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IFFR Live | Mister Universo

[…] In an age completely dominated by the rallying cry for “participation”, being present makes sense only if something happens or if we at least have the impression that an “event” takes place. Bero Beyer’s genial idea is to make the event independent of any spatial boundaries.

[…] The new generations didn’t lose contact with live events. It is just a question of interpretation of what is live. To this respect, Bero Beyer has given to us the best tool to understand one of the main points «Mister Universo» puts forward.

Bero Beyer, director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), had a smart idea: to stream, around the world, some of the films programmed in his festival. The geographical boundaries of the festival format are broken. We watch Mister Universo at another festival, the Black Movie in Geneva, but at the same time we “are” in Rotterdam, and in Basel, at the Stadtkino, as well as in 43 other locations, VOD platforms included.

What does it mean, “being there”? The contemporary answer: participating in an event, a “live” event. In this way, the concept of “live” is reduced to time only. Or should we imagine that a streamed space is also “live”? Are we alive in a streamed space? Is there life in a streamed space? In an age completely dominated by the rallying cry for “participation”, being present makes sense only if something happens or if we at least have the impression that an “event” takes place. Bero Beyer’s genial idea is to make the event independent of any spatial boundaries.

Admittedly, we were sitting to watch Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel’s Mister Universo, but our impression is that the fact that this movie was streaming “live from Rotterdam” prevailed. Probably, this is simply dependent on the little bit of adrenalin we had in imagining this as the “new” experience of a “live event”. But then, what actually happened? How was our experience? Well, the movie was just a movie, of course. The difference was all in the introduction to the movie, which was made in Rotterdam and streamed everywhere else. After some seconds, we recognize it: our experience is so close to a normal TV experience! That largely depends on the Dutch anchorman on the screen: a Dutch guy, who has nothing of the subtlety of the film critic and, rather, the energy of a salesman. He is so enthusiastic about making his planetary show, selling the amazing idea of a planetary event, that we remained a bit cold when confronted with him…

Now, after having seen the movie, and while watching the discussion with filmmakers in a situation that looks exactly like a TV studio, we find an interesting connection between the IFFR event and the story of Mister Universo. The latter is a documentary fiction about the world of little circuses in Italy. The main character is a young tamer of lions and tigers who is searching for his lost lucky charm. It gives the occasion to show how circus artists struggle to survive today and how, despite their positivity and nomadism, they have to cope with depression and the need for spiritual motivation. Actually, Covi & Frimmel’s work is the empathic and humanist portrait of an extinguishing world and it insists on a nostalgic note that appears more decadent than melancholic.

Why is the world of little circus being extinguished? It is mainly due to a lack of renewal and innovation. But a more specific reason is mentioned during the film: the children are no longer fascinated by live experiences and prefer to look at their smartphones, rather than at live animals. And it is precisely this IFFR “live” event that helps us to better understand this point. The new generations didn’t lose contact with live events. It is just a question of interpretation of what is live. To this respect, Bero Beyer has given to us the best tool to understand one of the main points Mister Universo puts forward. The live situation that is disappearing in the story told through the film, that of circus performances, finds a new life in the event-form in which the film is being sold: the live streaming of Mister Universo around the world. Mister Universo, insofar as it is a live IFFR event, is a story of globalization or, more banally, a story of digitalization.

Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore

First published: January 31, 2017

Mister Universo | Film | Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel | IT-AT 2016 | 90’ | Black Movie 2017 Genève | IFFR Live

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