Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Memory, the Future and Experimental Films

When I lived in Malawi, I lived close to the Mozambique border, a border that it was then considered dangerous to cross because of the war going on. So I was intrigued to see the film Dress Rehearsal for Utopia, which is set partly in Mozambique.

This is very definitely an experimental film, a cine-poem perhaps, along the lines of Man Ray's Emak Bakia (which was featured in In Search of Emak Bakia, which I reviewed here). To start with I let the Dress Rehearsal wash over me and I was drawn in by various scenes - vivid green grass and red sand; a dog playing on a beach; historical footage from a classroom where students were being taught about Revolution and footage of fish and a hermit crab in an aquarium. Unfortunately though I found myself irritated by the soundtrack, which although it occasionally featured some lively Mozambiquan music and lovely birdsong, was mostly made up of a weird whirring sound like an audio cassette being wound backwards. No narrative and barely any dialogue.

The film centres on the death of the film-maker's father in Venzuela and is made up of flashbacks of memories of Mozambique and Venice. The jumping between scenes and the lack of narrative work successfully evoke the feeling of memories that haunt us. However, these were memories that too often felt like home movies and over an hour of someone else's home movies with no narrative to provide context can become a little tedious.

If you love experimental cinema, this is one for you, there are moments of real beauty in here, but if you like narrative and story, this may not be your style of film. 

Future My Love is also an experimental film but one with a lot more narrative. The director Maja Borg follows in the footsteps of her Italian lover Nadya Kazan as she looks for a new way of life and a new way of thinking in the USA. The trail leads to the Venus Project, where Jacques Fresco explores enthusiastically and optimistically ways of creating a new environmentally friendly lifestyle through the use of technology. Although I don't agree with all his ideas, I'm a lot more cynical about technology for a start (and I was surprised that a so called sustainable building had a flushing toilet instead of a composting one!) Fresco is certainly an inspiring and thought-provoking thinker.

The film weaves the personal and the political together, to an extent that is rarely tried. Black and white scenes of Kazan being mysterious and wandering through the world are inter-cut with scenes at the Venus Project and with the related Technocratic Movement. Borg's poetic narrative combines her thoughts about her relationship with Kazan with her thoughts about potential economic and ecological collapse.

It's not always a straight forward film and the over emphasis on technology as a way of solving ecological problems may not fit with every environmentalist's world view, but the thought provoking ideas about how to deal with economic collapse are certainly very timely.

Both these films are part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and you can see them at:

Dress Rehearsal for Utopia:  20:00, 28 June; 19:00, 29 June, both in Filmhouse 3
Future My Love (directed by Maja Borg) 20:30, 29 June, Cineworld 5; 16:35, 1 July Cineworld 11

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival and attended free press screenings for these films.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more.

1 comment:

Naquillity said...

if the visuals told a strong story i'd probably be okay with this but mostly i like explanation as i go through the story with the actors.