The Tribe. 2014. Ukraine. Directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. 132 min.
A silent film with a difference, this entirely unprecedented tour de force was one of the must-see flashpoints at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Why? Because its entire cast is deaf and mute and the “dialogue” is strictly sign language—without subtitles. Set at a spartan boarding school for deaf and mute coeds, The Tribe follows new arrival Sergey (Grigory Fesenko), who’s immediately initiated into the institution’s hard-as-nails culture with a beating before ascending the food chain from put-upon outsider to foot soldier in a criminal gang that deals drugs and pimps out fellow students. With implacable camerawork and a stark, single-minded approach worthy of influential English director Alan Clarke, first-time feature director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy overcomes what may sound like impossible obstacles to tell a grim but uncannily immersive story of exploitation and brutality in a dog-eat-dog world, delivering a high-school movie you won’t forget. A Drafthouse Films release. DCP.