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Tuesday 9 August 2011

Nesvatbov (Matchmaking Mayor)

'Matchmaking Mayor' is a documentary by Czech director Erika Hníková, about a small community in Zemplínske Hámre, Slovakia. Jozef Gajdoš, the village-Mayor, is obsessed, to the point of near psychotic obsession, with the fact that the village is dying out because the residents are not marrying and having children. He takes things into his own hands, by preaching to the residents over the public PA system and by offering generous cash incentives for all couples who marry and have babies.

The plot is crazy, impossible to believe - which is all the more mad because it's completely true. In many ways, the film is wildly hilarious -- yet, underneath the humour and strangeness is a sadness. The characters in the film are alone. As much as the mayor tries to bring them together, the film is punctuated by shots of men and women choosing to not interact with each other. Perhaps the characters are fearful, perhaps they're content -- it's hard to say. The interesting thing is that, behind the fascinating characters and unusual social rituals, there are universal themes and patterns that nearly all of us can relate to.

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