FEW THOUGHTS ON ANDREA BUSSMANN’S FAUST AT BERLIN CRITICS’ WEEK

This entry was posted on February 11th, 2019

By Vladimir Seput

‘Is the resistance of reality to be filmed going away?’ asked film critic and programmer Roger Koza during the discussion at the Berlin Critics’ Week moderated by Michael Hack after the screening of Fausto by Andrea Bussmann, her first feature film that premiered in last year’s Locarno Film Festival. Bussmann is known for her work with Nicolás Pereda with whom she made Tales of Two Who Dreamt in 2016. In Fausto, shot on the Oaxacan coast of Mexico, Bussman went in search for a creation of a different, engaging filmmaking that questions linear politics of moving images and resists the conventional narrative. Literature and legends, cartography, zoological classification and magic all intertwine in absorbing Fausto that crafts its stories like lace, going from smaller patterns to bigger ones, from unknown micro-stories to general knowledge.

During the post-screening conversation artist and filmmaker Kitso Lynn Lelliott, who uses history as a material for her reflection on ancestrally and its linking with contemporary moment, emphasized the importance of art to be an invitation towards more body-related and less cerebral way of creation. Such a construction of images shouldn’t be done from a strictly defined position or a regime of thought said Lynn Lelliott and the films should work towards questioning of the hegemony of that presupposition. Fausto operates towards that search and it is the film that is essentially about the quest, the exploration. In its mixing of fiction and documentary it looks for answers on what can we know and what can we grasp by thinking. Characters in the film, Fernando, Alberto, Victor, Ziad are the embodiment of the journey through time and space, through mythology and storytelling that questions and plays with our established system of beliefs.

Important filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami knew, said Roger Koza, that there should be something left un-filmed, that certain things in cinema should stay opaque and that is what Andrea Bussmann tried to achieve when she transferred Fausto, originally filmed digitally, to 16mm. A statement against high-definition technology, against visual sharpness and straightforward understanding. It’s a pursuit of dream and magic, legend and belief, in which Goethe’s Faust serves as an inspiration for a search of the unknown. While characters speak different languages from Spanish to French and Arabic, the calm and reassuring voice of the narrator leads us through the film. His guidance provides the structure. But can he be trusted and what is lost in translation? Only the one who speaks all the languages of the world, maybe the devil itself, could understand everything.

Therefore, Fausto deals not just with the new politics of image-creation but of language itself. How can we fully seize the meaning of what is being said if we only understand each other through the mediator, the translator. We have to believe what is being told to us and it’s the question of belief that seems crucial to this film. Roger Koza said that one of the most beautiful things about cinema has always been the possibility to explore the systems of belief, and to do so without reacting as we usually react in life, with a shadow of a doubt, because in cinema there’s a generosity and unwritten commitment to images and sounds that allows us to be another position openly. It is this openness that let us dive into the riveting landscapes and characters of Andrea Bussmann’s work which, similar to Kitso Lynn Lelliott’s spatial configurations in the gallery context, captures visual constellations on camera in order to transforms us to new geographies of thinking and feeling.

Directing, script, photography and editing: Andrea Bussmann
Production: Andrea Bussmann, Nicolás Pereda
Cast: Gabino Rodríguez, Víctor Pueyo, Fernando Renjifo, Ziad Chakaroun, Alberto Núñez
70 min.
México-Canadá, 2018