There is a saying people live in a circle, a kind of a looping disc. For every death there is a birth, for every sorrow there is happiness, just as the earth is round and the seasons repeating, for every beginning there is an end, for every lost there is a find.
Loosing and finding are reality that humans condition themselves to live with. You lose a little bit of something every now and then, it might be something small and seemingly unimportant that your mind just occasionally remembers, maybe in passing, always with chuckles; or it might be something so close and so dear that your life shifts to revolve around that one moment of loss. It might be even you, and each loss is no less important than the other, each affects every finding in its magnitude.
This little compilation presents these two realities through very diverse of topics: from the irony of the impossibility of childhood dreams in Mojtama-e Laleh (Komeil Soheili, 2017); to a literal loss of a man in an event no one has control over to in I Want to Go Home (Wesley Leon Aroozoo, 2017); from an unexpected finding of a passion in a dying cinema in Phantom of Illumination (Wattanapume Laisuwanchai, 2017); to a seemingly nonsensical urgency of a man in pursuing his very specific hobby in Tetsu Kono’s Crazy Routine (Sébastien Simon & Forest Ian Etsler, 2016).
There is a sense of disquiet in each of the film, from the loses that are unexpected, dismissed, unspoken, amidst the dynamic of everyday life that hardens people. Often the findings feel like an irony, so that being lost becomes an option taken willingly. The complexity of the cycle continues, and through the films we are brought in a journey that catches glimpses of it.
Just like one of the film says, “You’ve been reincarnated endlessly.”
Curated by Ukky Satya Nugrahani
Narrating in the Way Water Flows
Films are always sorted into categories: fiction, documentary, animation, etc. As time goes by, these categories coalesce. Approaches in filmmaking make more varieties of form, with more diverse perspectives and ways of narrating, thus the limits between ‘categories’ are transgressed. Here is the very point at which I think filmmakers start to narrate and record just like water does.
Talking about documentary will always include the subjects and how they speak. However, coalescence makes a wider and more diverse space for documentaries. Fictions taste like documentaries; documentaries taste like fictions, animated documentaries, teenage documentaries, adventurous documentaries, and so forth. The coalescence and diversity of films are presented through the 19 documentaries selected in this year’s Festival. Six of them will also compete in the main competitive section with (and not excluded from) other fictions. It suggests that this year is the right moment for JAFF to initiate a program specialized in documentaries and to comprehend the coalescence occurred therein.
Similar to water, the way filmmakers narrate becomes more flowing; they search for and later present something more specific in regard to what they desire to speak about. It is obvious through Tarling is Darling and Negeri Dongeng which take us streaming down the flow of their worlds. Film have also created new identities for the subjects repeatedly taped in other films; we can see the depiction of this kind in Bulu Mata, Abdul & Jose, and The Unseen World. This is where we find the sensibility in viewing the matters of gender, disability, cinema, identity, and even the life itself—both its fortunes and misfortunes.
Comparable to water, filmmakers also flow deeper, entering the narrow clefts hardly reached in storytelling. Take for example, Phantom of Illumination which takes us going through the ‘sense and memory’ of a movie theatre building. Or Oh Brother Octopus and Manila Scream that recounts the story of the sea and expression respectively, inviting the audience to go inside the subjects of the film and generate a new perspective on them.
However, still, analogous to water that is never disconnected from the spring, filmmakers also flow inside themelves, finding the core essence into the smallest unit of collective: family. One of those films, Mrs. Fang directed by Wang Bing, searches for the essence of a family relationship. My Father, The Last Communist sees such relationship within the context of today’s situation and self. Thereafter, the relationship poses some questions regarding the life itself, as we can see in either Musume (Daughters) or Semua Sudah Dimaafkan sebab Kita Pernah Bahagia.
As water does, films undergo a process and evolve. As water does, they always form a new identity whose diversity in narrating we keep reading up on. But anytime the stream has been flowing safely and steadily, here is where a new, different stream is required. To rise new ripples, to go against its own current. Hence this program is none but the celebration of the cinema itself.
Written by Kamila Andini
*The program Asian Doc was initiated together by Festival Film Dokumenter and Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival (JAFF).