Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The machine which makes everything disappear

Disappear Here - is the sentence that I recall of the writings by Bret Easton Ellis. The filmmaker Tinatin Gurchiani explores this desire to disappear or to make other things disappear in her bold documentary "the machine which makes everything disappear"

In less than a month she interviews various individuals in front of a decaying wall and chooses to follow some into their lives and intimate spaces. They,  the protagonists, came to stand in front of her camera because they were eager to participate in a film. They are the face of  Georgia's young generation and they showed up for something the filmmaker calls a casting. As she interviews her protagonists she quickly manages to find out the core issues that preoccupy their minds and establishes an equilibrium between her will to make a film and their need to share their lives with her.
The film  takes us on a journey that shows us the directors native country and its emotional landscape which often seems to be devastating and in some strange way full of compassion as we witness the tragic situations of her protagonists. A young boy working on his parents farm while he dreams of being part of a movie, a blockbuster.  Or a young woman meeting her mother who abandoned her years ago. In a matter of days she finds her biological mother and confronts her with the pain that she caused and still causes. The scene is unbelievable and  hard to bear as we see the daughter screaming out the scars of her childhood shedding seemingly endless tears. We also get to know a senior amateur Photographer who comes even though the film was meant to be about the young Georgians. He explains that old people are always needed, even if it is just for a small role.
We follow a young man who lives in a secluded rural area. Between hills and valleys I imagine. He is the governor of a region in which the average age lies somewhere between 60 and 70 years. Besides the elderly whom he helps "like a son" there is also a town alcoholic who follows his advice. The deeper we get into the subject and the various characters the more we get to understand the need that the director has to show her country. In the discussion following the film at Doc Leipzig, we discover that she asked evey single one that same question " if you had a machine which makes things disappear, what would it be?".  "Myself" is the only clear answer we get to see on camera. A young girl who we observe in a club scene confides that she would make herself disappear.
I wonder to what extent our brains are the Houdini's of our lives that sometimes pick and audience-brain-cell and allowing it to vanish without a trace.
The film ends with an incredible improvised soliloquy which emphasizes on lonesomeness and the absurdity of life recited by a young depressed Georgian.

Giving you the wrong idea is far to easy and giving you a closer look could only actually occur by giving you a copy of the film. But I hope that the trailer will do for now.

The film won the World Cinema Directing Award at Sundance, Documentary:
 Tinatin Gurchiani, The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Old edits die hard - even when footage is found

Editing is something that rarely has been described in a way that would make me nod without reluctance. Walter Murch describes it as being the blink of an eyelid in his most notorious book In the Blink of an Eye. He suggests that it has the same effect as a cut in a film. I suppose it would be like a break from ones own sight to the next perspective. In the German language however people are easily convinced that the essence of editing is to be found in the cut. The reason this preoccupies my mind is because I live in Berlin and far to often sigh when I hear the word - cutter-.
“Cutter” is the word that stands for “Editor” in German and that gives us the idea that the individuals' task is to stand there with an axe waiting to severe frames from each other. Also the word “Schnitt” which stands for the Edit, or Editing as a whole, stresses the cutting all over again. As an editor it is hard to make one understand what the task actually is. Very often we fall into the trap of vehemently defending the Art whilst using spoken or written language (mea culpa). One may speak of, appropriation, observation, association, contextualization, juxtaposition and so forth, but at the end I would say that the experiments very often discover a visual language that should not succumb to the limitations of words and syntax. Furthermore, I actually believe that editing is the process in which we search  an appropriate grammar for each video, film or experimental piece. I came to think of this in the last weeks and I must say, I was happy to notice that I could find it in something, that I found in the back of my external disk drive. Yes, HDD is the drawer in which we can rediscover things we once created, wrote, sketched, photographed or downloaded from the net. I however was confronted with this short video, made with found footage. I believe it was made about three years ago and all I can say is that it stirred up many thoughts about what editing is-not-is. As all things that lie beyond the tree of good and evil, this issue will haunt me again. Maybe the difficulty to articulate editing is a blessing since it defies definition and leaves some room for us to explore.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Overtime by Gürcan Keltek – seen at Dok Leipzig

The catalogue description of Overtime/Fazlamesai  got my attention at first. "Something grainy" is all I thought before seeing it. Something that defies the clean look that the HD world expects, and that alone, was enough for me. Once the screening started I felt that the 8mm look and its edginess reflected the hardships of its protagonist's lives. The camera follows them through sweatshops and the street corners where one of males sells his body. But their voices that accompany their trajectories show how conformed they have become with their poor lifestyle and their fates. Undramatic, but gripping the audience with its wonderfully shot images, we come to understand how hopeless some of Istambul's youth has become. The fragmentary style might disturb some spectators who expect a straight story and a clean execution. But if film has a surface,then this documentary reminds me that it is a surface that we can use, and if this blog wants to be true to its name, then Kelteks short film needs to be mentioned to say the least.