Real Games

Games are generally defined through agreements—rules, within the framework of which, a certain degree of freedom reigns, but also compelling constraints. Many of these conventions are not explicitly identified as such, for example, how earnest one should be, or how much inner distance to keep. And a game does not at all define the more precise (individual, social, etc.) characteristics that participants should display in order to be among the players. For that reason, it is incredibly perplexing to see the adults in Borjana Ventzislavova’s Gesellschaftsspiele / Real Games in relations of play that we generally dismiss as puerile. In clever montages with players who appear deliberately misplaced or “miscast,” the film expands five of these contexts; or rather, interlocks them in such a way that we are rendered witnesses to an uncanny alienation.  The nursery rhymes recited with a wink of the eye at the start are merely gentle harbingers of the dead serious shooting game with blowpipe arrows played by a group of sophisticated ladies and gentlemen in the concrete column foundation of a massive building shell.  No less ambiguous is the cops and robber game that adult, suit-wearing players engage in around a monumental memorial in Sofia. And another game that’s not so bad is the acrobatic Chinese jump rope enjoyed by three smartly dressed women in a closed school yard.  Entirely enigmatic, on the contrary, is a group wearing only underwear who pursue an odd ritual around a quartz lamp sculpture in the film’s sole interior space—until it turns out that what they’re doing is nothing other (or perhaps entirely different) than a simple Ring-Around-The-Rosey. The film’s transfiguration and simultaneous unmasking, has a double effect: on the one hand, as recognition that even the most casual activities are controlled by some type of role playing; and on the other—which is perhaps even more sobering—that their symbolic contexts withstand even the cleverest infiltrations. Whereby freedom and compulsion can even boil down to one and the same thing at times. And that is, no least, what the “real” aims at; uncatchable, as it were, these revealing and at the same time enigmatic games. (Christian Höller)

Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt

Orig. Title
Austria, Bulgaria
16 min
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
RG_01 (Image)
RG_02 (Image)
RG_03 (Image)
Borjana Ventzislavova
Petko Lungov
Borjana Ventzislavova
Stefan Pashaleesky, Veselin Zografov
Borjana Ventzislavova
Production Manager
Elena Radeva
Yana Krispin, Garo Ashikyan, Vladimir Mishaykov, Georgi Petrov, Doychin Kotlarov, Linda Rousseva, Martina Staneva-Antonova, Sava Bobchev
Supported by
Bundeskanzleramt, Österreichische Botschaft Sofia
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Paris - Rencontres International Paris/Berlin