Perhaps it will sound too subjective, but sometimes there are days at major film festivals that seem organized by their own internal story.
For example, on Wednesday, July 17, the events here developed precisely in accordance with dialectical spiral: thesis-antithesis-synthesis.
In the morning, the directors participating in the International Competition tried to make the audience laugh. In The Man Who Bought the Moon (Paolo Zucca, Italy-Argentina-Albania), a secret agent from Northern Italy investigates a strange case: someone in Sardinia took over the rights for… the Moon. The guy undergoes the training “of the real Sardinian man”, comes to the island to investigate, but exposes himself in the very first bar. He is rescued from furious locals by the fisherman who actually bought the Moon. So, this the clash of cultures, the opposition of the common people and the corrupt government is the luxurious material. But all jokes, gags and reprises are predictable, and therefore their accuracy is very questionable.
A Chinese author Luo Hanxing in the Uncle and House is trying to act more subtly: he made a story about a character who has trained abroad for psychology, but after returning home he became a bandit. In parallel, several more lines are developing. Everything claims for a satirical city comedy, but somehow it doesn’t work, doesn’t satisfy, falls apart.
We were not lucky enough to laugh, but at least we had some moments of sadness. In the afternoon the Russian drama Beanpole was shown to the full theatre as a part of the non-competitive Festival of Festivals section. The film of the Kabardino-Balkar Kantemir Balagov, produced by the former inhabitant of Kyiv Oleksandr Rodniansky, was awarded for best direction of the program The Special Sight of the Cannes Film Festival.
As you know, the Russian cinema industry is a controversial topic. Moreover, the initial data didn’t give much cause for optimism, because the setting here is a military hospital in the post-war Leningrad in 1945-46.
But, contrary to fears, there was no pathos and propaganda. Miraculously, Balagov managed to get quite a universal story out of the banal material. Two young women, former fellow soldiers Ilya and Masha are trying to find a meaning to live on; childbirth seems to be the best way out, but Masha cannot have children because of the injury. The danger of melodrama is eliminated by the director, he turns the story to an unexpected channel, completely breaking what is now called “gender roles”. It is a movie about ordinary people who don’t just survive – they live to the fullest, and this beautiful arbitrariness becomes a challenge in itself.
And finally, the antithesis – the enchanting end of the day.
The trio The Tiger Lillies is a legend of the British music scene. They play a mixture of Berlin cabaret of the Weimar Republic times, anarchic Opera and Gypsy music. Their costumes and makeup are the hallmarks of the group – they are kind of creepy and cynical jesters. The band’s art has been described as “surrealist pornography”. Their lyrics cover dark aspects of life, from prostitution and drugs to abuse and despair. In short, no one can sing so cheerfully about the Apocalypse and the end of all hopes.
The black and white tape The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Robert Wiene (1920) is the basic work of German expressionism, and perhaps the world’s first thriller. It is an absolutely crazy story about a sinister doctor and a somnambulant killer – required to study in all universities.
And these two most valuable cultural artefacts – “Lillies” and “Caligari” – met at the Odesa Green Theatre in the evening of July 17. The Tiger Lillies performed as tapers. Then they performed some of their most famous songs. Witty, sarcastic, bittersweet. The perfect soundtrack for an expressionistic work. In which, let me remind you, the main motive is a deep mental disorder.
I will take the liberty of saying that this film session will go down in the history of the Ukrainian festival movement.
To be continued.
Dmytro Desyateryk, The Day – specially for opinionua.com