Among the garbage heaps of a big landfill on an imaginary Croatian island, a middle-aged man called Zoki finds a microcassette. Inexplicably puzzled by his discovery, he decides to uncover who could have made the recording, and for what purpose — using the microcassette’s label description as his sole clue.
Directed and released by Croatian artists Igor Bezinović and Ivana Pipal in 2020, Microcassette is a tribute to chance and the imagination. Against the backdrop of the stunning Adriatic sea, Zoki’s serendipitous find — as well as his strange obsession with “the smallest cassette he’s ever seen” — takes him on a quest to find its owner. Using objects and people that also seem to miraculously appear in the landfill, Zoki begins to piece together a caricature image of this mystery person’s life and loves. “Hello, I’m looking for a person named Petra. In Washington. She’s from Croatia. I know she doesn’t like squid and she doesn’t know who Leonard Cohen is, but whatever,” he says in one scene, speaking from a telephone booth. Yet the viewer is keenly aware that the story he constructs most likely never happened. Microcassette opens with the warning line: “not everything in this story is true.” Even the existence of the garbage dump in which the story takes place remains doubtful throughout.
Part-documentary, part-stop motion, part-animation, and decidedly experimental, Microcassette’s genre is difficult to pin down; it is perhaps best described as an exhilarating journey of imagination, to the upbeat music of a Balkan brass band. For viewers, it is unclear what the film is truly about: is it setting up a fantasy world, mocking viewers’ perceptions of reality, or concealing a deeper message? In the end, such questions hardly matter. The film’s mastery lies in that, in nearly 20 minutes, it succeeds in hooking the audience on a mission in which finding the microcassette’s owner is not nearly as important as continuing to explore the places where the clues can potentially take us.
Selected for the Thessaloniki Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, and others, Microcassette will now have its international online premiere at The Calvert Journal Film Festival on 28-29 October. Discover the full programme and get your tickets here.