Visits to cinema showcases around the world
The curators ask in the program notes, Can remembrance fix a broken world? At the core of this inquiry into the world, and the status of the human within its historical, sociopolitical, technological, and ecological parameters, lies the emphasis on feeling.
There was a fair amount of expectation for this year’s Midnight selections to contain the next iteration of meaningful, shocking, or gossip-inspiring titles that could also be talked about as layered, complex examinations of real-world issues.
In their ambivalence and open-endedness, these films paradoxically brought me closer to a kind of emotional release than any other films in the festival, managing to capture our current state of uninterrupted dread and malaise in a way that feels comfortingly familiar.
This year there wasn’t as much awkwardness in the form of glitchy, poorly synced Zoom interviews, as one might have expected, though the same can’t be said for the sometimes verbose, overly grave ways that some filmmakers talked about their projects.
While I tend to chafe at categorizing directors based on gender, each of these films is richer as a result of their lived experience as women, and the particular struggle of searching for agency in a world that limits it.
As a viewer and participant, I was increasingly aware that the objective of the festival was to be a space in which we questioned and looked closely at the historical work and power imbalances that have long existed within the documentary form.
Eloy Enciso’s Endless Night, Maya Da-Rin’s The Fever, Gabino Rodríguez’s My Skin, Luminous, Affonso Uchôa’s Seven Years in May, Ben Rivers and Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Krabi, 2562, Philipp Fleischmann’s Austrian Pavilion, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s This Action Lies, Annie MacDonell’s Book of Hours, Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral, and more
Filmmakers are actively pushing up against what it means to make a documentary at all, and the True/False Film Festival caters to and nurtures that objective. I am especially thankful to True/False for exposing me to new possibilities for Black cinema.
"It was always really interesting for me that, especially if you are improvising in a film without much preparation for your character, you are drawing on your own life and then your own life is a thing that ends up in the film, and that is . . . complicated."
Berlin 2018: Loznitsa is an assiduous practitioner of observational cinema. One may even argue that his nonfiction filmmaking is to the study of spaces charged with political memory what Frederick Wiseman is to the exploration of institutions.
While the selection includes both fiction and nonfiction films, the slant toward documentaries is pronounced: this year, out of the 15 films presented in the international competition, the vast majority were documentaries or fiction/nonfiction hybrids.