ramblings and ruminations
a festival diary by olaf m??ller
So, that’s Izola - you can fit it in a borough of my hometown and nobody would notice the change; and yet, I’m utterly incapable to get the hang of it, the lay of the land (probably to small for me…). But nice, very nice, pretty relaxed, just the kind of place to watch great films and feel fucking guilty about it: the call of the beach… but we’re good little cinephiles, so we’ll have joy, we’ll have fun, we’ll have seasons in the dark …
The really cool thing about Kino Otok is the fact that it’s mainly made by (in every sense) pretty young people trying to make a difference - it lacks the kind of cynicism you usually find at (ad)ventures like this. Put simple: It’s about the films and their makers, and not about the dude - well, often more like duds - who make the event, like, happen. The perfect symbol for the festival: The table-football right in front of the HQ -where there’s a table-football, there’s communication.
The directors already present - Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Muzzafar Ali, Ali-Reza Amini, and Moussa Sene Absa - also seem mighty happy about the set-up. Let’ s just consider this list: A fresh-from-Cannes-champ, a superstar of Indian design, Iran’s up-and-coming poet maudit, plus a major force of Senegalese art: That’s a line-up most bigger and more established festivals would be happy about. Especially the presence of Apichatpong feels like a miracle - let’s be honest: Everybody thought he would cancel, especially after his Cannes-triumph, but here he is together with the star of his latest work, Tropical Malady, both looking mighty content. Let’s hope that people’ll appreciate his presence as well as that of the others: It’s such a rare chance to just spend some time with, talk to people you’d usually have trouble getting even close to - even if you’re a personal friend! - at some big-ass eeeeevEEEEnt or those eeeeevEEEEnts acting up big, and, yes, fuck them all. It’ ll also be interesting to see whether Apichatpong will bring the bigshots of the big media down to the coast - normally those biiiiiiggggggggg national dailies and those even bigger TV-mothers have a certain tendency to not take small, intelligently programmed festivals too seriously - they like’m big and vulgar and stuffed with films every asshole and his mother can understand, as they like to feel in swing with the audience (and then you end up at festivals that proudly present the latest works by the likes of Zefirelli or Altman or some such). Well, the local media, it seems, won’t be a problem, they seem to be rising up to the moment - and, hey, Primorske Novice actually fields a real master of Slovenian avant-garde filmmaking, Slobodan ValentinÄiÄ, although not that many people seem to remember the great films/performances of OM productions whose museum is curated by Slobodan.
First film, well, program: ROK animation, put together by Igor Prassel of Stripburger-fame - serious filmmaking till the end, a rare example of a short film programme without a dog (personal favorites: The Letter by Chang Hyungyun featuring cute letter-munching dinosaur, and One Fine Day by Yoo Jinhee featuring a really nasty girl who’s actually the director…). On to: Luis Ortega’s Caja Negra - well, it’s certainly a ? kafar’ian work… not bad, not at all, just not my kind of cinema: too self consciously small albeit not the kind of small-scale filmmaking that’s begging to be loved by everybody and which is therefore the enemy.
In the evening: (After the opening - well, you know how those go… but the mayor made an ok decent impression… and there’s also Olga Oni??enko: hmmmm, charming) Muzaffar Ali’s mighty Umrao Jaan, a 2 1/2h-prose poem on the greatness of Lucknow culture, and one of the last Muslim sociales/spectacles that were made for the cinema nowadays you only find them on TV). But: It was somewhat… cold in the open air cinema - thank God they didn’t open with, say, Raj Kapoor’s Sangam which is something like an hour and a half longer…