Nisimazine SATURDAY 15 MAY 2010
A Magazine Published in the framework of a workshop for young journalists By Nisi Masa, European Network Of Young CinemA
Thou shalt not eat thy neighbour: Cannibalism in Cinema
PHOTO by Vincent Bitaud , cast from Sandcastle (Singapore)
Sandcastle: Boo Junfeng
Saturday 15 May 2010/# 1 A magazine published by the NISI MASA in the framework of a workshop with young journalists
with the support of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme of the EU
by Romain Pichon-Sintes
EDITORIAL STAFF Director of Publication Matthieu Darras Editors-in-Chief Maartje Alders
Jude Lister Layout Maartje Alders
Off with their heads!
Contributors to this issue
The very Nisimazine you hold in your hands has one mission: capturing the unfamiliar atmosphere of Cannes. Seeking out whispers, shadows, sparks, rustles, and uncanny smells of a new kind. The far side has its stars too. Its legends, stories and secrets. A whole new world for us to explore and reveal.
Coordinators Joanna Gallardo,
Marion Perrin NISI MASA 99 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010, Paris, France. Phone: +33 (0)9 60 39 63 38
So be sure to keep track of every discovery through our six issues and on www.nisimazine.eu. The Festival is a song, for those who care to read the lyrics.
in Cannes: +33 (0) 6 32 61 70 26 firstname.lastname@example.org www.nisimasa.com
picture of the day
BY DAMIEN RAYUELA
So the world changes, but do we? Same hopes, same fears, same unsurprising surprises. The trick is, we are insatiable adventurers and storytellers. And thanks to this chromosome, the Cannes elevator is full of first and second time directors, short movies, new voices and experiments, new risk-takers. When were you last surprised in a theatre? If you don’t remember, a good prediction of the next time would be in one of the side sections Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, or in Un Certain Regard. Familiar faces can wait, so don’t miss the chance of fresh air.
Roll carpets, roll crowds, and… Cannes! From flashes to sunburns, admiration to jealousy, fiction to lies - let’s call it the "dream sequence" of our lifetime script. Yesterday in Cannes began a circus our jury president Tim Burton might find familiar. Indeed, his fictional adventures all made one thing clear: everything can happen. Two hundred years ago, ceramic artists were sculpting dirt in this very town. Then, conquistadors of the reverie landed on the Lumière Theatre, savaged ordinary life and raised icons, legends and glory. If the silver screen flag is now planted for good, history has taught us to beware of invasions.
Maximilien van Aertryck , Vincent Bitaud Andreea Dobre, Cristina Grosan Mirona Nicola, Romain Pichon-Sintes Erzsébet Plájás, Damien Rayuela Miruna Vasilescu.
© Karé productions
film of the day
Le Nom des Gens
Michel Leclerc (France, 2010) opening SIC
Our names and faces are what the world around us is always confronted with first. They are decisive in the inevitable instant judgement of the first encounter, and yet, we don’t get to choose them. For Arthur Martin in Le Nom des Gens, bearing the same name as 17 000 other citizens and a famous kitchen fabricant is like having ‘Mister Everybody’ tattooed on his forehead. Although in Michel Leclerc’s second feature this actually comes as a benediction on the day Arthur meets Bahia. Because in a France that recently under polemical and tumultuous circumstances started a nauseous quest for national identity, Martin sounds strikingly orthodox and rhymes unmistakably with right-wing. It sounds like a call to arms for Bahia, who’s bathing in pristine liberalism and goes by the slogan "make love not war". Literally.
Le Nom des Gens goes far behind the comedic surface of this synopsis. The seamless script works with recurrent themes, yet what the main characters incarnate is merely their own persona. In contrast to the present of Bahia and Arthur lie their different origins. One has an Algerian father and French hippie mother, the other is Jewish, but they can easily hop into another costume or simply drown out the past in a spiral of silence. While Bahia uses the power of appearances to shift between being Algerian, French or Muslim to reach her goals, Arthur doesn’t really know why he’s uncomfortable telling people that his grandparents were deported, and even less why he doesn’t dare ask his mother who they actually were. The traditional silent meal Arthur has with his parents throughout the movie serves as marker of his evolution. The times when
this lunch was just another regular dull moment in his life are over when he meets the tornado that is Bahia. One hour becomes an eternity, and the silence seems to have grown deeper. When the dialogues stop between the otherwise chatty scenes, it’s not just an absent of noise but the pure essence of taboo. Through its upbeat layer, the film spells out a commentary which one could effectively use as a basis for debate. Leclerc and his cowriter Baya Kasmi have put their fingers on a raw nerve. By layering just the right amount of comedy onto a latent, creeping discomfort of current society, the film leaves us with a refreshing will to act, a welcome feeling of optimism, and a reminder that appearances and surprises go hand in hand. By Maximilien Van Aertryck
Im Sang-soo’s The Housemaid is a remake of Ki-young Kim’s 1960 film, telling the story of a maid who gets involved with her boss - a composer, provoking the wife’s desire for revenge. The film is enjoyable overall, but could be a disappointment for fans of the original. While the 1960 version is a thriller, considered Ki-young Kim’s most expressionistic film, Im Sang-soo softens the edges, developing a narrative structure that is closer to soap-opera. The intention was probably to go beyond imitating the original, but this approach might just be too safe to make
for a caricature of this social class, clearly expressing their exaggerated pretentions about food and wine, for example. It is the humour of these situation that adds a certain flavour to
© Mirovision INC.
