TIFF 2018. WAVELENGTHS: ADA KALEH BY HELENA WITTMANN AND SIRA BY ROLLA TAHIR

This entry was posted on September 10th, 2018

Ada Kaleh (Helena Wittmann, 2018)

By Aldo Padilla

The history of the extinct island of Ada Kaleh reminds us of Jia Zhang-Ke’s Still life background story: a hydroelectric plant whose construction destroys the surrounding towns with the excuse of the unlimited need for energy. The case of this Turkish island had a similar fate with its disappearance during the 70’s. The idea of ??a ghost or a submerged island is represented by Wittmann in the beginning of her short film with a wall where the humidity has left traces of a kind of map, with the remains of paint that cling to the surface. Meanwhile, a mandarin voice recites a poem about people in search of a territory. The invented map of an imaginary island, the occult map of a submerged island, with people floating in its nonexistence, a map that seems to show countries that do not welcome the wandering ghosts, because they cannot be determined.

The contemplation of this “poetry of the non-existence” is translated to a house, where the camera slowly rotates, circling the space while people whose words cannot be determined become part of the furniture. At this point Ada Kaleh recovers  Wittmann’s signs of identity, the closed space and the windows that recall Wittmann’s 21.3°C and the claustrophobic circular motions of The wild. The only contact with the outside is the sound that enters in torrents, meanwhile, one can barely recognize what is outside through the windows . It’s possible then to find those people who wander in the middle of a map that is falling apart. The light enters silently, while the foreground of many plants give the sensation of living in an artificial nature, transforming itself into a way of understanding that whatever this isolated house and its content possesses, is the only thing  necessary to move forward.

Sira (Rolla Tahir, 2018)

The reconstruction of childhood memories can be done artificially, while the images of others and the intimate montage can become a personal blog. The Kuwaiti director Rolla Tahir takes advantage of this premise to reconstruct her long odyssey in Sira, which recounts her escape from the war in Kuwait, bound to Sudan, the land of their ancestors,  which becomes alien to her while facing this new reality.

The lack of clarity of memories is accentuated by the distortion of the images presented, green backgrounds that seem to be taken from an old television broadcast and archives of Jacques Madvo’s documentaries. The appropriation of the memories of a country punished by its neighbors is contrasted with the daily and almost festive images of the oil country. The route that divides the different parts of the short film goes starts with the hope of escape in the refugee camps in Jordan, dealing with a complex passage through Iraq and a difficult choice between Egypt and Sudan. The frantic montage is interrupted when it reaches the final goal that is Canada, in which the film is diluted between corroded images, like the maps of Wittmann, the continuous return to a Kuwait destroyed by bombs and reconstructed by the film frames and time.

WAVELENGHTS 2: Another Brick In The Wall
Ada Kaleh
Director: Helena Wittmann
Country: Alemania
Year: 2018
Duration: 14 min 

WAVELENGHTS 3: Centerfold
Sira
Director:  Rolla Tahir
Country: Canada
Year: 2018
Duration: 6 min