Presence

Jan Troell

Sweden 2003.

Like Cartier-Bresson, he trusts his intuition and wants to catch the moments of magic before returning to the darkroom to find the story. Like the credo we have heard time and again from film documentary icons like Leacock, Pennebaker and Maysles: direct cinema is about being there and filming. Seeing what happens. Discovering the story later on. The intellect is the enemy.

The film about Oddner, which takes us to the US where he earned a living as a fashion photographer and to the Russia and Estonia of his childhood, a slightly traumatic past, is a film for all documentary addicts. It is light in tone, and Oddner expresses his view of the world lucidly and thoughtfully. He never goes for the exotic, he is constantly searching for the universal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6PdI91p8oo

But the film is first and foremost more proof of Jan Troell’ s enormous talent for working with documentary material. Oddner is a friend of his and they share a lot in terms of vision and method. “Let life’s own compositions talk,” says Oddner, while Troell and camera look at and read his still photos on our behalf – and make personal photographic observations. One of them will be a classic: an almost Hitchcockian scene where Troell follows a young couple in an office building across from the window of his hotel room. They talk, they move around, she is about to leave, she does not leave, she stays. It’s all about love. Life talking.

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