Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

Here Filmexplorer's selection of short and medium-length films discovered at the hybrid edition of the festival Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

HIGHLIGHTS - and podcast discussions

[…] J’aimerais souligner la profonde beauté de ce geste : invitation ouverte à habiter le film, à l’investir de nos propres histoires d’enfance, perdues elles aussi, dispersées aux quatre coins de la mémoire, comme celles du narrateur.

[…] Comme la mémoire, la ville déserte est un terrain de jeu. Libérée de ses fonctions, elle permet tous les parcours : aucune loi, aucune règle n’arrêtera le pas léger du promeneur, pour qui l’univers coercitif du parc à thèmes n’est plus qu’un lointain souvenir.

Read the entire article by Emilien Gür HERE

Hee Young Pyun & Jiajun (Oscar) Zhang | CHN 2021 | 18’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021, Prix Mémoire Vive for Best Short at Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

[…] La narration ne détient pas le monopole du pouvoir de fascination. Les images, pour la plupart issues des archives du CNES (Centre national d’études spatiales), de par leurs pures qualités visuelles, sont au cœur de l’émerveillement que le film procure.

[…] Le film, en effet, fait fi de tous les impossibles. Rien ne retient son envol, pas même la gravité.

Read the entire article by Emilien Gür and hear the discussion with Isabelle Prim HERE

Isabelle Prim | FR 2021 | 20’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

[…] Le choix de Pierre Schlesser est radical, « L’huile et le fer » est un film sonore, mais sans voix. Sinon à considérer sa voix intérieure, autobiographique, qui trace un fils rouge tout au long du film.

[…] Avec un soin infini, il a taillé ses cadres, pensé la rencontre heureuse entre les images et les phrases et monté le récit avec une exemplaire économie, faite d’ellipses, de métaphores, de silences au sens toujours esquissé.

Read the entire article by Jean Perret and hear the discussion with Pierre Schlesser HERE

Pierre Schlesser | CH 2021 | 33’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

Toby Bull directs his camera toward the sheep, he speaks on the phone with his brother, while he insists on shooting, almost searching for (something in) the sheep. For five minutes, no more than that, and yet, this minimalist film is huge, for it seizes a just intuition, a sort of vision: the brothers’ parents are buried there, where the sheep graze, as if they knew… The camera searching becomes so a clumsy then right way to grieve. With different approaches, the brothers’ longing for the parents seems to find an answer, possibly a presence. Besides the medium of the phone and through the medium of the camera, Bull makes of the animals a visible medium. In this way the animal’s lively silence becomes an unexpected bridge to the beloved that have departed, and we seem to rediscover an ancient truth, in the flesh of the real.

HERE is the live podcast discussion with Toby Bull on Clubhouse during the festival Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

Toby Bull | UK 2021 | 5’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

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Factual texts are accompanied by silence, and when we hear the rustle of trees in summer, the voice over is whispering some fragments of the past. Through this alternance, Suyu Lee’s past becomes more intimate than the facts of illness in her daily life. Her diary is a springboard to resume her life, and the threat of death makes any minor element vibrate. Her mother’s remembering creates a gentle switch of perspective, which makes Suyu’s suffering lighter. If the disease obliges her to focus on herself, the filmmaking allows her to displace the focus on several centres outside of herself, which one could call a filmic healing process.

Suyu Lee | KOR 2021 | 39’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021, Prix du Jury des jeunes at Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

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[…] The hypnotic quality of the film, its whisper-more-than-a-cry substance, wave an unusual science fiction story where Andrei Tarkovski and Werner Herzog shake hands.

[…] Every image, every sound, is conquered with wisdom and respect towards this group of dreamed dreamers living in the waste. He is probably the Cuban filmmaker that has found the most original metaphors to reveal aspects of daily life in his country.

