CPH:DOX 2018: EXTINCTION BY SALOME LAMAS

This entry was posted on March 27th, 2018

By Aldo Padilla

Somalilandia, Kurdistan, Transnistria, imaginary territories that, despite a strong identity as united spaces, don’t have international recognition, and whose frontiers are blurred as soon as they are out of the mind of the habitants of these zones, zones that belong to everyone and no one at the same time. The situation is even more critical in Eastern Europe, where in the last thirty years countries have been appearing, disappearing, fragmenting themselves in ways that make their inhabitants have a more regional than national identity. Countries and habitants that move always near extinction, if we assume the frontiers as a body containing the living organism that is the country, amidst insurrections in the way, since as time passes, these type of divisions is seen as something anachronistic, not according to actuality.

Salomé Lamas travels again to an unknown scenery and leaves aside the relation of man and nature as a way of work, to deepen in the strange relation of belonging by men and their concept of nationality, through the rests of the huge shadow that the former Soviet Union left behind, among characters seen as ghosts, reflecting on the legacy of this giant nation that crumbled under its own weight. The film moves between constant contradictions, characters that want to be part of Russia again while other look for their independence. This only shows the explosive cocktail of nationalist aspirations present in the Balkans and Oriental Europe, the uncontrollable diversity of people that haven’t decided between splitting even further or reunify in a sort of Frankenstein without a future.

Lamas emphasizes the bewilderment through a black and white which denotes a somber atmosphere, full of monuments about to fall, frontiers that mutate in every instant, passport that allow access to no place, and a yearning of failed systems. She also manages to mold time as a parabolic way, where the immediate past seems to be further than it is and the near future seems far away and diffuse. Blue screens without images where the dialogues that are hear in the background makes us feel like we’re hidden in a recorder inside the pocket of the filmmaker, while we define where we are. And finally, a character that seems to be the mixture of all the sensations described, from strangeness to fatigue, all this portrayed with an aesthetic whose extreme contrast takes us near to video art.

Despite certain dryness from the political discourse that the film manifests, the visual ideas dominate a film about facts and times that seem vaguely connected, but which drive us to understand that nonexistent country among neighbors that deny it or don’t know it, accompanied by the explicit support of the filmmaker, that looks to reinvindicate aspirations that the occidental world wants to shut down.

Director: Salomé Lamas
Portugal, 2018
85 min