Im Sang-soo (South Korea) – Official Selection, in competition the movie exciting. Still, the filmmaker manages to stay true to his style, wrapping the story around women who are both victims and aggressors. The power balance shifts between them, the man being merely a decorative element. He caused the whole situation, but is not responsible for the worsening consequences. With his ample, sensual camera moves, Im Sang-soo illustrates the world of the rich, where any damages can be solved with money. In today’s version of The Housemaid the director goes
the film, which otherwise could have been far below the original. By Mirona Nicola
Nostalgia de la Luz
Gokalp (France) Patricio Guzmán (France/Germany/Chile) –Michael Out of Competition, Special Screening
“We cannot forget our dead”, says a voice in Nostalgia de la
We are all digging up a past, somewhere, and Nostalgia is a film
The curse of oblivion
Luz, meaning that it is our duty to remember them. How can one forget a son murdered by a dictatorial power? Fortunately, or regretfully, the past is hard to kill, and even the origins of the universe are still talking to us. From strata of earth to relics of a civilization, history lives on. Most of all, crimes of the past, despite all the imagination their perpetrators use to hide them, remain as painful and haunting wounds.
softly woven by this metaphor. Here astronomers observe the sky, searching for answers lightyears away above our heads. There women are searching for the bones of their husbands, sons and brothers wiped out by Pinochet’s political repression thirty years ago. Both are in the same Atacama desert in Chile, an empty land that strangely reflects the far reaches of the sky. Massive shots of galaxies create a leitmotiv in the film, as if to remind us of what we are made (the calcium in our bones is the same component as that of the
stars) and where we come from. The film begins with the clicking mechanism of a telescope opening, and the deep noise it generates powerfully evokes the gigantic order of the universe. Guzmán shoots it smoothly, with intimacy. Light permeates the film through fades of a dusty glow. It’s all there: shadows and light, what disappears and what stays. This is a struggle for life. It’s everyone’s responsibility to ban the punishment of oblivion from our societies. By Romain Pichon-Sintes
review NISIMAZINE will be in Cannes for the whole festival, check our blog on
www.nisimazine.eu for extended versions of interviews, videos, photo galleries and more.
Now online: Video of the interview with Boo Junfeng, director of Sandcastle, and his cast.
Tuesday, After Christmas Radu Muntean (Romania) – Un Certain Regard
You are naked. Now start undressing. Or sit comfortably in the cinema and let the big screen do the trick for you. The magic of Radu Muntean’s fourth feature film, Tuesday, After Christmas (Marţi, După Crăciun), must have crept out before the screenings, for it attracted frighteningly long queues in front of the Salle Debussy. Was it the picture of the nude couple in bed in the catalogue? Perhaps the "Romanian New Wave"-effect overflowing the Cannes selection? Or simply the ability of audiences to instinctively sense that they’re about to see something exceptional?
Romanian director Radu Muntean is back in Cannes - after the screening of Boogie last year - to impress audiences once again. This intimate drama involving Paul, his wife Adriana, and his lover, Raluca, begins with naked bodies that continue to undress to the point of moral nudity - when Paul has to choose between the two women. Honest, daring and extremely complex in content, yet simple and clear in form, the film manages to establish a refined balance of convincing depth and nuances of lightness. The sequences, packed with well-written dialogues, are mainly composed of still shots rather than fragmented by editing. The elegant way of sliding the focus is beautifully subtle in guiding our attention, which eventually gets glued to the screen, and then falls off in amazement at the end. An exceptional film and certainly a highlighted regard in this year’s festival selection. By Erzsébet Plájás
PHOTO BY VINCENT BITAUD
Director of Sandcastle (SIC)
Boo Junfeng has with Sandcastle just presented the first Singaporean film that is reclaiming the country’s history. Nothing sensational in its aesthetics, Sandcastle is an important step forward in the pool of taboos, generational conflicts and disturbed collective memories. It’s a personal film that speaks for the youth. In Sandcastle, the young hero is discovering the history of Singapore by breaking family taboos, how similar is his situation to yours? It’s not autobiographical in that sense. What I went through in my family that is in the movie is the part with the demented grandmother, and how the family deals with it. In Singapore and Asian society [in general] there are taboos associated with caring for elderly persons and the involved moral dilemmas. As for the social commentary on collective memory, the parallels between the family’s memory and the grandmother’s, I wanted to develop this idea in the film. Singapore is always looking ahead and we may not always get a complete image of the past. I was researching for the film and saw the photos of the rebellious students protesting, and how willing they were to take action and express their ideas, which is unthinkable for somebody of my generation. We are generally more apathetic to these issues and I think it’s important for them to take ownership of issues that affect them.
