A report by Michikazu Matsune
Michikazu Matsune goes to watch two films per day in the first week of the Viennale 07. By watching documentary films, he spends time reflecting his thoughts and every day writes about one of the two films in the corpus web. Viel Spaß!
Chronique d’un été by Jean Rouch and Edger Morin [next]
The film questions the essential question of the documentary – that is, can a documentary film tell the truth? It starts with a scene where a female friend of the directors is asked by the them whether she could behave naturally in front of a camera. She answers that she feels observed, and therefore uncomfortable, and therefore: No. This scene obviously happened in front of a camera. It was shot in 1961 in Paris, and now, forty-six years later, I am watching this film on the screen of the Filmmuseum in Vienna. The film continues with a scene where the female friend together with another female friend goes out on the streets interviewing people whether they are happy. Or unhappy. Some answer yes, some answer no. Some people don’t take the time to answer this question by two unprofessional interviewers and keep on walking. I put this question to myself: Am I happy? Or unhappy? It seemed yes. And no. Then I thought: What a silly question to come out with a clear answer to! The interview scene went on, and I got so sleepy since I had slept too little the night before. I fell asleep. I must have slept for fifteen or twenty minutes. When I woke up, a group of people were sitting around a table with wine and cheese discussing the war in Algeria and the war in the Congo. Two (black) men from the Congo were joining in the discussion. There must have been war all the time in human history. When one war ends, another war starts. A sad fact.
The discussion in the film develops further, and a white woman, the female friend who did the interview, says that she can’t imagine herself being in love with a black man. That she can’t think of making love, meaning having sexual intercourse, with a black man. She is very sure. I asked myself whether I could make love with a black man. It seemed yes. And no. Then I thought: What a silly question to come out with a clear statement to!
The film has a dramatic scene where about ten people who were portrayed in the film until that moment discuss and give comments at a screening of their own images. They are fascinated by or criticising each other. They all remark on the gap between themselves in the film and themselves who are now watching it. Of course, all documentaries show only a part of a huge complex of realities. It is left to oneself (as a viewer or audience) to patchwork together the fragments of realities to be able to see the huge monster called Truth.
Prinzessinnenbad by Bettina Blümner [previous] [next]
What is it like to be a fifteen year old sexy girl?
To be fifteen? To be hopeful? To be strong? To be honest? To be beautiful?
The worlds of Klara, Mina and Tanutscha, the girls (or young ladies) in the film, seem foreign to me. I grew up as a boy and at some point I became a man. I cannot really imagine how it is to be a girl. At least, not deep enough to understand what it really is like to be a girl. And this film shows girls. How it must be to grow up as a girl. How it is to become a woman. The ambiguous shift of a child becoming an adult.
While watching this film I had to think of my daughter who is now eight. She will be fifteen in seven years, and then I will have to confront fifteen-year-old-my-own daughter. How can I manage this? The parents of Klara, Mira and Tanutscha are all divorced from each other. Some have a new partner. They look old. They look like my parents’ age. And it is just wrong. They must be between forty and fifty. My parents are sixty. I am now thirty-four, and I will be forty-one when my daughter becomes fifteen. I will be exactly like the parents of Klara, Mira, or Tanutscha. Oh, my God! There is no time to waste in life. There is no time for hesitation. We have to live our lives now. Live now. Life now.
I was strongly encouraged by this film. I was encouraged by Klara, Mira and Tanutscha who are so strong and powerful. Klara and Tanutscha were there as special guests with the director Bettina Blümner at the Gartenbaukino. They came on stage after the film, and Tanutscha said: “Don’t believe that what’s shown in the film is true.”
Maybe everything’s going to be ok when my daughter becomes fifteen and I forty-one.
At Sea by Peter Hutton [previous] [next]
When you walk, just walk.
When you sit, just sit.
Above all, don’t wobble.
This is a saying from Japan. And this is what the film by Peter Hutton is like.
At Sea gives you time. Time to watch. Time to realise. It simply shows image after image. Without any sound. A silent image and silent speaking.
Giant ships are fascinating. They are like huge creatures with a life of their own. They carry containers from this side of the world to another. They feed the world with all the goods they carry around.
There is a long long scene of containers carried on the deck of a huge ship in the film. I have no idea how many minutes this scene takes. I lost my sense of time some minutes after the film started. There are sunrises and sunsets. There is water after water. There is this slow movement of the ship. We are travelling through the ocean. We are sitting in a big red seat in a cinema. And we are all travelling. We are all containers travelling through the ocean. We all have no idea where we will be brought to. We are travelling because we are travelling.
I watched this film with a friend of mine. After the screening she told me that she was getting sea sick during the film.
And Thereafter II by Hosup Lee [previous] [next]
Love is possible but difficult. The director Hosup Lee questions love and creates a film about the hidden past of a woman. A Korean woman, Ajuma, who was a prostitute for US soldiers during the war in Korea. She married an US soldier and moved to New Jersey. All her life she has been unhappy. She is now an elderly woman and her husband has already died. She slowly starts to talk about her past in front of the camera. Her incredibly difficult life is almost unbearable to me as an audience. Tears. Hosup Lee keeps on filming her. They build up a trust between them but one day Ajuma says that she doesn’t want to be filmed anymore. She cannot confront her own past that comes back so strongly in her thoughts through the process of being filmed. They quit filming.
Some months pass. Hosup Lee visits Ajuma again. And she confesses that she didn’t tell the truth about one part in her life. The part why she came to the states. She didn’t come because she had married her husband happily. She came because she wanted to make more money. She kept on working as a prostitute after she arrived in the states. Her husband knew that, she says. They never spoke about it but in the evenings he always asked her: “Are you ok? Are you not hurt?” He had silently accepted her life. One day she came home from a prostitution job and her husband was so sick that he couldn’t move from his bed. He had not eaten anything. Ajuma felt so sorry for him that she decided to quit her job.
Hosup Lee notes down some of his thoughts throughout the film: “I saw here (in Ajuma’s story) the gap and unbalanced relationship between the two countries.” He tells that he dreamt of a demon asking: “Are you trying to make success with your film by sacrificing this poor woman?” And he answers: “NO! and maybe yes …”
He also notes, ”I want to become as successful as Michael Moore and receive the prize on the red carpet.” But he stays very simple with his film.
“All our life,” says Ajuma, “we have never slept with each other.” Her husband and she had never made love together. He was impotent.
Ajuma lives alone in her middle-class-looking home in New Jersey. She has no friends or relatives. “Now”, she says, “I can afford my life without any worry.” Her husband bought her a life insurance. “After my husband’s death I receive enough money monthly.”
Ajuma cannot even say if they liked each other. She says, “I always knew we were both missing something in our lives …”