This morning I watched two feature films. The first one was by Catarina Ruivo, a thirty something Portuguese film director. Entitled “Andre Valente”, her debut film is about an eight-year old boy who had to cope with a lot of painful separations – first from his father Joao, then from his girlfriend Susanna, and also from his Russian friend Nicolai.
The second movie I saw was entitled “Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors”, a black and white film by the Korean director Hong Sangsoo. What is so remarkable about it is not the undressing of the fine-looking virgin girl but the dissection of this movie into two halves. The first half is presented from the perspective of the two men who wanted to have sex with the girl. The second part is the retelling of exactly the same story (read: the same scenes, the same dialogues), but this time from the perspective of the girl.
During lunch I was seated with Ariel, a French film critic who also teaches at a Parisian university. We chatted about – what else – but films. I studied film history more than a couple of years ago and I was pleasantly surprised that I could actually recall old filmmakers like the Lumiere Brothers, Sergei M. Eisenstein, Andrej Tarkovsky, etc. and the titles of their movies. Remembering pioneering filmmakers was important in our chat because Ariel made mention of some of their films and thus I could relate to his views.
“No one can understand everything. And I think that is good.” That’s a line from the movie I saw after lunch. The title “To Damascus” does not sound inventive nor multilayered but in reality the film was both. Directed by Jeppe Debois Baandrup, Morten Kjems Juhl and Michael Madsen, the film was more like a dreamplay, an inner journey of man who reflects about the spiritual vacuum of our time. The number of questions raised by the main character was much more than the answers he found.
The last film I saw today was entitled “For The Living and The Dead” – a story about a Finnish family which experienced the painful loss of their youngest child in a fire accident. In meticulously executed scenes, director Kari Paljaka portrayed the sentiments and pains involved in confronting your own child’s death.