Notes on TIFF
Tromsø International Film Festival 2015
By Nina Toft
Silvered Water – Syria Self-portrait
France, Syria, 2014, Directors: Ossama Mohammed, Wiam Bedirxan
When we see violent images of war and conflict in the context of the news, we’re bombarded with information. Every story is so dense with content: image, sound, text and dialogue. We jump from a collection of impactful images to an interview, while a reporter commentates. Then we see more images – of dead children, wounded civilians – and then we move abruptly on to the next issue. This impacting film instead creates the space for reflection that allows us, and at the same time forces us, to take these images in. They force themselves on us and we have to swallow them and digest them, instead of just spitting them right out.
The Look of Silence
Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Norway, UK, 2014
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
This is the sequel to The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer about the genocide and national trauma in Indonesia in 1965–66. These are the two films that have impacted on me the most in the last two years. The Act of Killing – The Look of Silence: very concise and descriptive titles. This second film is about ‘the look of silence’ experienced by a man named Adi when he confronts his brother’s murderers with the past. He isn’t really asking for their remorse, but for them to confront and acknowledge the consequences of their actions. Ironically, Adi, an optician, is performing an eye test in order to prescribe them the right lenses to see well, while they continue to refuse to see his point of view. Oppenheimer has been working with the people in these films over a period of 12 years. This film gets closer to its subjects than the previous one, with the camera describing nature and the body with empathy and love. Watching these films I ask myself the really big questions: where does evil come from? Who can ultimately be held accountable for the sadism of war? It also pushes the borders in a number of ways about how to be a filmmaker in the documentary genre. Only by carefully constructing the scenes in the film can Oppenheimer move closer to the real.
Kurant Bed and Video
Kurant Project room
Wonderful Kurant! For the film festival they got the artist Geir Backe Altern to build a Japanese-style capsule hotel, where you can crawl into a box bed and watch video art on your own private screen all night long and wake up to breakfast in bed. All for 150 NOK. The video program was curated by the artist duo Kuk&Parfyme (Cock and Perfume).
Eivind H. Natvig
Come, for all is now ready
Perspektivet Museum, a museum that actually deals with the currency of today, housed the official TIFF café. I dropped by to see photographer Eivind H. Natvig’s exhibition Come, for now all is ready, where he followed a Parish priest in his daily work on the 2400 island of Træna and Lurøy municipalities in Nordland County, Northern Norway. These images have a rawness about them and an absence of photographic clichés that somehow removes them from the representational features of photography – they convey presence.
Beyond Horizons – Governance of natural resources and the rights to the land and the sea
Curator Hanne Hammer Stien
video program produced by Atelier Nord (Nina Toft and Ivar Smedstad)
Atelier Nord has been curating video art programmes for the Short Film Festival in Grimstad for five years. This is the first time they have presented a programme at TIFF. The programme’s curator Hanne Hammer Stien writes: ‘To look beyond horizons can be understood to search for what we do not already know or what we don‘t see, what is hidden from us. The film program Beyond Horizons focuses on works by artists who question the governance of natural resources in Northern Norway and The High North. An important issue concerning the governance of natural resources is the rights to the land and the sea. Another issue is climate change, and the impact local interventions can have on a global scale.’
The program is showing at Atelier Nord ANX in Oslo in February and will tour to a number of venues in Northern Norway in 2015. Following the screening was the panel debate ‘Agenda – High North’, which brought together one of the artists in the program, Geir Tore Holm, with art historian and curator Stein Pedersen and researcher Bright Dale from Nordlandsforskning.
Director: Tonje Hessen Schei
A brave young man, a former drone pilot, seems to be the only one to speak openly of his experiences and regrets about being drafted as a drone solider, while a Pakistani lawyer tries to sue the US Army for war crimes on behalf of drone victims in Waziristan.
The Salt of the Earth
France, Italy, Brazil 2014
Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribero Salgado
This was the film I came to TIFF really wanting to see, but somehow other commitments always got in the way, so it’s still on my list of films to see. Seeing the life and photography of the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado through the camera lens of Wim Wenders is bound to be a visually impressive experience. It’s now won an Oscar for best Documentary Feature and I look forward to seeing it on general cinema release.