People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose (John Torres)

By Desistfilm Staff

Part one of our “brief snippets” coverage of the Lima Independiente 2017 Film Festival.

John Torres’ People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose, makes echo of some motifs of Celso Ad Castillo cinema, who in his moment was called the “Philippine Enfant Terrible“, a title that now corresponds to Khavn de la Cruz, the standard bearer of a genre based in sexual themes and its aberrations, used to talk about some social contexts of a Philippines which is constantly mutating due to several political crisis. People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose recovers in part the story of a refugee ship of modern slaves, of people feeling to the Philippines, which is seen as a promised land, a view subverted by Torres to place a liberation fantasy towards the power of the images, represented in the figure of Liz Alindogan, whose image is re-appropriated inside the film discourse.

Paris est une fête – Un film en 18 vagues is an achievement on itself, since it shows that George’s experimental documentary expressive tools are far from being exhausted. The chose of video photography, which dwells on the physical unique details of its characters, and which had successfully worked in Qu’ils Reposent En Révolte (Des Figures De Guerre) is revisited again, and shows the body as a canvas of suffering, struggle and search of identity (with the element of human hands having a more than welcome return). In a time where the politics of fear and global policing intend to grab us against a corner, a glimmer of hope is found in this document of mankind, a powerful reminder that our struggle is far from being over. (Extract from this Desistfilm article)

The Royal Lemon Tree (Gustavo Fontán)

Gustavo Fontan’s The Royal Lemon Tree: 6 AM. The writers’ novel in the director’s nightstand. The book and film’s protagonist in the mind of both authors, expressed onirically through words, in movement, through a lens. The man opens his eyes, the ink and the frames will follow him throughout his path. The woman in black interrupts the dialogue between the three creators: the woman in black who is really the creator of the story, absent for six years, in the eternal wait of the hypnotized son, by the noise of what is outside. The woman in black, sole inhabitant of her square meter universe, a space with its own anti gravity that repels everything around it and doesn’t allow her to leave. The writer, the director and the protagonist contemplating the mourning. The time sounds like a river, and the three of them know that it’s time to move.

Spectres are hunting Europe, by Maria Kourkouta and Niki Giannari, avoids to pose certain compassion or pity for the refugees, since it’s difficult to achieve real empathy with its characters this way. They choose to show the refugees in a natural way, in different moments of the quotidian, in their despair, discussion, distension and even singing, acts shown to better understand this people and their difficult decisions. And it’s precisely in this posture where the biggest value of the film is found, something that differentiates it to other observation documentaries like Loznitsa’s Austerlitz, where everything seems to be directed towards a judgement of characters in tour of a concentration camp. The horror is presented ad a background in both films, but while Loznitsa condemns its characters in a totally deliberated way, Kourkouta and Giannari imbues them with humanity, which shows that observation without manipulation can totally manipulate us.

Dead Ears (Linas Mikuta)

In which sense, two films quite opposite from one another can dialogue? Linas Mikuta’s Dead Ears is a documentary that centers its gaze in the relationship of an old father and a mute son, in a rural Lithuania area, while The Road Back is an experimental impressionist film which inquires in the memory of an older son towards his dead mother. This thread of filial encounter, with love in one side and rejection on the other, allows us to establish the bonds that formally and argumentatively drive these works apart.

Presented in a double feature inside the “Dialogues” section of Lima Independiente Film Festival, both films establish their links from the sensibility towards the parents and the reaction of the children. In Dead Ears, the series of actions that allow us to check the awful interaction is evident, not only because of the son’s disability, which is seen as the cause of this familiar mistreating cemented in the isolation of their home, but also because of the forced coexistence between the father and his son. Linas Mukta slowly shows two layers: one with the son in his work with cattle, and the other with the father, pushing his son to do things the way he wants them done.

There’s a clear side of solitude, that Mikuta translated to the atmospheres of the woods and the fog which absorbs it all, while a family in crisis strives to escape the place without luck. However, setting an antithesis, the filmmaker allows the son character to assume a paternal role with the animals which he takes care of, in opposition to the aggressive attitude of the father, a role which only is possible from the instinct of protection that is natural to all human beings and that seems lost in the figure of the father. There’s a couple of remarkable shots that allow us to see the son in these quotidian rituals of care of the animals, rituals that become supreme acts of love, which Mikuta knows how to extract with an unseen assertiveness and delicacy. A documentary that could’ve been in the lists of the best of 2016.

The Road Back, in the other side, is a nostalgic search for a place that no longer exists, through a concept or metaphor abused in different cinematographic works: the dwelling of time from the figure of trains, rails and wagons. Wagons as frames in montage that suggest the rhythm of the rails. And from this impressionist bet (sound and visual), the artist and filmmaker Maurits Wouters establishes a perception of time in relation to an absent mother, that little by little materialized in the conformation of a new utopic space, from memory and inserted footage.

The Human Surge (Teddy Williams)

In Teddy Williams’ The Human Surge, this idea of “community in transit” that was also part of his last film I Forgot! (2014) is reinforced by a remarkable use of camera, transferring the human universe (laying a new bridge from the disruptive of the organic waste – urine) to the entomological documentation, in one of the best segments of the film. This circulations, that go from the urban to the underground, to the underground to the jungle, are a path that finally portrays the reality of the virtual world and its relation with the work enviroment. Filmed in a cold blue, the pulse of a company of smartphones and tablets is measured, the same omnipresent dispositiv of every situation: In Philippines, at night, a woman looks for a cybercafe in a rural jungle landscape, while in Argentina, a kid is worried by the lack of Wifi and in Mozambique, a group of kids have sexual fun in front of a webcam in order to make some cash.

Finally, in Djamel Kerkar’s Atlal, a sort of superficial monologue is spoken by a young man dwelling in the streets of Oulad allal. He expresses the idea of travelling to Europe through those complex routes which are so discussed nowadays. Europe, which guilt seems to have dissipated, after almost an entire century of pillaging in all Africa and a half-made decolonization, leaved almost every country in the hand of dictators who seem to alternate with religious-political organizations. The ruins come from back ago and in a bigger scale, in a town which debates between a complex development or the uncertain escape to a Europe that doesn’t seem to remind it was responsible of those ruins.