ENH film festival: Thursday, 30th July 2009


I’ve got 4 days worth of film reviews from the ENH film festival in Wroclaw, but judging by the length of time it took me to write this one it’s going to be a while before I put them up *sigh*

Muukalainen (Finland/Estonia/Germany/UK, 2008)

Runtime: 105′
Director: J.-P. Valkeapää
Cast: Vitali Bobrov, Emilia Ikäheimo, Pavel Liska, Jorma Tommila
Production House: Backup Films, Blue Light, Exitfilm, Helsinki Filmi Oy, Propeller Film
Plot: The story of a boy who doesn’t speak. He lives alone with his mother in the deep countryside. His father is in prison. One day a visitor arrives on the farm. Things change.


Impressions In Short
Beautiful cinematography, almost no dialogue and hardly any action. Not my cup of tea really.

More About the Film
I think the main selling point of the film is the cinematography. It really is very beautiful. And the film has quite an effective and spooky soundtrack to compliment the visuals.
The acting is strong as well and the performers have extremely striking (and very Scandinavian *grin*) faces.
But on the whole I felt the film was rather blah. I didn’t get involved enough in it and I found the characters relatively uninteresting.

If you’re into this sort of thing (long and beautiful shots, a lot of landscapes, not much action or dialogue) then probably yes. Otherwise no, not really.

Guy Maddin - short films (Canada, 1995-2009)

Director: Guy Maddin
Plot: This wasn’t a film as such, but a 2h screening of Guy Maddin’s short films, which I’m too lazy to review seperately :] There were 17 films shown: Odilon Redon or The Eye Like a Strange Baloon Mounts Towards Infinity (1995), Sissy-Boy-Slap-Party (1995), Hospital Fragments (1999), The Heart of the World (2000), It’s a Wonderful Life (2001), A Trip to the Orphanage (2004), Sombra Dolorosa (2004), My Dad Is 100 Years Old (2005), Nude Caboose (2006), Odin’s Shield Maiden (2007), Berlin (2008), Collage Party (2008), It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today (2008), Footsteps (2008), Glorious (2008), Spanky: To the Pier and Back (2008), Send Me to the ?Lectric Chair (2009)

A lot of Maddin’s shorts are on youtube. So for your viewing pleasure I’ve chosen two ;) You can see Sissy-Boy-Slap-Party (1995) here and The Heart of the World (2000) is available here. You can actually see how his style evolved in those 5 years between the two films I think :)

Impressions In Short
As a screening this didn’t work so well. Watching so many of Guy Maddin’s shorts one after the other is rather tiring. I mean I totally love Guy Maddin, but he can be a bit exhausting and these shorts were not made with the intention to be watched one after the other like that…

More About the Films
Generally speaking, if you’re familiar with Guy Maddin you’ll probably have a good idea of what his short films might be like. And if you’re not familiar with him then you’re losing out ;-P
Guy Maddin is one of a kind, I actually think it weird that he’s not a better known name. I mean you just won’t see that kind of thing done by anybody else (which of course doesn’t mean you’ll like it ;) but having said that, he is rather popular at the ENH film festival every year - I think it’s why they finally did a full retrospective this year).
Anyway, for those who aren’t familiar with him, he takes very heavily from silent films, especially the German Expressionist era (which is probably why he resonates so strongly with me - it’s my favourite part of silent cinema :) Though I guess his absurd sense of humour helps too). Gradually he started taking it a bit further with the editing. He basically developed his own totally unique editing style which I’ve never seen replicated by anybody else. You can see him talking about it here. Naturally, his editing is not everyone’s cup of tea (if you’re going to be put off him then that’s the most likely reason). Some people find it too fast and difficult to follow. Oddly enough, as much as I don’t like choppy editing (I was complaining about it in the latest Harry Potter film, was I not? ;) ), Maddin’s editing I like. It just kind of makes sense to do it that way. I mean I wouldn’t like all films to go that route ;) But for his films it works IMO.

I’d dissuade people from watching so many of his shorts in one go :] And I think for people who have not seen Maddin before it would be better to try one of his feature length films. For people like me, who are already sold on Maddin, I think his shorts are definitely worth a look :)

Zum Vergleich (Austria/Germany, 2009)

Runtime: 61′
Director: Harun Farocki
Production House: Harun Farocki Filmproduktion, Navigator Film Produktion, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), 3Sat
Plot: A documentary that looks at how bricks are made in different parts of the world.

Didn’t find any clips :-/

Impressions In Short
It’s an original way of looking at the differences between the underdeveloped world, the developing world and the developed world.

More About the Film
The film starts out in Burkina Faso. Brick-making there is a community thing and the skills required for it are null (I could help out with the brick-making myself and would be no worse than anybody else doing it). The whole community in the village seems involved in the work, including children and everyone just looks happy. It’s a very positive atmosphere. Bricks are made on site and the walls of the new building are put up within a few days.
Next up comes India. Here the work is more complex. Machines and tools are used, workers are skilled. The whole process is adjusted for maximum speed. Everyone is concentrated on what they’re doing and not much social interaction seems to take place.
Finally, we end up in Europe (the plants that were filmed were in Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Unlike India, where the plants seem to operate more or less the same way since the 1930s and 40s, the European plants are all very new, having started production in the 2000s or so. People have been almost completely eliminated from the process - everything is mechanised. Only quality-checking requires any people to be around.
The film may not be very thrilling, but it’s a much more interesting way of comparing life in different parts of the world than it seems when you first hear of it. It was also rather refreshing to be left to observe and interpret what’s on screen for myself. I rarely see documentaries that leave quite that much in the hands of the viewer. They’re usually trying to put some kind of point of view across.

Er… possibly. For most people I think this film would probably be too slow and observational to really keep their attention. But I think some would enjoy it.

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