Here's Looking at You By Paulo Portugal

in 26th Miami International Film Festival

by Paulo Portugal

Involuntary (De Ofrilliga) imposed itself as a clear winner of the FIPRESCI prize as the last film screened in the World Competition at the Miami Film Festival. It was also clear that the program chosen by Tiziana Finzi was an open window of films in search of truth. In the radical and most commented Bullet in the Head (Tiro en la cabeza), from the talented Spaniard Jaime Rosales, we took a voyeur position, observing the refusal of dialogue and forced to embrace random action as the ultimate clue for the viewer to find his or her own truth. Those who stayed until the revealing end experienced a clear message in which showing was far more important than telling.

With the same style of reality and voyeurism, the New Yorker of Brasilian descent, Antonio Campos, approached the youtube generation in Aftershool. While following two popular siblings in school, an adolescent captures by accident their death by an overdose. Paradoxical, the reverse side ends up being the documentary he’s asked to shoot to their memory. His version (not accepted by the school) is, in fact, an exciting DIY cinema, with refreshing and creative moving images.

The same suggestion of alternative ways of looking at reality through film is portrayed in Hooked (Pescuit sportiv), directed by the inspired young Romanian Adrian Sitaru. Even if the liberal use of subjective shots doesn’t add much to the open story of a couple who end up being manipulated by a hooker (the lovely Maria Dinulescu).

In some of the narrative fragments of Ruben Östlund’s Involuntary we are close to the same youtube generation, but what’s most striking is the way the several storylines depict different approaches on how individual actions get surrounded by the effect of the group. It could be the child that ends up choosing the wrong answer to please the teacher and the fellow students who (intentionally) disapproved of any choice she would take in order to cement her levels of self confidence. Or the innocence of a little kid that accepts the guilt of damaging something he didn’t, to the despair of the guilty adult who remained in silence. What is brilliant is the dillema of speaking or not speaking, and the unconventional camerawork, most of the time opting to be still when it should be moving. But, as the actor Leif Edlund said in his q&a, after the screening, it’s “more a group of moving images than a film”. They come and go like time. What stays is a refreshing insight on comunication and cinema.

Unfortunately, nothing similar in the docudrama I Want to See (Je veux voir) in which Catherine Deneuve observes the destruction of Lebanon during a few hours in the country before a reception. It’s sad that the attitude of seeing or observing only exists here with the presence of a diva who is much more seen than what she is seeing. Pity.