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Sundance 2021: “Prime Time”

© Watchout Studio / photo Tomek Kaczor

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Most of us are excited to celebrate the new year. On New Year’s Eve, normally, we gather with the closest family members and friends to great the new chapter of a calendar year. However, some have different plans, perhaps a sinister one, to do something awful or just make a statement.

Set in 1999 in Poland on New Year’s Eve. The country is getting ready for a big celebration. The TV presenter, Mira, is about to announce a happy winner of the car that is right in the studio. Nobody imagined things could go wrong. Sebastian, a twenty-year-old man armed with weapons, enters the studio and takes two hostages, Mira and the guard. He has only one demand before he surrenders himself – to address the nation live on TV.

We don’t know much about Sebastian, other than that his father remarried to a younger woman. The young man dropped out of school and is full of anger. He carries a gun and promises he won’t hesitate to use it. But when he takes two hostages, unlike the SWAT team, they see in him a human being. As the minutes change to hours and the time comes, the mood intensifies, police loses its patience and so does Sebastian, who wants to deliver something intelligent to the people, if he gets his chance.

Screenplay by Jakub Piątek, Łukasz Czapski and directed by Jakub Piątek, “Prime Time” is a powerful hostage drama from Poland. The character-driven film does not necessarily focus on Sebastian’s message but rather on his background and state of mind, which was already unstable. The film does not try to vilify him nor paint him as a hero. There’s nothing heroic in taking hostages. However, he is not violent even though he wants to appear that way. As for the film itself, get ready for an intense standout, crashed emotions and a heartbreaking conclusion that will leave absolutely devastated.

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