Cinema of a past reality

Today no mise en scene at the breakfast. No men in black. Or very little. Probably the weather forecast of a shiny day defeated them. I am sure the toughest resistant must be wearing some black undies. A pity that nobody can see the perfect match with their glasses frames.

Like every day this week we tend to be a bit late for the 9 am screening, and as we cross the road in front of our hotel, a lonely street in the morning, with sharp angles shadows projected on the floor by this unexpected sun, a young man came toward us asking for a lighter. I do not smoke but my great and adventurous partner in crime does. If the UN would promote a peace program based on tobacco for sure it would work. But no political chat here, just one of those great moments when by a total chance you meet someone and start an interesting discussion, and yes guess about what ? Movies, and more specifically about yesterday’s school panel debate. I already gave my point of view on it on yesterday’s note – and will develop more in the conclusion of these festival days – but to make it short, I tend to believe there is a certain redundancy in what is being done by those schools, whilst he thinks there is a big wave coming, brought by the wind of change. Funnily enough we do live in the same place, so once back for sure we ll go on with this discussion.

We arrived to the Ex-Rex theater with a certain delay and secretly whispering the wind of change. I need to find some old tapes in the cellar.

Like said earlier, starting the day with the retrospective is a good way to get ready for the daily program. It gives a kind of base from where you can build your thoughts on, and today’s movie was a late piece of the 70s, a mix between the disillusion of a perfect and successful life in line with your parents expectation facing the free spirit of the 70s and already lost hopes of an already too old generation to fully accept the revolution. Yes a middle age crisis brought by the death of a character and the exposure of his secrets. How much strength has a man to keep control over everything ? And how strong are his relatives to accept the lies that protected them from getting hurt ? Sharp movie. Very sharp.

A nice weather equals nice walks. 10 min from piazza to Fevi, count 15 min because of flip flops injuries and we can’t make it on time for Tutti Giu. Again a sold out session. Of course as it was the premiere of an Italian movie. It grasps attention. We can’t help starting the discussion about how much it reminds my wife the time when her parents had to queue for toilet paper during the communist times. She’s from Poland. Here no toilet paper. And we have a great laugh.

This unexpected event pushed us to another place and there we are ready for L’enfant d’en haut, a Swiss movie that was released earlier this year. What a surprise to arrive late (again) and to discover all lights are on : the Swiss authors association delivers every year some grants to help in the development of 4 fictional movies and 4 documentaries. And what a surprise to see some old pals from the movie school being called on stage. It meant meeting them later.

But for now, and after those announcements, the movie. Setting the commercial / fame background of it , it got a special prize in Berlin and is the pride of Swiss Films ; the director will even be part of one of the juries at the next Mostra in Venice.
On the artistic side, it is the story of a young boy’s life spread between the valley where he lives in a certain poverty with his sister, and the ski resorts uphill where he steals all what comes around to get some cash and make their living possible.
And there goes with the hard part. I prefer saying it upfront, what will follow is a 10000% my own personal opinion and totally biased by my background…: how come, in 2012, you dare still making such type of movie ? I do not have anything, it is rather the opposite, against social movies. I love when you can make a great fiction where you describe the struggle of a social class, no matter which one. We had great examples this year with Otto Preminger’s movies. But in the case of this Swiss movie, I am doubtful on the way of presenting it. I heard some people talking about a bourgeois fantasy about the lower class. I would rather say it recalls me an old history book I had during my secondary days, a book that used to be part of the archive but that our teacher liked. A book where we still were talking about colonies in Asia and Africa….and this is the feeling I have in front of the movie : a perspective from the early 20th century when poor people and workers might still be charged for spreading plague, being undereducated and lacking any kind of pride. And if you are a female, my god poor you, no future. Zero ability to survive without a man. Ok I can hear some saying but it is a fiction and you have to understand it as a tale. Fine. Fair. But the attributes given to the characters still are the ones I mentioned above. Not to forget : only if you are rich you can easily deal with a family and maternity…with a certain detachment but you can. And if you are rich, you are a foreigner. No way you can be Swiss. And if you are Swiss, you are on top of the system or totally under.
My last point : did you know that with 100 francs you can eat for half a month by going to Aldi or any other Walmart like supermarket? And what about low cost products? I know it is a tale that got a prize for its acute social perspective….

After such a long break was needed : friends, discussions, melon, prosciutto, pizza, giant coke, ice cream, walk, sun and a free drink that contains 3x more caffein than an espresso. Yes we are middle class.

The coffee drink didn’t have the expected effect on my best half, and when watching the Korean movie , she couldn’t help having a little rest, despite a clear interest in the plot. How can we talk about justice in China, not matter if the guilt is proven or not, true or not.
A very interesting 70 min movie made out of a maximum of 20 different shooting angles. Some scenes do last 5 min with no camera movement. And if the powerful topic, because based on a true story, is a great hook, the mise en scene is clean and clear. In some places you still isolate the truth to make it weaker, in some others you dilute it amongst all the other pretended ones. Very sensitive movie , as fragile in its success as it is close to the failure.

Knowing it would be our last day,we made the choice to catch back the screening of a movie selected for the week of the critics : me, my camera and the end of the war in Libya. Actually we were afraid it would be ME, MY CAMERA, and libya. And what a great time we had with this project. Humble, serving its topic, we are within the libyan population,within the war’s rampage, within a reality. Choices are made, sides are chosen. A bit redundant at the end but is it the director’s fault or our fatigue about war images ? I told myself with a little smile that some wasted buildings weren’t as nice as some fictional war movie’s set.

Evening on the piazza, squeezed between the gang of girls – mom vacations and the lost surfers crew. On screen a nice French comedy about what my generation faces : middle age crisis and how to deal with the choices we made / believe we we forced to follow and what those commitments brought as consequences. We laughed, we almost cried. It was a great last evening.

More to come tomorrow with the wrap up of those Italian days. Stayed tuned, cheetahs are on their way !

The movies :

Such good friends, by Otto Preminger, USA, 1971, 101min
L’ enfant d’en haut (Sister), by Ursula Meier, CH/France, 2012, 97min
Wo hai you hua yao shuo (when night falls), by Ying Liang, South Korea/China, 2012, 70min
Libya hurra, by Fritz Ofner, Austria, 2012, 73min
Camille redouble, by Noemie Lvovsky, France, 2012, 115min

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