Stranger says: Odessa, October 1941: Invaders from Germany and their Romanian allies crush the Red Army’s defenses and murder the Jewish population of the city. According to the director of this dead-serious black comedy, Romania only officially acknowledged its complicity with Germany as a condition for joining the EU in the 2000s, and the average Romanian doesn’t want to talk or hear about it. This film follows the Romanian director of an increasingly fraught reenactment of the Odessa massacre. She confronts her own amateur actors and crew’s indignant nationalism, specious historical mansplaining, and even Holocaust denialism. Barbarians may be one of the more intellectually daunting movies at SIFF this year, with its single-take scenes, philosophical references, and meta approach. But it is, unfortunately, relevant and necessary viewing. (JOULE ZELMAN)
SIFF says: Grappling with questions of history, violence, nationalism, and art, an ambitious young theater director faces censorship when she attempts to stage a reenactment of the 1941 Odessa Massacre.