After a year of diet, here I am again at the Visions du Reel movie festival in Nyon. The main focus of the festival are documentaries somehow linked to direct cinema theories (to make it simple and quick…if more check

Today was my first day at the Festival that actually started last week. But due to Easter and the usual Polish trip linked to it, I missed the first days…and so far I would say for good. Indeed Recently I am wondering on how to move on with the editing of the movie On Location, as 98% of the shooting is completed. And after a lot of mountaineering and that family trip, I am now more than opened for advice and ideas.

So perfect timing to go back to a movie festival, to get inspired by what is being screened to find solutions to this usual  tricky bit I am having now as the post production begins.

Today it was rainy and cloudy. Cold and windy. It starts to be the standard for the Nyon’s festival. Indoors a packed cinema room – probably the weather’s effect – and the first movie of the day was Modulations, a short movie about a hip hop crew’s studio recording session. I am a fan of hip hop and the movie brought me back some…well 25 years ago , days of my life when I was deeply immersed into the freshly growing hip hop culture in Switzerland. So on the screen the entire process on how to set up a beat, adapt it to the lyrics and then the recording / mastering in what has become more than familiar to anyone since “we are the world” video clip and more recently all the home studios happily sold by Avid, M-Audio, Steinberg, etc etc have been heavily promoted.

Unfortunately to me, I think the movie was a nice high quality capture of a moment in life…and nothing more. I could feel the director being overwhelmed not by the emotions of the topic but by the fact of being fascinated by it. Sort of “let me show you the WOW” instead of “let me share with you the WOW that is happening on-screen. A lot of images of mixing devices, peak meters close-ups, tweek switches being processed, headset and mic covers just for the sake of the nice picture. A feeling that the movie director rediscovered what MTV broadcasted widely in the 80’s. Maybe is she too young to know it ?

Following it was another medium length documentary called Maximum Pleasure. A polish movie about five retired woman in a Polish town that are getting crazy buying every possible expensive household gadget that the TV Shopping channel has to offer. And indeed the weakness of the ladies is that all seems to be an offer : special expensive prices but with discount on supposed high quality life lasting products. The official synopsis defines the movie as a cruel documentary comedy about a widespread phenomenon in Central Europe…and it is true. And so does the point of view. There is very little empathy with the 5 characters. We are stuck in the showing of  how they are trapped into this craving for buying themselves a living and an eternity via selfishly spending the money they don’t have. Obviously it is hard to build and show the true complexity of the characters, specially if we consider how much History , from WW II to Communist Times, had a strong impact on people’s lives and perspectives. Some scenes are truly hilarious and are worth watching the movie. But if the main joke of such scenes are blowing you off on their first appearance, they become as well like gadgets when being repeated later on. Again hard to understand what the movie director wanted to share there. And this is why it becomes cruel and unfortunately to me reduces the “plot” to some people who run no matter what after fulfilling their egos. Some melancholic bits and general background locations (their houses, their partners) help in giving clues on how stretched they could be. But nothing apart from money seems to be the stretch. At the end the feeling that the director is pointing a finger towards them and this irrational race they embarked in.

Lunch break – fast one and back to the cinema where…well…I must say that both short movies of the morning are definitely worth being watched and my comments could be seen as picky…but the one I had at 12.00 GMT+1….I still can’t believe I’ve seen such. It was Les Tourmentes.

I actually chose to go to it as it was being presented as some magic, mystical outdoors mountains, Shepard, animals and voices mashed movie. A must see. Yes a must see in the 70’s with all the artificial voice over, shaky frames, super loud deep bass sounds (btw thanks Mr David Lynch…..if in your movies all the suction sounds effect are great, it actually polluted the mind of generations and generations of movie directors…I am joking of course but such cool effect is being used over and over and over in whatever situation…). So or I became sort of sensitive about what the experience of the outdoors is, or the movie has been mixing to many things…and only in someones brain. A true lack of content from the heart. It was an essay , again fascination first and power of the topic much after and hidden in a rigid copy/paste form, where every 10 min the same was happening with pretty similar images and sounds effects. A lot of work definitely, but not touching me. For sure other people have been, as this is the beauty of the world : all tastes are equally available and good.

Half sleepy I got out of the cinema to move to another location where I would enjoy the two last movies of the day : again shorter ones. The first , Autofocus, is a great little Croatian movie where you spend your time watching, from a couple of yards away , one of the most visited touristic attraction that is located on a small hill. Worldwide languages, comedy situations : tourists being spied by a sort of sniper hidden far away from his victims. We laugh, sometimes too much if I consider the content and the audience’s reaction ( I ll explain it later), and at the end we feel like having had a nice time. Nothing more. A true candid camera moment that makes you feel some kind of better than the average tourist. And this is a true discomfort to me. Sounds like I haven’t enjoyed a lot my day…

Last movie of the day : Hotel and a Ball. A movie bravely crafted in Latvia , presented as ” The film is about wondering why the world is the place it is”…”A masterful quiet dialogue of worlds and points of view”. To put it back into the context, imagine an old sport resort, you know the communist times jewel of the 50’s. Fine. You’re there ? Ok so imagine nothing has been refurbished since and still every type of young sports people use it for football, athletics, strong men preparation contest. The employes on the fields have made their careers there too. So have the equipment. A hotel is still opened and welcomes all those brave sportsmen and women. Interesting topic. Interesting movie. And again just a camera that , thanks to close-ups makes some normal, everyday’s details appear like the ultimate poetry. A very normal things that I remembered happening in a small swiss village’s football field in the 80’s were so attractive to an overcrowded cinema as all is happening now in Latvia… I am still puzzled. But nice movie, specially if you don’t read or consider the synopsis.

All in all a nice start with a lot of work in every movie. But an overall feeling, and not the first time, that there is a trend taking us on the shore of a risk free movie making. I hardly felt anything else but the fascination of the movie makers in their proposals. Most of the time I felt like empathy and the translation into images of the personal experience was missing. As if we got too well-trained in being “objective” when shooting the movie, which leads to similar objects at the end. No space for little mistakes of the heart. Those little imperfections where you melt as it is the fragility of the person behind the camera sharing a moment of brotherhood with what is being recorded. I believe as well that editing is being very much influenced by a 15 years of real tv shows : as long as it serves the plot, let’s forget the deep emotional coherence for a cheaper superficial action/reaction principle. Maybe are we getting lazy on sharing the true hard to grasp feelings and we replace it by the most exquisite verbal lies ?

So tomorrow another day in the dark rooms, where an audience of 50+, hipster style and loving the exotic of a non perfect swiss-like reality and I would again have this great experience of watching the hard work of passionate people.

The movies :


Some weeks ago a schoolmate contacted me as a student she’s in charge of was planning a movie about the university we went to. In our days there, I made a little documentary (26min) about our class and what we were facing those days of hard work and learn. So here is the movie for those who are interested in it – the others can share it !. It was in 2007 – all the guys there have now found their successful path into the cinema industry !

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