Apple Cider Vinegar | Sofie Benoot

[…] Starting with the story of a kidney stone, Sofie Benoot brilliantly expresses the porousness of the organic and non-organic, thus making us feel the ideal continuity between the human and the more-than-human.

Filmexplorer met Sofie Benoot at the world premiere of «Apple Cider Vinegar» at Visions du Réel in Nyon and discussed in-depth with her about her visions and the process of filmmaking.

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Apple Cider Vinegar | Sofie Benoot

Interview with Sofie Benoot about her «Apple Cider Vinegar» by Giuseppe Di Salvatore | Visions du Réel Nyon 2024  | Editing: Morgane Frund

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What if David Attenborough had the voice of a woman (Siân Phillips) and started to break his own naturalist approach to documentary, giving up the observer’s neutrality in favour of existential and ethical questions? This is precisely Sofie Benoot’s choice in structuring her Apple Cider Vinegar, through a Britishly humorous voice-over that puts together quite different situations, information and observations concerning the mineral world, and the relationship that human beings have with it. The voice-over overdoes it until dialoguing with the observed beings on the other side of the cameras, but this is a fully assumed character in Benoot’s filmic construction, mimicking, making visible and letting explode the didactic, top-down approach of naturalist documentary.

The recurrent use of webcams – another “character” explicitly thematised by the film – also renders the asymmetric surveillance and control attitude of the classical naturalist documentaries visible. What is watching? Watching further, watching closer, watching better? Benoot explores this question through a self-reflection on the act of shooting, to which science, more precisely geology, contributes with its typical gesture of decentring the gaze. The geologist’s point of view forces us to watch differently, on an unusual temporal scale. We’ll look quite closely at stones, and from the perspectives of millions of years at the same time: this is the decentring gaze that critically interrogates the cinematic eye. Science and cinema find a common ground in being able to give sense – scientifically and aesthetically – to the huge gaps between the details and the cosmos.

Minerals are the most challenging more-than-human interface for human beings, but for this exact reason also the occasion to avoid any anthropomorphic appropriation of the more-than-human. Starting with the story of a kidney stone, Sofie Benoot brilliantly expresses the porousness of the organic and non-organic, thus making us feel the ideal continuity between the human and the more-than-human. To this purpose, the wonderful work on the sound (Kwinten van Leathem and Gert Verboven) helps to put the inside and the outside into communication. The film makes us travel to distant places, from California to Palestine, without drawing any global panorama of places but rather focussing on their intimate interconnection through a multiple perspective on minerals.

Apple Cider Vinegar is a film that breathes, combines humour and science, and calls for a beneficial suspension (epochè) of our anthropocentric habits.

Info

Apple Cider Vinegar | Film | BE-NL 2024 | 80’ | Sofie Benoot | Visions du Réel Nyon 2024

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First published: April 22, 2024