Space and Time
I find the title “The Time of the Yakurunas” is actually fitting for a large part of this year’s programme. Along with the landscape, many films also seem to incorporate the sense of time present in the places and their inhabitants ...
Cinema impacts the individual sense of time in highly contrasting ways. A good example of this is the almost five-hour-long Qiu (Inmates) by Ma Li, a documentary about a psychiatric clinic in northern China. Featuring people who will probably never leave this institution again, the film evokes an entire eternity in which the horrendous has become normality. The presence of people has almost no influence on this place. Every room looks the same, everyone wears the same clothes. Nobody is permitted to personalise their surroundings or leave any evidence of their existence at all. The passage of time no longer exists within the clinic’s daily routine.
What significance is borne by daily routine within the fiction films?
Many of the fiction films are very concretely about human existence – the family, the small details with which we are confronted every day. Laura Schroeder’s Barrage depicts three generations of women. The middle generation has cracked up and left her child with its grandmother. When she returns, she must rediscover herself as both a daughter and a mother and recognise how she has got into her current state. The film features Isabelle Huppert as the mother and Lolita Chammah as the daughter. Chammah also plays the leading role in Drôles d'oiseaux (Strange Birds) by Elise Girard who tells a realistic story verging on the surreal. Exactly like in Adiós entusiasmo (So Long Enthusiasm) by Vladimir Durán, where the audience briefly believes we are being presented with a “normal family” before we realise there is something fundamentally awry with this situation.
The mother of the family spends her life cloistered in a small room. Are there reasons for this?
Many films in our programme preclude simple explanations and, in doing so, open up a very different view of reality beyond the Aristotelian theory of drama and relief via catharsis. Art has the freedom to ignore this straitjacket and to explore narrative possibilities beyond simple non-ambiguity. Not every film has to be a psychologically coherent three-act drama.