Bulgarian filmmaker Simona Kostova taps into the societal pressures and insecurities of getting older with German indie drama Thirty. Writing, editing, and directing the project, she tells the story of five friends approaching the end of their twenties. Birthday boy Övünç, and his friends Pascal, Raha, Kara, and Henner come together in celebration, and head out into the busy streets of Berlin to mark the occasion.
Unfolding across a 24-hour period, the day-in-the-life is shot in its entirety with a tight 4:3 aspect ratio. It begins calm and composed as we’re slowly introduced to the cool, hipster characters through minimalistic long-takes. The group are named after the actors which gives a cinema verité vibe to the piece, and there’s a noticeable change of pace when they appear in the same room. The once still and static camera becomes more chaotic as the night progresses, exploring the revelling impression of the group dynamic, but also capturing contemplative moments of loneliness as each of the gang quietly have their individual crosses to bare as they near life’s next milestone.
Thirty is a profound arthouse debut from Kostova, studying the juxtaposition between the versions of ourselves we present to the outside world and the harsh reality of our inner self. In a standout scene that provides one of the rare comedic moments, Övünç is disappointed with the gift he receives. Kara bluntly tells him ‘the journey is the reward. Life is shit’. The film is a sobering yet beautifully crafted reminder of this.