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Welcome to Karastan

Welcome to Karastan

Deutschland/Großbritannien/Georgien 2014 - with Matthew MacFadyen, Myanna Buring, Noah Taylor, Richard van Weyden ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:Welcome to Karastan
Genre:Comedy, Tragicomedy
Direction:Ben Hopkins
Cinema release:21.05.2015
Production country:Deutschland/Großbritannien/Georgien 2014
Running time:Approx. 99 min.
Rated:Age 12+

Once Emil Forester (Matthew MacFadyen) was a celebrated director who even won an Oscar for one of his short films. But the big fame has failed to materialize and the failure of his last works has plunged the ambitious filmmaker into a deep creative crisis. When he is invited to the newly founded Caucasus republic of Karastan to present his work at a film festival there, this change of pace comes at just the right time for the frustrated filmmaker. When he finally arrives safely in Karastan after a few complications, President Abashiliev (Richard Van Weyden) makes him a tremendously tempting offer: he is to make a monumental work about the country, with an unlimited budget, thousands of extras, big battle scenes and with Hollywood star Xan Butler (Noah Taylor) in the leading role. At first, Emil is convinced that this film is exactly what he needs to save his career. But the longer he works on it, the more he begins to have doubts about the wisdom of his decision. The many problems on the set, the airs and graces of the eccentric leading man and the seductive attraction of Abashiliev's assistant Chulpan (Myanna Buring) seem to cloud Emil's mind completely. And so he doesn't realize that he soon has to fight for his ehr much more than for the successful completion of the shooting...

Welcome to Karastan is a biting satire about politics, propaganda and the movie business. What happens when big egos clash, when artistic ambitions cloud one's view of reality, and when the people rise up against a powerful despot is what director Ben Hopkins tries to show with a mixture of humour and melancholic drama. The film was shot in Georgia, but Hopkins also found a suitable location in Frankfurt: the Orfeo's Erben cinema was unceremoniously transformed into the private screening room of President Abashiliev, who is portrayed by Frankfurt actor Richard Van Weyden. During the shoot at Orfeo, Matthew MacFadyen told us that he was excited about the film's story, saying that it would work brilliantly not only as a political satire, but also as a comedy about the movie business.

Unfortunately, after seeing the finished film, we can only agree with this to a limited extent. There are some moments that are filled with whimsy and biting wit. Emil's arrival in Karastan, for instance, perfectly reveals the satirical potential of the story. The first moments at the film festival also go in this direction. But then again, there are other aspects that are either too overdrawn - such as Hollywood star Xan Butler's character - or simply depressing in their dreary seriousness. It's really not a negative thing that even a comedy tries to show serious sides and thus build up a certain profundity. But here the discrepancy between the quieter moments, the satirical scenes and the somewhat exaggerated silliness is just too big, so that simply no coherent overall picture wants to arise.

There are enough quite wonderful moments that make Welcome to Karastan, despite some lengths, quite worth seeing for lovers of small arthouse satires. But it also unfortunately becomes clear time and again that a much better film could have been made here, one that would have had the makings of a cult film with even more wicked humor, a bit more pace and a bit more of a coherent underlying tone. But as it is, the whole thing is a nice, but also a bit half-baked affair. And in the end that's only enough for one: Worth seeing with reservations

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


  • Welcome to Karastan
  • Welcome to Karastan
  • Welcome to Karastan
  • Welcome to Karastan
  • Welcome to Karastan
  • Welcome to Karastan
Cinema trailer for the movie "Welcome to Karastan (Deutschland/Großbritannien/Georgien 2014)"
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