This way of telling a coming-of-age story has some Hsiao-hsien and Yang elements. Hou Hsiao-hsien was very briefly my teacher in the film academy in Pusan. Sandcastle and its subject matter could have easily fallen into angsty melodrama. I wanted something more content focused and internalized. I really appreciate Taiwanese cinema and its filmmakers. For my first feature I mimicked some of their elements. What were your visual and aesthetical intentions concerning the film? I wanted to create a portrait of a family. I chose large shots to get a complete picture of the family, while always following the boy to see how he deals with all different situations […] Like I said, it could have been a much more dramatic film, but I felt that I needed to restrain it. I get very tired of angry films. Xiang’s mother totally denies her rebellious years. She’s the missing link between him and his grandparents. Is there a possible dialogue between younger and older generations in Singapore about its history? Yes, there can be a dialogue. I think as with anywhere, older people tend to reminisce. Singapore is very different today from what it used to be, many places are gone and development is just constant. There is a lot of nostalgia for the past, but it’s different than
learning about things that are taboo. We remember what we want to remember. Xiang has been told about the past but not about that certain chapter. Right now the internet is creating a slow revolution. Information is more accessible and it’s shaping a different identity. In the film Xiang decides to go to Malaysia for a short trip. What kind of relationship do young Singaporeans have with Malaysia? A lot of Singaporeans say that Malaysia is like Singapore 30 years ago, and I say this in a good way. It’s a time capsule next to constantly changing Singapore. It has retained an older charm, and gives us an idea of what Singapore once was. Besides that, many Singaporeans have family in Malaysia. Sandcastle is co-produced by the Singaporean Film Commission. Do you see an opening of the authorities for political filmmaking there? So far they have been very encouraging and supportive. I see it as progress; people become more receptive to these subjects. I have to say that I’m not interested in controversy; I prefer social aspects to politics. I’m realizing just now how interested people are for this subject, but the film is more than that. By Maximilien Van Aertryck
in focus Nothing keeps the eyes glued to the screen better than extremes. Cannibalism crawled into cinema from the desire to shock, and the best example is Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. On the other hand, it also led to fine humour in Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen, or later, as Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies from Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd. Another direction is the mind game thriller, like Ridley Scott’s Hannibal or David Fincher’s Se7en. Apart from that, human flesh can also be a warning: similar to the 1973 Soylent Green, this year’s film The Road tries to pull the alarm: when there will be no resources left, what will we eat? In a post-apocalyptic world where the only sweetness is canned as product placement, the answer is: each other. However, shocking subjects can have yet another kind of potential. Somos lo que Hay, a Mexican film selected for the Directors’ Fortnight, explores the fine line between emotional drama and gore. A family of cannibals is faced with a serious problem when the father dies. One of them must now continue the killing tradition for a good cause: feeding his loved ones. “Man is the predator of man and family is the only nucleus for salvation. That is why we look straight into the ruin of mankind, which is not the loss of complex social bonds, but the disintegration of the most fundamental structure of any society, the family”, director and scriptwriter Jorge Michel Grau explains. The plot is based on a short story by the director himself. To adapt it for
both the big screen and contemporary Mexico, a lot of research was required. According to Grau: “This allowed us to understand the process by which a society allows - or provokes - these deviations”. At some point in the process, he studied the Mexican case of José Luis Calva Zepeda. In real cases like this one, it becomes obvious how shock turns into fascination. Aside from the massive press coverage, there are a lot of resources online, and even a fan site. “There is a great number of fans and followers of these cases. Most of the publications and posts I found on the internet belong to followers, and not to researchers or scientists. Many people fall in love, to the point of marriage, with serial killers. Another interesting fact is that there is a large amount of people who collect objects that belonged to these people, such as diaries, drawings, letters”, says the Mexican filmmaker. “Calva Zepeda’s case was exacerbated by the press in my country. It not only made the front page of newspapers, but also deviated people’s attention from important political issues. It turned out everybody knew “The Cannibal from the Guerrero”, a popular neighbourhood in downtown Mexico City”. Before defining the characters, a lot of research was made about cannibalism and religious sects. “We had long film sessions and field exercises, such as visiting slaughterhouses and morgues and watching autopsies. We were advised by a nutrition expert in order to understand the metabolism of a person who would feed himself
