ZIFT (Javor Gardev,2008): Bulgaria

Reviewed by Mimi Shiffman. Viewed at the 2009 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Zift goes beyond the usual jewel theft film with its highly artistic cinematography and quirky story. Cinematic parallels between the characters and their counterparts (of the same names) in the insect world are just one way director, Javor Gardev, creates a unique overall feeling to this film.

Zift (definition: ball of black resinous substance from which small chunks are bitten off for chewing gum/slang) carries us along on a suspenseful ride through the story. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, we follow Moth (just emerging from a stint in jail for a wrongful conviction) through his attempts to rejoin the flow of life in a world with new rules and corrupt cops searching for a missing diamond.

The ingenuous and artistic camera work move us through scenes as if we are in the same dimension with the characters. A skillful ending is especially delightful for gemstone fanatics.

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