Visions du Reel – Day 2

Today has been a great day for filmmaking. If yesterday I felt a sort of lack of commitment, today 2 out of 3 movies were on the opposite side.


First and probably my favorite of the day : The Optimist, or a team of 15 old ladies – aged from 68 to 98 years old – that move from a weekly fun practice of volleyball on a tennis court into planning a match against another elderly team. We follow their adventures, the adventures of retired people trying to keep on with an acceptable shape and slowly getting ready to the end of the journey. It actually shows what our European continent is facing more and more and will have to deal with in the coming years : ageing population and what will be his role, entertainment and duties in the society. A very touching movie where the characters and their issues are dignified by the movie director. As a result an amazingly well-balanced movie that touched me a lot, probably as in On location most of my interviews involve that same generation. Totally apart from the movie itself, the cinema room was overcrowded by seniors ! A lot of laughs occurred and I believe it was more often nervously done, as the average audience member was lacking a simple decade to be part of those wonderful sporty grandmas. So if you can watch it anywhere, go for it !

Second of day was selected as it is about a trans-siberian train. On the printscreen a table with pickles and tea. All what I love and a part of the mixed culture of our family. So just the time to change location and here we are : Quelques jours ensemble. French movie, french director…and back to the ” I found an amazing spot that is so exotic to what we have in our country that only by shooting whatever will happen stories will emerge and the set is so unbelievable that it becomes a character and etc etc…”. Overall nothing to say about the movie and nothing keep silent. Dont criticize, don’t celebrate. It could me the motto. Indeed it seemed that , once again, the fascination worked as a strong inhibitor and all the feelings of the experience of the shooting were translated and shown via the usual  “french touch” of the voice over, while having scenes shot from the train’s window on the move. Already seen ? No worries there ‘s a great audience for such movies. Overall a bit disappointed despite the very interesting stories of the travellers, even if very close to the stereotype of what we think Russia and its citizens are. Nevertheless I asked myself, after a man told his memories from the USSR’s Afghanistan war, what should the average hipster with his Freitag bag thinks or feels on such a moment ?

Last of the day, and perfect to conclude it : Territoire de la Liberté. A russian movie about the free community of Stolbyst, proud and free mountaineers that live upstream in current Russia’s melt. The movie, made by a Russian that was educated in such community embraces the reality of what freedom could be in the modern Russia. Never being idealistic but rather showing the complexity and pragmatism of the slavic mind-set, we follow generations of “Stolbysts” and their way of living. Some might say it looked like a movie about mountain vacations camp or some wild scouts unofficial jamboree. To me it looked exactly the same as what some people have here as well : huts in the mountains with primary comfort, sanctuaries away from everyday’s routine’s dictatorship (yes the joke here is stands in one letter…). Formally, the movie works around a non sophisticated binary rhythm, where Kremlin’s gatherings and official schedule faces the way those free thinkers adapt it. At the end it gives you a nice feeling of wanting to know more and the thought that yes you were invited to be a guest of a secret way of life, but it is a private club only. And its code might not be yours, unless you are Russian. To me, nothing wrong about it, rather the opposite : it shows you from deep inside a way of recognizing your own philosophy of life. In that sense a teaching and a true gift : this is the way it works for us, be sure there is one for you too.


Amazing day, with a little more sun than yesterday. Is it a sign ? At least my learning today is multiple : first of all, I understand why Swiss (or wealthy / educated ) audience can be satisfied with a movie that focuses only on a shiny mesmerizing object : it is already enough exotic to make you think (in the best case) or feel some emotions as quite often we tend to hide them in these latitudes. I understand as well why movie makers having that education have a hard time going over the fascination of their subject and avoid to enter where it hurts and gives you a scar as a shooting memory. It might jeopardize the outcome, maybe having a less perfect movie but what are we looking for ? A direct connection with the topic ; what is offered on-screen can only be passed through a human experience, a feeling. I know that’s my latino – southern hemisphere me – talking, but to me movie director is like a guide, that takes you, unexperienced person, into a world where he’ll be always there for you. He makes you discover places and things by standing next to you, by sharing the secret of his own experience and beloved world.

Secondly, I must admit that If I was shocked on the audience age couple of years ago, it doesn’t get better as even being a not that young adult anymore, I am surprised on how many old spices groomed arty people are around. A vast majority actually. And how much all is becoming more and more standardized on how most of the audience looks like, talks like, breathes like and no matter the age. Diversity at its lowest level. The more the industry claims to be a non industry, the more everyone looks alike…and protects its little capital…

Thirdly, and despite my critics, there’s a lot of work put into the movies, and I would even say maybe too much. Perfection, years of theories and guidance on how to be free of contingencies are now having the opposite effect : we find the ultimate quality (on the aspect, not always the content) in every type of movie. They seem less and less made by humans and more and more made by the legacy of discourse. And I truly believe that editing suffers more and more from the real TV influence. I am sure.

So tomorrow again another session, other discoveries and as everyday thanks to the people who made those movies , for their dedication and …gosh I badly miss a little mountain hike ! So take me there with your movies !!



The movies :

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