A grand total of 45 films were screened at this year’s DocPoint, with “Raving Iran”, “Given”, “The Happy Film”, “Noma: My Perfect Storm”, “Lo and Behold, Reveries of a Connected World”, and “Venus” proving the most popular at the box office. I did not make such popular choices, so I only happened to see one film out of these six – “Venus”. However, here is a review of three films that impressed me the most of the ones that I did see.
Einari Paakkanen tells the story about himself and his father in the film „My Father from Sirius” („Isäni tähtien takaa”). In 1992, when Einari was 12 years old, his father Veikko participated in the workshop „How to Become Englightened?” He emerged truly enlightened and told Einari that they come from Sirius and were brothers in their past life. From then on, Veikko started to receive regular messages from a cosmic being named Adam. The messages and answers to all sorts of questions were delivered in the way of automatic writing. Once in a while, the space residents promised to show themselves and Einari and his father went to random Finnish landscapes to wait for UFOs.
Now, 25 years later, Einari has come to the understanding that he does not really believe in this spiritual magic land created by his father, and the objective of the film is to delicately point that out to his father. Of course, it’s not easy, as Einari does not wish to hurt his father’s feelings, and he also has some little doubts – what if his father is right, after all? The day when Einari finally decides to confess to his father, Veikko announces that UFOs have promised to appear again and move a car parked in a clearing by several metres in order to prove their existence in front of the cameras. Einari and Veikko spend a long day by the car, but it stays where it is. The cosmic beings have also constantly promised Veikko that he would soon win a lottery. This has never materialised either.
Towards the end of the film, Einari pulls himself together and confesses to his father (under pressure from the producer) that his faith in the spiritual world is gone. After that, everything seems to have changed. There is a distance. This is well illustrated by the scene, where Einari sits at the kitchen table with his father and his new disciple. The father and the disciple converse animatedly and Einari is completely shut out of the conversation. Something is lost.
Einari Paakkanen explained during the post-screening discussion why he decided to make the confession to his father and question his other family members on the subject through a documentary film, not privately. Namely, in order to cross the communication barrier, he had to take the role of a by-stander, to distance himself in a way. Without it, he would never have dared to tell his father the truth or ask his mother and sister about his father.
Rahul Jain’s „Machines” depicts routine-imbued work life in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarati. The title „Machines” is very shrewd, as although the film generally focuses on people rather than factory equipment, the people function in this environment in a more machine-like manner than the machines themselves. „Machines” is a great cinema experience – beautiful and disgusting at the same time. It has a lot of rhythm and wonderful aesthetics, but also dirtiness, heat, and physically perceptible sleepiness and heaviness. There is also a sort of slowness, monotony that well conveys the claustrophobia-inducing atmosphere of a closed room and the endless drag of 12-hour shifts.
There is little text in the film, the dull automatism of the machines is only disrupted by odd conversations with the workers, who describe their miserable life and explain why striking would never help to achieve better working conditions. For a bit, they also go to the office, where word is given to the boss of the factory, whom not a single worker has ever seen. He, in turn, explains why employees need to be paid low wages. His explanations do not sound very convincing, but everyday life in the factory continues…
Warning! Perfect soundscapes. Obligatory listening to the fans of industrial noise.
Ulrich Seidl’s „Safari” follows a small group of German and Austrian trophy hunters, who spend their vacation in a Namibian hunting farm. The idea for „Safari” formed in Seidl’s head, when he made his last documentary „In the Basement”, where Austrians demonstrated their basement lives hidden from everyday glances. That is how he met an older couple, whose basement boasted of glorious hunting trophies – this is where the idea came to link the themes of vacation and hunting.
„Safari” is a minimalist film as is characteristic of Ulrich Seidl, conveying with clinical accuracy and strange humour the different stages of the hunting process and the emotions of its participants: accumulating restlessness and thrill during the search and observation of an animal, release and relaxation after killing it, pride, elation, posing with the dead animal. As is usual for a Seidl film, be it documentary or fiction, his characters have something indescribably repulsive, even perverse. In the current film, it manifests itself in a sort of quiet and purposeful selfishness, which seems unpleasant and funny at the same time.
After the festival, the premiere of „Safari” was held in cinema Sõprus, after which Kristo Elias moderated a discussion with Mati Kaal, Peeter Hussar, and Tiit Maran. They mainly talked about the financial side of trophy-hunting. Kristo Elias summed up the topic quite radically saying that soon people will be fenced in and hunted as well. Yes, possible. Several films have been made on the subject already, luckily not yet documentaries, for example, John Woo’s „Hard Target”.