Feeling Dizzy By Zlatko Vidackovic

in 48th San Francisco International Film Festival

by Zlatko Vidackovic

Like New York , San Francisco is a town that is often used by the directors as a film location. With all the respect to the choice of eleven movies that the FIPRESCI Jury had to see on the festival, I must sincerely admit that the San Francisco film locations had a stronger impact on me than most of the movies. Especially interesting were the locations seen during the «Vertigo Tour» (organized by the Festival) and the visit to Alcatraz .

Out of eleven movies, I liked three that are certainly not new to regular festival visitors, as they have been shown on several other festivals in the past. My favourite was the violent family drama, Brazilian «Contra todos» (2003, shown in Berlin 2004) by Roberto Moreira. Set in Sao Paolo, this movie is filled with drugs, sex and murders, but not nearly like in the Hollywood movies; it is very disturbing mainly because all this is very authentic and realistic. Sincere emotions are rare for the characters of this movie: the father of the family demands prayers before lunch, and at the same time beats his daughter, cheats his wife and works as professional killer. The movie was shot on digital video with a handheld camera, witch provided extra suspense. «Contra todos» is certainly one of the most powerful new Brazilian movies, and it is a pity that is has not won any festival nor critics awards yet.

The other good movies were Bosnian «Days and Hours» and Italian «Private » (winner of Locarno 2004). Apart from these films the Festival offered us the possibility to see some new films that we would probably never see in our countries, like the ones from Angola , Malaysia or Albania . It was an interesting new experience, regardless of their artistic quality.

“Vertigo Tour” was something really special. As I have recently seen my favourite Hitchcock’s movie “Vertigo” on the big screen in Berlinale (apart from watching the restored version on the DVD several times) I knew every detail of the movie, but the tour exceeded my expectations. From the first moment, when we entered the mini-van, we were introduced to the world of Hitchcock’s movie with the Bernard Hermann’s taunting score. While we were driving around the town, feeling like Scottie when he was following Madeleine, our guide, a real expert in Hitchcock movies, told us the history of all the locations where the film was shot.

Some of them where ghost locations: “McKittrick” hotel was demolished, Ernie’s restaurant was closed a few years ago. San Juan Bautista Mission is not included in the tour because it is too far (however it has no tall tower like the fake one in the movie), but we were able to visit the oldest building in San Francisco , Mission Dolores (founded in 1776), that has not changed a bit – even the flowers look the same! You cannot jump from the Fort Point by the Golden Gate Bridge where Madeleine did – the place is full of rocks and there are no stairs for somebody to get you out. The Palace of the Legion of Honor has not got the painting of Carlotta Valdez, but has many masterpieces of European old masters one can admire for hours, and an impressive collection of Rodin’s sculptures. Scottie’s apartment is in the lower part of the famous Lombard Street , one of steepest street in san Francisco (40-degree slope) – it is almost impossible to stay still on the street or get out of the car. At the end of the tour the “Vertigo” sensation was complete: the vertiginous streets were enough to make us dizzy, even without acrophobia.