Apart from the screen nutrition, festivals are about logistics and practicalities. A first-time visitor to Punta de Vista enjoys the benefits of having most of the programme at the same venue. No time wasted on constant relocating. There’s always the charm of eating lunch sitting down, maybe even reading about films before seeing them. Orienting oneself in a new, exotic place is in itself a worthwhile experience – combined with navigating rows upon rows of tapas, throngs of natives and perusing a salsa-soiled map two minutes before a show starts; it’s a case of the worst of all worlds.
The doc festival Punto de Vista has a reputation for favouring the alternative, the bold innovations, the oddities, although not to the extent that they fancy the new just for the sake of novelty, as one of the festival committee members put it, adding that the financial crisis is just one reason the festival is a few days shorter this year; the other being that they are simply not interested in unnecessary growth. That might be a healthy attitude. There’s already more than an eyeful on offer, even if one should possess the unlikely ability to be present in two places simultaneously. Apart from the Official Section’s contestants for certain awards for best film and so on, there are the special screenings with directors present, where names like José Luis Guerin, Patricio Guzmán and Nicolas Philibert were listed.
The latter’s film Nenette was the festival’s opening show. Philibert’s 70-minute film is named after its protagonist, the 42-year-old orangutan who resides in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. The typical gloomy sight of wildlife behind bars is here softened by the fact that in this case, it is the observed animal that in a sense gets to call the shots. The prying visitors are captured within the game – at least as its focus. Their observations and remarks turn Nenette into a reflection of the onlookers themselves. Point of view, indeed.1 If Nicolas Philibert could be suspected of having taken his cue from one of the festival’s treasures of the classic repertoire, he would easily be forgiven.