A Side / B Side By Violeta Kovacsics

in 10th Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema

by Violeta Kovacsics

Ken Jacobs’ Return to the Scene of the Crime “returns” to the prime image of Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son and digs into it. Using digital tools, Jacobs explores all the possibilities of the frame and the action in one of the most beautiful, funniest and most interesting films about cinema itself. The first moment with sound in Return to the Scene of the Crime is when the film focuses on the figure of the flautist whose music is created and isolated. This is just one of the many details the film explores. Image versus sound: shown as an exception among the silence, this unique, short sound highlights the relevance of music in cinema in a film that, in actuality, is principally concerned with the creation and destruction of images.

With an entire section dedicated to music, this year’s Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente offered a very good selection of films that featured music or musicians as the main character. The ghost of Joy Division’s lead singer was conjured up by two very different films — Grant Gee’s documentary Joy Division, and Anton Corbijn’s fictional Control. While Corbijn’s film tells Curtis’ story through his thoughts and lyrics, Gee’s documentary explains it by interviewing some of the people that were around him, especially the other members of the band who, after Curtis’ death, formed New Order.

Control is precisely filmed in black and white, while Joy Division finds its most interesting moments in bootleg material, such as concerts from that period recorded by spectators. Finally, Corbijn bases his screenplay on the memoir of Curtis’ wife Deborah, whose point of view establishes his film’s perspective; Joy Division interviews Curtis’ lover Annik Honoré, while Deborah Curtis remains unseen. Positioned as the A side and B side from the same record, these two films about Joy Division’s leader are the best way to pay homage to one of the most important musicians in the history of popular music.

In a festival where some filmmakers also performed as deejays, music was an awesome guest: From Argentinean experimental musician Kagel in Süden to a Bob Dylan with multiple faces in I’m Not There; from Julien Temple’s complex interpretation of Joe Strummer’s way of living and thinking in The Future is Unwritten to Romuald Karmakar’s direct portrait of electronic music in Between the Devil and the Wild Blue Sea. BAFICI screened all sorts of films, but also offered different perspectives on music.

Extra track: Return to the Scene of the Crime was screened in Ken Jacobs’ “focus”, while Between the Devil and the Wild Blue Sea was programmed in Romauld Karmakar’s retrospective. There were more than twenty focus and retrospectives, the difference between them being that a retrospective is a complete filmography, while a “focus” screens only a portion of a given director’s work. Just one small detail from a huge program that demonstrates BAFICI’s concern about filmmakers and their oeuvres.