Programme 2012

La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser dir. Davide ManuliLa leggenda di Kaspar Hauser dir. Davide Manuli
The Happy End

"The Third Eye" program accompanying the "Films about Art" section has a new formula. It is now a cinematic part of the festival's art scene - an experimental programme combining films, performance shows and urban space exhibitions.

The symbolic year 2012, the last in the Mayan calendar, is the source of the apocalyptic theme in art, with feelings of tension, exhaustion and melancholy. "The Happy End - Images of the Apocalypse" program includes films about 'ends' that are alternatives to mainstream cinema and, following paradoxical beginnings, establish new rules and aesthetic order. These filmmakers defy but also build a dialogue with canonical examples of b-movies that develop an apocalyptic alphabet.

TheLegend of Kaspar Hauser (2012) - a surreal, black-and-white tech-western, by Italian Davide Manuli, jumps to the section's fore with its ideal cast, starring hermaphroditic Claudia Gerini, Vincent Gallo in dual roles, and the gorgeous Elisa Sednaoui, the actress of Sharūnas Bartas. In the post-futuristic version of the legend, the divinely mad Hauser appears on island "X" on the "Y" sea in year "0" instead of Nuremberg. He is an autistic, white-haired teenager, writhing convulsively to the beat of techno music flowing from his headphones who dreams of becoming a professional DJ. Hauser embodies something different to each eccentric island inhabitant, but all want to possess his secret. The film is accompanied by a thrilling soundtrack by French electro music star, DJ Vitalic.

This year's festival again welcomes last year's guest, "sonic silent film" enthusiast, French writer, musician and filmmaker, F.J. Ossang, director of Dharma Guns screened in the New Horizons International Competition. His The Treasure of the Bitch Island (1990) - a grimly expressive sci-fi thriller, inspired by the post-punk music of the Messageros Killers Boys (a cult music band) fits perfectly in the section's profile. In a world ruled by chaos, carrying the burden of dark romanticism, a group of people set off on a scientific and adventurous expedition. They seek the unique source of two substances essential to create a new energy. The Treasure of the Bitch Island combines motifs surrealistic psychical spaces, ubiquitous conspiracies, but also ponders the essence of cognition, hallucination and narcotics.

A narcotic vision - a frayed and sullen one - can be found in The End (1953), a short-length film by Christopher Maclaine, the author of only four films, all considered masterpieces. Stan Brakhage rates him among one of the most important artists of the American avant-garde. Maclaine, who lived in San Francisco in the 1940s and 1950s, experimented not only with cinema and poetry, but also with amphetamines, driving him to madness and a protracted flophouse death. The End (1953), the first American film with the atomic scare as background, is a cinematic poem about the last day in the lives of six people planning to commit suicide. The Italian film Daimon (2007) by the Zapruder collective (David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi, Monald Moretti, known for their 3D experiments), refers to the works of another artist living at that time, a French writer and scandalist Georges Bataille, the godfather of transgression and obscure eroticism, the patron of postmodernists. Bataille's fictional biography consists of static episodes filled nihilistic with beauty that resemble theatrical adaption. They illustrate themes characteristic for the writer: eroticism, sacrifice, perversion, blasphemy and death, as well as combine extreme torment with never-ending ecstasy.

A completely different, impressionist style is on display in the Japanese-American film Kuichisan (2011), a feature-length debut by Maiko Endo, a Japanese composer, violinist and visual artist living in New York. Here, documentary and improvised 16mm images of Okinawa, near the American military bases, flow with seemingly little logic or control, to highlight an opaque identity of place that allegedly stems from remnants of Japanese spirituality and its clash with transplanted American pop culture. The main character, a boy-prophet wanders the city streets in search of signs of the apocalypse. He observes city life, workers, animals, traditional celebrations, gangs of children performing a kind of pantomime before his eyes.

"The Happy End" also includes 3 Days of Darkness by the Filipino Khavn de la Cruz, ostensibly referring to the religious aspects of the apocalypse, The Great Sadness of Zohara by Nina Menkes, a Koeran study of female madness - Suicidal Variations by Kim Gok and Kim Sun, inspired by memoirs written by Ludwig Wittgenstein, MS 101 by Karol Radziszewski, Finnish Consolation Service by Eija-Liisa Ahtilla, as well as films by the American underground classic director, Kenneth Anger.

Agnieszka Szeffel

"Gazeta Wyborcza Wrocław", 21.06.2012

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