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Kiem Holijanda [Sarah Veltmeyer, Netherlands, 2017]

Kiem Holijanda follows the lives of two brothers living in a desolate town in Kosovo. At the start of the film, over the lingering image of oldest brother Florist, we hear a voice from a mobile phone organising some kind of deal involving a large sum of money. In the next scene, we see younger brother Andi selling milk to the locals. We discover early on that Andi wants to buy his own mobile phone using some of his earnings so that he can have solitary access to a sex hotline advertised on call cards he has presumably collected along his milk rounds. Until he can have his own phone Andi must share his brother’s phone, which recently Florist seems to need urgently, suggesting that he might be involved with the deal taking place at the beginning of the film.

Florist and Andi live in a poor and barren village that is significantly conducive to the boredom and frustration that the brothers experience. They live in a tiny house with their mother and grandmother and are the reluctant ‘men’ of the house, but they stick together lovingly. Each brother’s individual response to their impoverished environment is ultimately telling of their maturity and the priorities of their respective ages and one gets the sense that as they are coming of age, the things that have been keeping them together could very soon tear them apart.

Brilliant performances are given by the two central protagonists, and skilful cinematography and editing help to emphasise the characters’ resentments towards their home, whilst wonderfully capturing the warmth and delicacy of their brotherly bond.

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