Posts Tagged ‘cinema du reel’

Celle Qui Manque (2020) *** Cinema du Reel 2020

Dir.: Rares Ienasoaie; Documentary with Ioana Ienasoaie; France 2019, 

Romanian born director/DoP/Sound designer Rares Ienasoaie has created a very personal feature documentary: having not met his sister Ioana for twelve years, he tracks her down living   in a camper van, eking out an existence from detritus, a drug addict for most of her life.

 “One day, I felt alone and I thought of my elder sister Ioana”. Ioana has not really disappeared, she travels because she wants to be forgotten. But Rares really misses her and takes his camera along on her nightly odyssey. Twelve years is a long time, even for siblings. It soon emerges her most recent relationship has come to an end – one of many endings. Ioana does read her correspondence but always finds a way to avoid contact. She loves the stories Rares tells – as long as they are kept in a mythical past. The present belongs to drugs and her dog. Ioana’s recalls being jealous at fourteen, and wanting a sporty man like her friend. She is thirty now, and does not even know what sporty means. Something she did not get – like everything else. When Rares asks her about the future the answer comes quickly: “I hope I will be still myself.” Whatever that is, because Ioana has to admit her drug dependency keeps her from having a real identity: they have put her life on hold pause. “I know, drugs are stopping me from being free”. Some of her friends have overcome their dependency on replacing it another drug, that of sexual elation. But love is not for her. “You think you are in love, and the other person is laughing at you. But with drugs, you are always aware of it – you self-destruct, but there is no chance of rejection”. The past always, the past: “The past defines us, if you don’t deal with it. I realise that I have not gotten over it: I still see myself as fat and ugly, even though I am not any more. But I don’t feel good”. 

Most of the shots are taken in the back of the camper, the only light being Ioana’s headlamp. It comes as a shock when we suddenly move to a daytime shot down by the seaside. Another Ioana emerges, and suddenly there is colour. Rares is gradually trying to persuade Ioana to visit her family, their parents in particular. But Ioana is reluctant: “I’ll never feel ready, because I’ll never be able to put things right again. It not neutral territory” When Rares reminds her that Blicourt is not her childhood home, she refuses to accept it. “Only Compiegne, that’s the only place I feel comfortable”. When her brother insists that her parents definitely bought Blicourt for them, Ioana gets angry: “They can’t believe we wanted children. No grandchildren.” Rares plays down a putative meeting: “We won’t say anything, we’ll just say you’ll come and see them. We’ll pretend everything is fine. I can’t pretend I have no sister, I am an only child. I feel like the ungrateful son”.

The Missing One finally comes to a conclusion on the beach with the dog running around, swimming happily. Ioana leans against a rock. Nothing is spared, the darkness of the camper van shrouding everything in a mournful guise, Ioana going more backwards than forwards. Like a Becket play, everything stripped to the essential gloom. AS

42nd CINEMA DU RÉEL 2020 Paris France | 13-22 March 2020

The Two Sights (2020) An Da Shealladh **** Cinema du Reel 2020

Dir: Joshua Bonnetta | Canada, Doc | 90′

Canadian filmmaker Joshua Bonnetta follows his 2017 documentary El Mar la Mar with this equally beguiling film about the phenomenon of clairvoyance, or second sight, in the Western Isles. The film also explores clairaudience, the supposed faculty of perceiving, as if by hearing, what is inaudible.

In the Outer Hebrides locals feel there is little distinction between Heaven and Earth. This untrammelled part of the British Isles is locked away from the buzz of the 21st century, its gentle emptiness, wide open seascapes and luminous cloud formations coalesce to create the ideal setting for all things surreal and inspired by unstructured consciousness, allowing the present to be sustained by the past and offering the locals a portal to their folkloric and linguistic heritage.

The Two Sights opens with the distant figure of Bonnetta silently positioning his microphone on a grassy coastline, subtly introducing the film’s main theme. Bonnetta’s delicately glowing 16mm images then provide the bewitching backcloth to a series of mysterious and ghostly tales voiced by local islanders (in Scottish Gaelic and English) recounting inexplicable sounds and enigmatic sightings that presage the passing away or continuing presence of their friends, animals and loved ones. Some claim the gift of second sight is passed down through families and generations, and now mourn its slow disappearance.

There are stories of dog skeletons, drowned villages, and family members passing away; although songs, silence and the shipping forecast are just as at home here. But like any great collection, the elements are less important than the underlying theme: the closer we are to nature, the closer we are to understanding the universe and how the past and present form a continuous loop uniting our souls forever as we pass visibly, and then invisibly through time.

The Two Sights is both captivating and compelling with its eerie beauty: a lulling ambient soundscape and breathtaking landscapes draw us into a story so ephemeral it could easily drift away in the foggy dusk of these atavistic islands. Bonnetta’s restrained approach avoids sensationalism in conveying the palpable otherworldly plane that exists beyond the six senses transporting us into a dimension that is mysterious and meaningful but not necessarily tragic or malign.

The only diegetic sound is provided by a group of local Scottish gospel singers led by a man with a smooth baritone who later manages to mingle his voice with nearby birdsong, lending a vaguely humorous twist. Wandering round this remote corner, Bonnetta adds further ethnographical texture with random sequences: a lonesome bagpipe player lends a tune and some peat cutters gossip as they unearth the island’s ancient form of fuel. “Sight by eye, sight by ear, two sights that ripple and flow together.”Bonnetta adds another muted but unforgettable film to his repertoire. MT

CINEMA DU REEL | 42nd DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL | 13-22 MARCH 2020

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