Journeys Into Fear By Wilfried Reichart

in 42nd Chicago International Film Festival

by Wilfried Reichart

A boy searching for his father (China); a child for his mother (Russia); midlife crises and family drama (USA); immigrants (Sweden) and emigrants (Poland); loneliness (Thailand); difficult friendships (South Korea) and difficult love affairs (Hungary); social soap opera (Egypt) — these are the themes for the first and second time filmmakers present at the 42nd Chicago International Film Festival. And what do we expect from them? That they show courage, that they go new ways, that they confront us with new themes, experiment with new technologies (e.g. with digital production), search for their personal handwriting. Because they are the future of cinema. But only a few of these dare to do this; most of them want to go the safe way and keep to the conventions of cinema.

With two exceptions: Claudia Llosa from Peru invents for her film Madeinusa a remote village in Peru which nurtures the tradition to sin without shame on Easter weekend. The fourteen-year-old girl in the film tries to free herself of the chains of social and religious conventions and emancipates herself in an act with fatal consequences. Claudia Llosa worked with amateur actors and creates the authentic description of a village society, a microcosm, which poses the question of a society without guilt and fear.

Terrorism, the large current theme of a new fear, is addressed by Julia Loktev in her film Day Night Day Night in a completely new way. It shows a young woman who is prepared in a hotel room by three masked men to enter New York Times Square with a bomb in her rucksack and blow herself up. She follows her path with a digital camera and shows her attempt to stretch out the last moments of her life. There is a strange sense of pity, which is an irritating contrast to the job this woman wants to fulfil.

The digital camera (cinematographer Benoit Debie) creates a great closeness to the main character (Luisa Williams), watching her ideas and her feelings, which are reflected in close up shots of her face. It then shows her in documentary motion on her way through the city. The work with the small camera brings the cameraman and director closer together; their ideas can be realised more directly and personally.

Day Night Day Night mixes types of documentary and fiction and keeps the audience in balance. The film does not provide any explanations for why the young woman feels that she must sacrifice her life as a vocation; nor to show us who is behind the mysterious terror organisation. We also do not find out why the bomb does not go off. And so the young terrorist could also be the victim of an infamous staging.