The Shutka Book of Records (2005)

On the first Wednesday night of each month I’m at the Bloor Theatre for Doc Soup — a monthly film series that is part of Hot Docs (documentary film festival). Last night’s screening was an unusual film from Czech Republic called The Shutka Book of Records (2005).


The film is a crazy look at the ‘Happy Valley’ in Macedonia — the largest Roma (Gypsy) community in the world. This is a world that is full of bizarre characters that pass the time by ridding themselves of evil Genies, vampire hunting, training geese to fight and holding listening contests to see who has the best collection of Turkish music on cassette.

The film is supposed to be an honest look at the Gypsy culture. It shows an impoverished group of people that are proud of their heritage but I found myself skeptical of everything in the film. The Shutka Book of Records is more of a comedy like Borat (2006) than a serious documentary. I’m willing to bet that Sacha Baron Cohen saw The Shutka Book of Records and used it as an inspiration for the film version of his Borat character.

Shutka director Aleksandar Manic has plenty of funny bits about a crazy disco dancing senior citizen (pictured above), a uni-brow pop star with cheesy music videos, a transvestite, a ‘Belgian whore’ that has a child with a 70-year-old man and on, and on. The film’s narrator is constantly making funny remarks and observations about the people of Shutka so that they look more backward than the people of Kazakhstan in Cohen’s film.

I don’t know. Parts of the film were very funny but after a while I found these crazy characters (or actors) to be a little boring. Apparently the film is quite popular on the film festival circuit and has quite a following. Unfortunately, it didn’t appeal to me at all. *½

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in Movie Reviews at 11:07 AM