The waterfall of cinema into the river of reality By Gabriele Barrera

in 6th Lecce Festival of European Cinema

by Gabriele Barrera

Lecce, 5-10 april, 2005. This year, the European Cinema Festival is in its sixth edition. If we consider European films as an indispensable means of understanding European society, then there emerges from this competition the theme of the search for identity. Collective identity (of a European society under new construction) and individual identity is the same. In the Fipresci Jury Award, entitled Krisana in Latvian (Fallen, directed by Fred Kelemen, also scriptwriter and director of photography) the search and detection themes are very strong. And the search for reality by the anxious protagonist, Matiss (Egons Dombrovskis), is the same search for reality of Fred Kelemen’s cinema-style. The plunging of the eye-camera into reality. The fear and the desire of reality. And meanwhile, the automatic, unavoidable creation of illusions. Perhaps, it is the original paradox of cinema.

One night. One man. One woman. Matiss, an employee of the Latvian national archive in Riga, notices a woman on a bridge. One sight, and desire fills the empty life of the employee. One sound. After passing the bridge, Matiss hears her cry of «help!» and her suicidal fall into the depths. But he falls into the life of that woman. Matiss speaks with a policeman, an odd self-murder-detective (maybe, a strange god, very aged, very tired of understanding the reasons of human loss of identity). And it’s the beginning of an obsession for that woman, totally idealized in Matiss’s thoughts and desires. Like a film-director, he manipulates the reality with fragments of images. He makes a reality with an arbitrary (like Antonioni’s) blow-up of her photography. With a true “director’s cut” of her life. But her true life, her reality, obviously, is very different. Matiss thinks: «I’m the only man who loves that women, and if she lives.». The loss of his illusion (cinema illusion?) is dramatic. When he uncovers that she still lives, she’s safe and sound, Matiss falls into a dark despair. His visions of desire, his sounds, his audio-visual research, his detections are not the reality. The woman lives her life without him (without the cinema?), without the memory of him, of that night, of that bridge, of that fall. Matiss, he’s absolutely powerless. His relation with reality is a painful illusion. And he desires to fall into reality, but he can’t do it , because he considers human relations like a fall , because he’s unable to recognize the activity of his deceitful eye, which creates many illusions, and to get in touch with the life of the other people.

Murnau and Expressionism. The Italian Neorealism. The noir film. Three references of Kelemen’s style. For the excellent control (the control is also the true mental-addiction of Matiss, a contemporary of F. M. Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov), for the brilliant use of the basic, traditional elements of the cinema, Kelemen won the Fipresci Award unanimously. Like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, he creates a style with a strong personality, unmistakable, who joins the modern with film tradition. Matiss, in the end, falls in the grass near the river under the bridge. A film critic can analyse the film with many instruments (psychoanalysis?, semiotics?). But he can’t swim in Fred Kelemen’s style if he can’t fall into it.