Doc Blog

Docs in Wavelengths, Part II
We began to note the crossover of docs into TIFF's Wavelengths section in a post two days ago; and we heard from one of these filmmakers Heinz Emigholz, the director of Schindler's Houses. Here's the second of three installments, highlighting other Wavelengths titles with a documentary impulse:

(Picture: The Butterfly in Winter)

ERZHÄLUNG, which translates as “tale”, by the Swiss artist Hannes Schüpbach, is a silent portrait of 80 year-old Italian sculptor Cesare Ferronato whose life we see, is devoted to artistic process. He seemingly lives sequestered from the world in order to create his works of art. The ordinary quickly becomes extraordinary as Schüpbach carves time, light and darkness with his 16mm camera; we sense the encounter between both artists as ephemeral but somehow everlasting. However understated, the power of art and art-making creates a “tale” not so much told, but felt, and which lingers far beyond the screen.

is a poignant mother-daughter diptych made by friends Ute Aurand and Maria Lang.  The film is part of a trilogy entitled HERE IT IS VERY NICE AT THE MOMENT begun my Aurand and Lang in 1981. This final part is a diary of Maria’s daily tending of her gorgeous, 96 year-old mother, shot with impossible intimacy by Aurand. Everyday is the same, but everyday is vastly different as the rituals of waking, washing, eating and sleeping harbour the truths of our own humanity.

A resounding humanism also comes to the fore in Chris Chong Chan Fui’s KOLAM (POOL), which he shot in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia. Fashioning a touching portrait of a community attempting to rebuild and heal itself following the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that shocked the world, Chong Chan Fui focuses on an unnamed hero who helps the rural children face their fear of water and learn to swim again (in an unused, unattended and abandoned USAid basin), despite having lost everything when the sea came blindingly crashing in. The filmmaker’s quiet observations tell us more than any newscast possibly could.

Similarly, Jean-Marie Straub and the late Danièle Huillet (who died last October) transformed an international news item into an atypical indictment of racial injustice. When they were commissioned to make a film for Roberto Rossellini’s centenary, they instead made a cinetract (protest film in the spirit of May ’68) reminding us of two senseless deaths that occurred on the outskirts of Paris, setting aflame the forsaken banlieus. Two teenage boys were burned alive after they jumped into an electrical converter box, fleeing the brutal hand of the French police. Straub-Huillet took their camera to the death site and recorded a ten minute remembrance of the tragedy thereby transforming Rossellini’s EUROPA 51 into EUROPA 2005, 27 OCTOBRE, the date of the senseless deaths.

Check back next week to read about more docs in Wavelengths.

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