K-15 New Year's Special 2003
From the hundreds of sketches and short films created by the K-15 crew, I believe their 2003 New Year’s Special stands out most because of how well it integrates a genuine tale of hardship with political satire. What I find appealing is how it tackles the theme without compromising the narrative. While many fall in the pit of over-politicizing and lacking relatable characters and goals, K-15’s New Year’s 2003 film avoids this by respecting the importance of an easy to follow story.
Tosho, the president of the house council wants to gather the tenants so they may celebrate the new year together, but each of them attempts to weasel out of it.
The supporting characters, all of whom are obstacles in Tosho’s path to achieving his goal, double as the stereotypical portrayals of people living in Macedonia. Each with their own strict set of rules and narrow worldview, they quickly cast aside Tosho’s suggestion and promote their own agendas, whether they be promoting their political parties or just expressing the malcontent towards the other tenants. The characters’ idiosyncrasies are also worth mentioning. Their distinctiveness between one another provides an element of uniqueness which helps make every character memorable. Although it lends itself more to the satire at hand, it is inevitable that well thought out characters provide a stronger backbone to any film. Every one of them seems so realistic because they follow an archetype complete with intrinsic values and a hidden drive.
No matter how hard Tosho tries, the tenants’ petty problems and squabbles are too much for them to put aside their differences and celebrate together as neighbors and friends. As Tosho learns, one cannot force friendship, which is why they end up celebrating together because of a power outage, ironically calling out Tosho and his lack of effort to organize a get-together. It is a solid satire at first glance, but at its heart it is about how an idea of happiness can be twisted by one’s surroundings.
There is no debate over the success of the comedic aspect. Despite much of the humor being understandable only by the Macedonian populace, a foreign audience would only miss out on the political satire while being able to enjoy the main storyline. However, K-15’s spot on humor manages to come out as the shining jewel of their creation, as is the case with many of their other works. If one is familiar with the situation in Macedonia even on a basic level, I think they would have no trouble feeling the humor. That being said, K-15 is indeed an esoteric satirical powerhouse especially since it is limited in terms of geography and language. This makes the experience of their content all the more personal and enjoyable.
Considering the film is a low budget production, production value is definitely not its strongest suit. However, I am putting aside the lack of lavish shots and the recycling of a single music track (with the exception of the diegetic songs at the end) because of the authenticity present. In a sea of mediocre stories which focus on polish, the 2003 New Year’s Special invests wisely in narrative and serving a two-fold purpose. First of all, it serves as a mirror to the people it mockingly portrays. Then it provides a good learning experience. But what sets it apart from most of the other Macedonian productions as well as many films from the West is how it holds up to classic storytelling principals. In addition to their success as satirists and jokers, K-15’s involvement in creating stories such as these is the reason they’re held in such high regard.