Unconventional storytelling connects international films


This year’s international Oscar race is a competitive race. Among the many strong nominations are films by well-known authors, including the Colombian entry of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, “Memoria” with Tilda Swinton; Chinese Zhang Yimou (“Cliff Walkers”); italy Paul Sorrentino (” God’s hand “); as well as a relatively new generation of directors such as Dane Jonas Poher Rasmussen (“Flee”); the German Maria Schrader (“I am your man”); and the Mexican Tatiana Huezo (“Prayers for the Stolen”). And, as these three additional competitors demonstrate, a wide range of subjects and aesthetics.

‘Titanium’

France

that of Julia Ducournau Winner of the Palme d’Or Cannes 2021 focuses on Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a psychopathic professional stripper on the run who finds herself assuming a male identity to avoid the authorities. And, as she goes into hiding by pretending to be the long-lost son of a veteran firefighter (Vincent Lindon), she also has to deal with an unexpected and unconventional pregnancy. As Rousselle details, “She had this car accident [as a child] and she had this piece of metal screwed inside her head. She is drawn to cars, then she sleeps with a car and soaks up a car. It’s actually science fiction, but if you think about it, it’s kind of normal. It’s kind of in a world where it would be possible.

This may seem like a significant number of disparate elements to tackle for a narrative feature film, but Rousselle thinks it all adds up if you present “Titanium” as a mythological tale. She explains, “It has the power to be a tale, something that talks about the origin of humanity and the emotions, pain and joys that we all experience at any given time.”

And while that doesn’t seem like a conventional Oscar selection, it was shortlisted over other acclaimed French films such as Celine Sciamma’s “Petite Maman” and “Happening”, winner of the Golden Lion at the Festival. of Venice. Putting aside his own involvement, it’s a decision Rousselle can celebrate.

“I’m just happy that a French filmmaker had the courage to do something that was not French,” says Rousselle. “And for me, it’s not a French film. And that’s what I love so much about it.

‘A hero’

Iran

Asghar Farhadi has already won two Oscars in this category for “A Separation” and “The Salesman”. It was also nominated in the original screenplay category for the first. His latest contestant, “A Hero”, centers on a man (Amir Jadidi) in prison because of unpaid debt and whose good deed while on leave begins to backfire. And Farhadi is praised for making an impressive leap in his directorial skills.

“When I make a movie, I like to do it in a way that it feels like we’re watching a documentary,” Farhadi said. “Anything related to cinema, acting or camera placement, they all revolved around this idea of ​​documentary. “

The Iranian filmmaker also says he wanted to create an atmosphere full of incomprehension and doubt. He notes: “For example, in many scenes we see people, but we see them through something like a barrier. I think those two points are more daring in this movie compared to my other movies. The hardest part is that you don’t have to see the director make these kinds of films. Everything must happen as if it existed and you must not see the director, everything must be hidden.

‘Drive my car’

Japan

In many ways, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s red Saab 900 “Drive my car” is the only mechanism available to actor and director YÅ«suke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) at the heart of the story to keep the memory of his wife Otto (Reika Kirishima) alive. But, for such a key element, Hamaguchi made some significant changes to the automobile in Haruki Murakami’s short story.

“In the original, the car is actually a yellow convertible. And I realized quite quickly that it would be very difficult to do in the cinema. There are so many conversations that took place in the car, ”says Hamaguchi. “And so, recording in sync would be really difficult, especially with all the noise of the wind. As for the color yellow, I felt that in Japan, especially with all the greenery, yellow wouldn’t really stand out against the landscape. And that’s when the head of the company that lends cars for film sets one day got into that red car. And to see him get into that red car, it was such a wonderful sight. “

The drama follows Kafuku as he directs a regional production of Bertolt Brecht’s classic play, “Uncle Vanya”. His comfort zone is further and further driven by the company’s insistence that he use a professional driver, the arrival of his late wife’s former lover, and a diverse cast of actors who don’t know his techniques.

What is unique about the staging of Brecht’s play in the film is that each actor speaks one of 10 different languages, including Korean Sign Language. It’s a brilliant choice by Hamaguchi for a film that, at its core, deals with Kafuku’s fear and often his inability to communicate.

“I started to think, ‘OK, if this is the kind of director who is invited to these theater festivals, what kind of directing would he do? And that’s when I remembered this idea of ​​multilingual theater that I actually had in mind for different projects, but I thought that by importing that, I could create a kind of realistic acting – and also very simple. “

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


Darcy J. Skinner