europe. It begins with the father retrieving the body of his dead wife from the field, and returning to the ramshackle house where his two children, a son and daughter await. In the dark of the night, the father armed with his long rifle watches as a strange caravan of vehicles approaches, but they are not the invading army he expects. Instead it is a traveling circus, looking for a safe place to set up their show.
It's a poetic film, with the circus representing a sort of metaphor for life, or maybe a world that carries on despite tragic events, that combines elements of fantasy and reality to tell a captivating anti-war story. There are some moments of amazing visual beauty throughout, a couple of powerfully moving sequences, in particular one scene that takes place on a beach littered with fallen soldiers, and some great displays of physical skill from the odd assortment of real life circus and acrobatic performers. However, the screenplay lacks coherence and is full of unexplained strangeness that will prevent this film from ever reaching an audience beyond the film festival and art-house crowd.
— Bonjour Tristesse