The Hedonists (2016)

By Desistfilm

Days five and six and the festival is near its ending. Among some amazing retrospectives and restored versions of old masterpieces, here are some reviews of the films we’ve seen these days:

In his last film, The Hedonists, Jia Zhang-Ke explores the territory of political satire through the story of a group of Chinese employees who suddenly lose their job when the old mine where they used to work suddenly closes. The firing doesn’t discriminate: all employees lose their jobs. Then, these hedonists (main characters) assume their new status with a good spirit, and search for a new job among jokes and general good humour, finding gigs as entertainers in an amusement park or as security guards. This is a clear critique, a look of China as a country which reinforces appearances, a tech paradise of cheap labor.

Another look on labor is seen in Kiro Russo’s Viejo Calavera, a film about light and darkness, about the story of Elder Mamani, a miner who gets in trouble with society in a mining town. This conflict is reflected as a visceral fight against an inhumane job, in an infra-world of artificial lightning, riddled with diseases. In Russo’s film, we see the miners inhabit a world of shadows, while they are below the ground or at night when they’re outside. The film travels among these dim lights and shadows, looking to dissolve itself in a violent shimmer.

Cínicos (2017)

One of the true masterpieces in BAFICI is without a doubt Raúl Perrone’s latest film Cínicos. A powerful work, where an abandoned warehouse becomes a metaphor for a society in decadence. The film not only shows a society in anomie and anarchy, but it’s in this space of communal work, which condenses the crazy physique of an already dedicious societal model, where the alienation and exploitation of work is shown. With Cínicos, Perrone proposes an extraordinary fable dealing with the poetic, as if the film was a post-apocalyptic ship of crazies where the old man, a decayed poet, suffers as a martyr the negation of his verb and its representation .

The Color Wheel was a rediscovery from the Alex Ross Perry retrospective. A film which starts like a light-hearted indie comedy, suddenly gives a brilliant and very disturbing turn for the worse. It’s a strange and very well executed road movie starting Ross Perry himself, and a wonderful Carlen Altman. With its mumblecore spirit and seemingly innocent tone, this film violently drives away from the conventions of independent cinema, a place where the filmmaker seems to be comfortable enough, if not by making things easier for the spectator.

Medea (2017)

In Alexandra Lashitev’s Medea the screen becomes a womb. Filmed in a 4:3 ratio, the best aspect of this film is to center itself in the corporal aspects of its lead character, in creating this space for the development of its narrative during the biological process that takes place in it. This vital space, that reminds us of Andrea Arnold’s resourceful method on her magnificent Fish Tank, limits the space of the image, creating a new space that is sometimes claustrophobic, related to the subject matter: a concatenation of events that occur before a provoked abortion.

Two films that share a subject matter are Liberami by Federica di Giacomo and Espanto by Martin Bechimol and Pablo Aparo. In both films, the beliefs and superstitions are the raw material which is used to achieve the nakedness of a couple of communities that seem to be trapped in time. While both films opt for different gazes and styles inside the documentary genre, its differences are secured in the way they talk about faith and the persistence of their characters against the situation that burdens them.

On to days seven and eight.