Read the entire article by Jorge Yglesias HERE

Alejandro Alonso | CUB-FR 2021 | 30’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

It’s a group of five people, sharing their confinement, together in an apparently occupied house (somewhere in the French province), each of them lonely in their separate rooms. Anton Bialas use a Caravaggio-like aesthetic of the images in order to make us experience their reduction to the minimal elements of daily life: eating, sleeping, washing, yet also creating, expressing. Despite some hints of desire, and the pleasure we could find in coming back to essentials, their main expressions reveal despair. The possible task of documenting social marginality or anarchy transforms itself into the endeavour to put in question the meaning of life as survival, and then in to the impossible task of documenting sheer existence.

Anton Bialas | FR 2021 | 43’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

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Daily life in Belarus, when observed with Western eyes, could sound crazy, but Krystsina Savutsina is not seeking for exoticism in her coming back to her roots. Skilled editing enhances the cutting gesture and often de-contextualised scenes of work, of leisure, of celebration. The sometime humorous, sometime puzzling result is a kaleidoscope of sketches describing a multiple stories structure. However, Khan’s Flesh is something more than a diversion, for at the end of the almost hour of film, and thanks to its peculiar structure, the integration of people in the gears of procedural life emerges as the main theme: a meaningful and critical theme for Belarus.

HERE is the live podcast discussion with Krystsina Savutsina and Georg Kussmann on Clubhouse during the festival Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

Krystsina Savutsina | BLR-DE 2021 | 57’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

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[…] There is a meditative quality to the mundanity. Little to no dialogue represents communication without conversation.

[…] Dry Winter is the creation of a small team of emerging filmmakers who, with ethnographic sincerity, developed trusting relationships with locals and avoided the rookie mistake of romanticising and exaggerating place and landscape beyond inhabitation.

Read the entire article by Jodie McNeilly-Renaudie HERE

Kyle Davis | AUS 2021 | 62’ | Visions du Réel Nyon 2021

Other films discussed on Clubhouse (podcast)

During the hybrid edition of Visions du Réel we discussed other interesting films in the daily live appointment of Filmexplorer on Clubhouse. We mention here the exchange with Allison Chhorn on her Blind Body, a film that thematises memory through an empathetic camera that tries to share her grandmother’s almost blind perspective on the past; the discussion with Amélie Bargetzi on her Là où nous sommes, a film that shows how complex a long existence in a nice but polluted environment can be, between appropriation and refusal; and the meeting with Moona Pennanen on her Land That Rises and Descends, a film that is able to vividly express the intimate connection between traditional rituals and the geography of a special territory. Respectively, Australia/Cambodia, France and Finland reveal their stories through a cinematic gaze both empathetic and complex.

More suggestions: Concept films

Some films are mainly the coherent result of an initial concept, be it formal or relating to a particular situation to be documented. Here, more than the way the film is executed, it is the initial brilliant idea that sustains the entire film. This is why we want to mention the following five works:

Nikita Yefimov’s Strict Regime (Best medium-length film at Visions du Réel 2021), for its ability to unmask censorship through the explicit fictionalisation lead by its own character, a director of prison, and in doing so indirectly document the reality that we don’t (can’t) see;

Jessie Zin’s Wavelengths, for its choice to approach the theme of abortion from the perspective of the helping call workers, whose concrete work of hearing takes place in their private space, at night, somehow in continuity with our hearing of the film in the cinematic darkness;

Adrian Paci’s Vedo rosso, for its striking casting and editing of a woman that witnesses domestic violence, and moreover for its radical choice of an almost monochrome persistent image of red which, in contrast with Derek Jarman’s infamous Blue, is not abstract but represents the bloody image of the internal eyelid exposed to sun;

Teboho EdkinsThe Orphanage, for its keen selection of a China-supported Buddhist orphanage in Lesotho, that witnesses how pervasive Chinese neo-colonialism is in Africa, paradoxically using religion as leverage to brainwash new generations – or, at least, this seems to be the suggestion of this very simple film;

Andrea Schramm’s 27 Steps, for its accurate formal divide between voice over (for the storytelling of recent events) and images of a house (for telling the story of a life) in order to express with dignity and intelligence the immediate mourning process at the time of coronavirus.