Visions du réel in Nyon focuses less on films from the English speaking world and more on French, German and Swiss films and films with a philosophic approach. The festival insists on focusing on artistic approaches rather than issue-borne films. This includes both traditional observational films, like Frederick Wiseman’s 3½-hour “State Legislature”, and films with a more experimental approach, like the 46-minute “Scènes de chasse au sanglier” by Claudio Pazienza.
Of the various sections, Regard Neuf was particularly brimming with pleasant surprises. It often happens that the ‘director’s first film’ section at a festival shows films of uneven quality, but the VdR team had made a good effort to find first films of high cinematic quality with coherent style and idea, featuring new filmmakers with a talent for storytelling. Here are a few examples.
Sándor Lau from New Zealand has committed an innovatively styled portrait of Kevin, a Maori living a nomadic life, earning money by washing car windows, and living in temporary abodes. He used to be the father of a family with two kids, but doesn’t see them anymore. He is manic, a speedy talker and always on the move. He is aggressive but at the same time moving and charming. The style is refreshing, adopting a street-life feeling and Kevin’s personality in its cinematic mode. It is filmed in black and white, occasionally colouring single objects in the picture, as when Kevin stretches his hand towards the camera showing the money he has earned, which is coloured in gold.
When the camera follows Kevin at his ‘work’ and driving cars, it moves hectically with him, the editing is fast and passages with rap music are inserted. This alternates with calmer passages where Kevin reveals his life story as a boy in the Maori community, raised by a bullying foster mother. A few other people are interviewed like someone telling about the social problems for the Maori population, and a family he stays with for a while talks about Kevin’s good points. Also intercut are archive films, racist propagandistic films produced by the government. Music is quite dominant throughout, altering between rap music and sad lonesome guitar music during the parts about his past.
The film raises the issue of how the Maori population has been treated by colonists. Kevin goes to the library and finds history books showing pictures of wild Maoris slaughtering defenceless whites. He hates the colonists, the way they destroyed Maori lives for their own benefit. The filmmaker handles his many artistic elements in a masterly way and creates a great viewing experience and moving film.
The Operating Theatre
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