Thursday 1 November 2012

Three Films - Viennale Edition

Damien Ounouri's Fidaï is a documentary about the experiences of his great uncle during the Algerian revolution working for the FLN in France. He experiments with how to portray memory on screen, how to tell the story of a man who assassinated a political enemy for his ideals. The film is more concerned with the question of duty (in the sense of the duty of the fidaï - literally the "self-sacrificer" - to the movement and the duty of the contemporary witness to tell his tale, in spite of how his surroundings will react) than that of guilt, and relies on the audience to be aware of the historical context, only providing a montage of shocking pictures of the war and the atrocities. Fidaï is the story of an individual and a documentary about story-telling more than an attempt to tell the history of the revolution, and completely succeeds in that regard. 

Fidaï (2012), directed by Damien Ounouri

De jueves a domingo is a beautifully told story about a family on a road trip through Chile, told mostly through the perspective of the daughter, who slowly puts together the pieces of how her parents' marriage is falling apart through observed fights behind windows, a secret affair that evolves as the film progresses. The film perfectly captures the inability to understand the whole picture, and is at its best when it focuses on small significant moments between the members of the family. The daugher is the important bit older than her brother and understands more than he does. There is a moving scene of jealousy when she sees her father teach him how to drive, a hilariously reckless attempt by the father to steal forbidden fruit from a stranger's garden, a precarious sense of community when the family joins another on the road for a couple of days - and throughout all of this, the precision in portraying the workings of the family unit is fascinating and capturing. 

De jueves a domingo (2012), directed by Dominga Sotomayor Castillo, featuring Santi Ahumada, Emiliano Freifeld, Paola Giannini, Francisco Pérez-Bannen, Jorge Becker, Axel Dupré.

Wadjda is one of the few examples of movies that seem to be made to become an instant classic, a universal tale about individuals, astonishingly acted especially by the young lead. Wadjda, an approximately ten-year old girl going to school in Saudi Arabia, is extremely industrious and sets her mind to earning enough money to buy her own bike, despite the fact that bike-riding girls are frowned upon. Surrounded by females who take small steps of resistence against the suffocating social limitations, she proves extremely resourceful in the face of overwhelming obstacles. While her mother struggles with the fact that her father is about to take a second wife because she is unable to give him a son, she joins a club to win a religious contest. The film is surprisingly hopeful, and the tenderness between the characters provides an emotional respite in these dire circumstances. Perhaps a perfect movie.

Wadjda (2012), directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, featuring Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Ahd, Sultan Al Assaf.

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