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10 Years of Discovering the Best Documentaries for You



- 8.8.2011 10:00 -

On the Road

On the road

The films presented this week are original not only for their setting but also for their narrative techniques.
Renowned Swiss filmmaker Peter Liechti has been dealing with the theme of travelling repeatedly. To him, each of his film travels represents a challenge to make a new essayistic experiment. That was also the case with Signers Suitcase, this time setting on an improvized journey with visual artist Roman Signer. The route of the documentary “road movie around Europe” follows the whims, moods and ideas of the film protagonist. Stretching in the vast area between Poland and Island, places selected by Signer become a source of inspiration as well as a huge gallery for his action art. Each of the places functions both as a witness and co-creator of Signer’s activities and ideas, fulfilling the exclamation “Here I am human!” in their simplicity and essential humour.
In his film New Scenes from America, Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth returns to the theme of the American myth as seen through the eyes of a European, which he had already covered in his now classic work of documentary history 66 Scenes from America twenty years earlier. Within a brilliantly direct structure, he lets the visually perfect images of the greatest American clichés speak for themselves. While doing so, he does not fail to provide the viewers with consistent information as to what is to be seen at the presented icons brought to life. With their wide smiles, often dropping towards the expected end of the film shot, Americans and their ketchup, highways, gas stations, banana splits, flags and immigrants transcend their own myth. Though notoriously known, the scenes and symbols gain a new meaning in their diversity and elaborate combination, inspiring questions as to the very essence of the presented “American dream”.
Unlike the colourful flood in New Scenes from America, the Belgian film The Taste of Koumiz has a special, even dreamy poetry. The black-and-white video images from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan set on a mysterious journey, following rules of its own. On the background of slowly flowing images of mountain yurts and city houses, a man’s voice speaks about life that got out of reach of the “voice of their nomadic ancestors”. Without striving to provide a clear ethnographic account, the film by Xavier Christiaens rather recalls an emotional, nostalgic poem about the extinction of a culture. Bon Voyage!

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