Location la: Bartos Screening Room
Dir. Philip Scheffner. Germany. 2016. 93 mins. In Arabic French, English, and Russian with English subtitles. Out in the Mediterranean Sea, a few dozen miles off the Spanish coast, a frail little skiff full of men is identified by a cruise liner. A camera zooms in on the refugee boat far in the distance, but the picture remains indistinct. German director Philip Scheffner takes a few minutes of eyewitness video and slows it down to feature length, such that every frame registers as a separate pixelated, and metaphorically pained still. Meanwhile the soundtrack offers an ambitiously textured, multilingual account of the historical and cultural forces that gave rise to this confluence of participants and witnesses, such as terrorism in Algeria in the 1990s, the Irish troubles, and the war in the Ukraine. Scheffner orchestrates a moment suspended in time, in which the viewer is invited to appreciate the full complexity, and tragedy, associated with a brief picture caught at sea. Preceded by It Could Be a Film (Kumjana Novakova, 2016, 8 mins). Subtly ruminating on the definition of film itself, this provocative short explores variances of sound while fixing on a single elusive image.
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