Mutant Genres: The Realm of Originality

in 53rd Gijón International Film Festival

by Furio Fossati

CosmodramaAmong the most interesting sections presented at FICX 53 were ANIMAFICX, dedicated to animation, and DocuFICX, focusing on documentaries. The section Mutant Genres is maybe the most breathtaking and best curated, presenting the most peculiar movies within genres: thriller, sci-fi, drama and horror are treated in an unconventional way, following FICX’s guidelines that place originality above everything else.

Eight titles, some of them shown at festivals such as Sitges, Berlin or Tribeca, some equally interesting but with less exposure. Cop Car is a US-made movie co-produced and performed by Kevin Bacon, with a particular narrative trend in which comedy, drama and thriller mix together: freakish characters turn into extremely fierce villains. Directed by Jon Watts – who is working on a Spider-Man Reboot still untitled, scheduled to be on the screens in 2017 – tells the story of some kids who are not much cared for by their families. They chance upon a police car parked near the desert. As they approach, they discover that nobody is inside: on the seat lie the keys that could help them embark on an adventure of which they had until then only dreamt and which they had considered impossible. From that moment on, a well-played road movie unfolds, with the sheriff from whom they stole the car chasing them because he has locked in the boot two men who were trying to meddle with his shady traffic. Bacon has a very good skill in playing on the strings of the grotesque and then intensely living the personal struggle of a man experiencing the collapse of his life. The characters of the two kids are well sketched, with their families just named, as they wish to be part of the adult world, dreaming to escape from a reality that can’t satisfy them.

Philippe Fernandez’s Cosmodrama can’t be labelled “sci-fi”, even though the story takes place within a spaceship heading to a destination unknown to its passengers. Such themes remind us of Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky. The screenplay respects the genre conventions, but with a powerful artistic vision that leads to a consideration of the universe, of mankind and God’s existence. It is a chance for Fernandez to smuggle into a movie as soft as a comedy some essential issues which everybody should live up to.

The action is set maybe in the 1960s, maybe in the future. Seven people who don’t know each other; a spaceship that could be a luxury hotel; an awakening after prolonged hibernation imposed by an unknown hand. These people meet and discover each other’s business, starting to figure out why they were put together. The motley group includes is an astronomer, a journalist, a physiologist, a semiotician, a filmmaker, a biologist, a psychologist, and the “wave woman”, as well as a steward. There is also a chimp, who is cared for by the scientists, and an apparently domestic dog. All of a sudden, all these characters acquire a double – and get along with it, except for the astronomer, who has theories that diverge from his clone’s (that is to highlight that scientists often disagree even with their own theories). While the ship travels apparently without a pilot, they have plenty of time to meditate on matter, life, universe, afterlife but, above all, on themselves. Not accidentally is the screenplay divided into 14 short chapters, resembling the Stations of the Cross, an exercise in reverence that consists of lingering in meditation and praying before the icons representing the most significant moments of the passion of Christ. Here are moments of their lives, which they should know themselves and accept in others. ACID, the Association of French and Foreign Film Directors, every year supports nine movies among the most interesting titles: Cosmodrama is in this group. A movie loved by those who make movies.

Edited by Birgit Beumers