Archivi tag: TFF – 20 novembre 2015

God Bless The Child by Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

Article by: Alessandro Arpa                                                                                         Translation by: Andrea Cristallini

Hush bye bye, don’t you cry, go to sleep little baby, when you wake you shall have all the pretty little horses… Harper is only 14. She sings lullabies at night and in the morning she looks after her four brothers: Elias, a 12-year-old rebel, Arri (8 years), Ezra (5 years ) and Jonah (2 years). Being the elder sister is not necessarily a punishment but it can become something close to it if mum is away, lost in a serious struggle with her self-esteem.

A blend of the cinema verité and a cinematographic remake of Tierney Gearon’s photographs, God Bless the child is the second feature film by Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojda-Beck. The film, which premiered at SXSW Festival in 2015, is the American response to Hirokazu Koreeda’s Nobody Knows. As opposed to the Japanese director’s film, where the mother is an escort, in the work of Machoian and Ojda-Beck she is a depressed woman, a ghost who leaves the house at dawn abandoning her children and comes back at night, while everyone is asleep, except Harper, who has grown up against her will. “Sorry” is her only line in the film, with neither a close-up nor a single frame showing her face. The film drowns in a fog of sadness. Several group scenes are included in the film, with delicate and innocent children songs in the background. In the epic fight between the brothers in the backyard, as they wear boxing gloves resembling Hulk’s hands, game and pain merge and pain eventually makes the loser cry. God bless the child is a vivid and realistic portrait of childhood. And for a change, children are not asked to run after the film, but it’s the film itself that surrenders to their genuine interpretation. And when the sun goes down and everyone is asleep, the door opens and there she is, back again. She gets into bed with her four children, in a shroud that envelopes lonely souls. And Harper is there, staring ruthlessly at her, as life gets harder and harder: hush bye bye, don’t you cry, go to sleep little baby, when you wake you shall have all the pretty little horses.

Riaru Onigokko / Tag by Sion Sono

Article by: Luca Richiardi                                                                                                 Translation by: Cristiana Caffiero

Life is surreal.

There are movies with no soul which just try to step towards any directions without a reason. There are movies that are just empty and dreary. Well, this movie is just their opposite. “Tag” is directed by Sion Sono: it violently breaks in and manages to find a sharp conclusion both in a literal and figurative way. It confuses the feelings and perception of its audience but it doesn’t hide the fact that it has lost the sense of perception itself. This film needs to show its total dismay in order to penetrate the subconscious side of its audience and finally break through its conscious one. However, “Tag” is not addressed to an ordinary audience, for the simple reason that the movie is directed by Sion Sono. It’s a typical Japanese film with its peculiar artistic language which could by perceived as unfamiliar by a western audience, or at least by an audience not acquainted with Japanese pop culture.
This kind of audience might fail to notice the potential for social criticism hidden behind an excess of grotesque violence, which may appear then as empty divertissement: what has been defined, in jargon (particularly in the world of anime, manga and videogames enthusiasts) sa fanservice.
What exactly is fanservice? Excessive and pointless violence, schoolgirls in extra short miniskirts which are constantly lifted, eroticism, promiscuity, reification of the woman.
Tagcontains all these elements. It’s thrown onto the screen in a shameless, exaggerated, intentionally provocative way, as if to ask: “Is this what you want?” As the film unravels, laughing at all this becomes a gesture that makes the spectator feel guilty.
This collage made of absurdities, which people may have fun in, is a heaven for “nerd” teenagers and hides a cruel and dreadful hell. It reveals itself step by step, while we follow the young female protagonist Mitsuko in her absurd suffering.
Among all this violence, torture and death, her loss of identity is what mostly harms. It makes her appear to be an empty box or a mannequin identical to many others. She looks as a figure, whose not uniform nature may be compared to that of Jesus and therefore doomed to sacrifice. It is a kind of essential sacrifice, a spontaneous gesture which gets away from this torture pattern felt as a function of a sadistic pleasure. And it takes place exactly in front of a parody which blames and despises these masses of obsessive fans.
What is such a heroic sacrifice aimed at? It is understood, its aim matches the film’s one: a sabotage internal to the system so that it can penetrate deeper and, hopefully, it can be able to reach and consequently wake up consciences, in order to take them away from this grotesque circle of hell.


La France Est Notre Patrie by Rithy Panh

Article by: Alberto Morbelli                                                                                           Translation by: Lorenzo Matarazzo

TFFDOC section opens with a quite interesting work by director Rithy Panh, a documentarist of Cambodian origins, who has always made a point of his research on social inequities, sometimes experienced personally. The film “S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine”, presented and awarded at Cannes in 2003, is a case in point; the consequences of the regime forced him to run away from his native Cambodia to find shelter in France, where he began his film studies.

“La France est notre patrie” starts with a sequence showing an overwhelming and devastating jungle which swallows with its roots the area of a house that does not belong to such a landscape. This is probably a metaphor for the topic that the director intends to take on in this work.

The documentary narrates in a personal way the history of the French colonies in Indochina for the whole course of the “rêve”. Rithy Panh softly deals with these issues, without ever stating his anticolonial opinions. The extracts were selected from film footage (silent, black and white and in colour). They show the various aspects of the Federation of French colonial possessions in Indochina: they’re scenes of daily life with its faces, constructions of great public works, industrialisation and agriculture. They seem like beautiful scenarios made out of progress and exploration of this foreign and exotic land, the way France saw it at the time.

Skilfully, the director manages to weave a story based on the encounter and clash between two worlds. He identifies and shows throughout the narration two opposed protagonists: the colonising “white man” and the indigenous “bon sauvage”. He lets the archive footage, interspersed with his tableaux, do the talking. The captions reassure the public on the reason why it’s crucial for the colonising mission to prove successful for everyone’s sake, just like a newsreel of that time would have. It’s up to the editing and soundtrack, however, to give us the first clues about the goal that Rithy Panh wants to achieve. A message that slowly reveals itself, getting us farther and farther away from what we see and read.
It is an intimate process of awareness and discovery for the audience. Images and meanings develop as two parallel lines, only meeting as a result of personal reasoning. Thus, the self-proclaimed colonial reality becomes its very own condemnation. An acute expedient which turns the flowing of time into a weapon which acts as a boomerang.

The documentary constitutes a fascinating history lesson on the events that occurred during the colonization of Indochina, as well as a profound consideration about what we perceive in the present time. The eyes looking at those images have changed. Our society has a different take on that material now. It is a subtle social criticism on past historical events and on contemporary too. Undoubtedly, as the above-mentioned beginning sequence teaches us: nature swallows with time anything produced by white man with the alibi of progress. In conclusion, all communities should be the one and only rulers of themselves or it will be for posterity to judge.