The Tribe (Plemya)

The Tribe (Plemya)

  • $14.99

Attention: There are no spoken words in this film

Attention: The film contains violence and nudity

A deaf teenager struggles to fit into the boarding school system.

A deaf teenager enters a specialized boarding school where, to survive, he becomes part of a wild organization - the tribe. His love for one of the concubines will unwillingly lead him to break all the unwritten rules within the Tribe's hierarchy.

When not extorting money from other students at a boarding school for the deaf in the Ukraine, the 'tribe' of thugs in the title spend their time robbing train passengers, people in the street or, with the help of their teachers, pimp each other at a truck stop. New kid Sergey arrives and falls for one of the young hookers...which is about all the synopsis you need. There's no dialogue, or subtitles, all the communication between the characters is through sign language.

Along with a total absence of incidental music this has the paradoxical effect of heightening the sound...the sounds of footsteps, lorry engines revving for example becoming sinisterly effective. It's not difficult to follow the narrative at all, so don't be put off. The bleak surroundings of the institution combine with a dreary landscape of crumbling apartment blocks, supermarkets at night time in a bitter, dirty grey winter, to heighten the feeling of an amoral universe, a dog eat dog world where everyone is out only for themselves.

There's no compassion, the one intimate relationship which develops seems to be motivated by lust, carnality and characterised by opportunism on either part. There doesn't appear to be any real tenderness there. Is the closed institution an allegory for the Ukraine, or human societies as a whole?

The violence is sickening, stomach churning, and made all the more shocking by the use of sound and absence of music since even if averting your gaze you remain all too aware of what's happening on screen, with no music to distance or make things ironic. The Tribe forces you to gaze, unblinking, into the abyss of total human depravity.

All the actors are deaf and the film makes no use of any vocal language nor even subtitles, only sign language throughout. This may quite well be a first for a feature film of fiction. Director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky does not understand sign language and had to have interpreters on set to communicate and make sure that the actors were sticking to the script. The actors communicate in Ukranian sign language - anecdotally, users of western European sign languages may understand about 70% of it.

Cannes Film Festival Awards (2014):
- Nespresso Grand Prize
- Gan Foundation Support for Distribution Award
- France 4 Visionary Award

The France 4 Visionary Award is an independent film award given by France 4 at the Cannes Film Festival to reflect "the cinephile's passion and enthusiasm for new talent in the film industry". It was founded in 2012 and is given to one out of the seven feature films in Competition at the International Critics' Week section.

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