with human flesh. Then we were trained on the use of butcher’s tools and knives”, states Grau. To make such a film look plausible, the filmmakers went through an exhausting casting process. The director clarifies: “we searched in theatre schools, workshops, and short films to find the actors that would play the
three siblings. In the end, during the last two weeks of preparation before the shooting, we did an exercise of isolation, where the actors would only have contact with me”. After all this work, what does Jorge Michel Grau expect? “I know the film will get different reactions. It’s not only about a controversial subject, but it also touches sensitive areas of the human condition such as family disintegration. I believe it is a risky concept, as the audience may identify with the characters. However, the best prize the film could get is that the audience comes and watches it. There’s nothing better than that”, he affirms. by Andreea Dobre
Thou shalt not eat thy neighbour
PHOTO BY MIRUNA VASILESCU
"....we are all alien civilizations"
With his second feature The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (winner of Un Certain Regard in Cannes in 2005), Cristi Puiu revived a way of making cinema: raw, straightforward, cynical and clinical. When we first met in a classroom at the Bucharest Film University, he sketched an astrogram for me, with all the weird connoisseur details. This was during the first screenwriting class he held. I find him lying still in a large leather armchair, in the living room of his office. It’s pretty dark. His editor, his producer and a kid’s pink bicycle are in the room. I later see the bike in a sketch of the poster on his laptop. “I didn’t like their artsy proposals, so I sent them my own”, says Puiu. He seems exhausted but calm. Acting in his latest film was extremely tiring, but he’s happy with the result - “I am a lucky guy”. We move to his even darker office. “You should’ve seen the bedroom atmosphere in this room while we were editing the film”, he remarks.
I ask for an outline of Aurora just to get him started, but he resists: “I would betray my film if I tried to put everything in two phrases”. He won’t even say if it’s a crime story. All I can get, after some talking, is that “it’s an enquiry of how we all live in our own heads”. Instead, he talks about Hitler. There’s this legend that he once said: “All those who paint the grass in blue and the sky in green must be sterilized” - so all those who think differently must be punished. But, by saying this, he himself is different, since he’s the only one thinking it. “In a way, Hitler is a sort of a model for my character in Aurora. So then… this film is research of a man who defies patterns”, he affirms. The trigger for Aurora was a night-time TV show he used to watch, with stories about criminals. “I realized there’s something out of this world that makes one eliminate another”, he explains. How does somebody get so detached from his own person that he can commit murder? For Puiu, murder is an
erroneous impulse, a reaction of our brain which misinterpreted some codes. So, how then could one ignore his own brain? He takes a small pause and tries opening the door to the balcony, but it just won’t stay still. “You know”, he continues, “it’s complicated. We are all fighting with our own brains. All the time. Our brain has some fixed data that helps it keep our body alive and protect it. That’s why it has all sorts of mechanical reactions to everything. It assumes, it edits, it keeps certain things without asking for our approval. So then, where’s the real You? The You-You?”. I take a nervous sip of my glass of water. He finished his a long time ago. “This whole living-in-our-head issue can become a real tragedy. Because we can’t get in the other’s head, since we are trapped in our own. We can’t really communicate”. It’s the same with the public that should receive films with a tabula rasa, but, by nature, can’t help judging. They say Aurora is way too long. “Three hours makes half of them faint”, says Puiu with a bitter smile. “But then, what is three hours? We waste
much more time doing nothing, during a day. Three hours is long indeed, if you compare it to a drosophila melanogaster’ s lifespan. I do care about my spectators, but only if they care about me. The spectator can watch my film or not. It’s completely up to him. An artist is laid there, naked, exposing himself, and the public accepts it or not. That’s why, when making a film, I first of all have to be loyal to myself. The rest is only fiction and speculation. We are alien civilizations, each one of us. And we have a hard time decoding ourselves, so how could we understand others?” He says that “if it were up to me, I could work on an endless film. People could walk in and out and watch different pieces of the film, in its different stages”. So, I conclude to myself while he turns off the lights as we prepare to leave, the films that reach us are actually coherent pieces of an intricate and endless journey in Cristi Puiu’s head. By Miruna Vasilescu
design by FLARVET
TorinoFilmLab is delighted to celebrate its ﬁrst two years of activity by announcing the selection at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs of its 2008 Production Award ﬁlm
Le Quattro Volte by Michelangelo Frammartino
Screening: Sunday 16 May at 17:00, Théâtre Croisette
We also take the opportunity of highlighting yet another TorinoFilmLab Production Award 2008 ﬁlm, AGUA FRÍA DE MAR by Paz Fábrega, as winner of a Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2010.
TorinoFilmLab Final Meeting Event November 28-30 2010, in the frame of the 28th Torino Film Festival
A magazine made by NISI MASA, network of young European cinema.