Courtisane festival, notes on cinema, 23nd edition, 27 - 31 March 2024
We Saw continues Peter Todd’s enquiry into domestic spaces – the garden, in particular – and the revelatory power of seeing the known world afresh. As though a search for the essence of things, the film is a gradual clearing, in shy and understated form, of the mundane or quotidian to reveal the wonder within – even within this house, this garden.
Kopfüber im Geäst (Hanging Upside Down In The Branches)
A montage of brief recollections filmed before the death of the fiilmmaker’s mother and father. “Hanging upside down in the Branches is, in some way, a diary film, but one that records sensual phenomena rather than narrative event. Or, perhaps more properly stated, Aurand generates flashes of illumination, collecting them from the slow drift of everyday existence, allowing them to achieve a hieratic character. And yet, in their filmic arrangement, in the assembly and temporal re-experience, they become a different kind of narrative, a story of us all that insists on absolute particularity, insisting that these images only mean anything because they are of these people who Aurand has deeply loved.” (Michael Sicinski)
Margaret Salmon creates filmic portraits that weave together poetry and documentary. Focusing on individuals in their everyday habitats, her slow-moving films capture the minutiae of daily life and infuse them with gentle grandeur to touch upon universal human themes. “It is the ghost narrative in mundane tasks that I find interesting. Having been inspired by Soviet and US propaganda films from the 40’s onwards as well as the Cinema Vérité and New Wave movements in the west, I feel drawn to portraying the common struggle of working class subjects. Often filming the daily activities of people close to me, I attempt to reveal the dramas, tensions, and beauty within these characters.” (MS)
For 5 days Sarah Vanagt and cinematographer Annemarie Lean-Vercoe followed a donkey during its weekly visits to old people in nursing homes in South England. From home to home, from room to room. Each time the donkey was welcomed warmly, with greetings, songs, strokes, childhood stories, poems, and laughter. Until the donkey entered the room of Norbert, a man who lost his ability to speak, yet not his ability to touch. Even though Vanagt initially followed the donkey’s steps in search of reminiscences brought about by the animal’s mute presence, she came home with an altogether different film. While editing, the film became shorter and shorter, as if the words that had accompanied the donkey’s visits got in the way. What is left is perhaps a bas-relief disguised as a painting, disguised as a film.
Na Vespera (In the Eve)
Nadine, a 14-year-old teenager, lives with her mother and grandfather on a hill in central Portugal. Her teen dreams are reflected in this empty, coarse, but natural environment. Nadine has a special bond with her mother Vera, who was 14 years old when Nadine was born. Vera’s past and Nadine’s future are tangled in this specific moment in their lives. It is not always clear who takes care of who, who is the woman and who is the girl. “Na Vespera is the result of 8 years of close friendship between the characters and the filmmaker. It can be seen as a tribute to the characters, made with a great deal of personal investment, patience and respect. Life and film are very close. Years of observation preceded the film’s making. Because of this, the movie can give a feeling of proximity with the characters and yet, there is a great distance maintained. The camera helps in creating this distance, in a static way it observes their daily life, proposing a mixture of documentary images and mise-en-scène.” (LK)