The Four Walls of Kinship
You do not choose your family. That is the one thing you do not have the power to change. And however inhumane they may become, you have no choice but to stand by them.
The fourth session of the Fiction and Documentary programme at the 13th edition of Vienna International Shorts dealt with an exciting but bitter subject matter. Through the eyes of women of all ages, we are invited to witness their daily calamities where in their families and their social statuses have shifted unexpectedly. Within the capsule of the four strong films presented, there is a constant inner struggle to escape from the life embedded into the prison others have inflicted on them.
Name: Susana Bessa
Contact: [email protected]
Fiction and Documentary 4 – In My Room I Play a Dangerous Game
I Still Bleed Inside
Divided into two different groups, with fairly distinct energies and a contrasting understanding of the visual language they choose to employ, the programme travels from the social hierarchy of Portugal – Slope (Margarida Lucas), bumps into the redefinition of family in France – Mother(s) by Maimouna Doucouré, sexual exploitation in Brazil in CarlosSegundo’sI Still Bleed Inside,until it reaches its climax in a relationship from hell between mother and daughter in Croatia – The Beast.
And kudos to the programmers! This was one of the best selections in terms of consistency, quality,sense of continuity and emotional rhythm I had the pleasure to be present for during this 13th edition of Vienna Independent Shorts.
But there was one film that aimed at the sky and triumphed magnificently. The Beast is, in the best of ways, a child of Argento, Buñuel and Bergman painted by women on a canvas drenched in an Autumn paradise. No wonder it was chosen to end the session!
Jumping back and forth over a thin line between reality and fairytale, the story of Vera is notsimply one of love for a tradition of imprisonment on behalf of those whom we share a bloodline with. Vera (Doris Šarić-Kukuljica) is only Vera when she is with her mother, besides being the extension of that house she feels trapped in, but that still breathes for her. Her mother Nana (Marija Kohn) is cruel and has been sucking the life out of her year after year, bedridden and incapable of speech. And when a bat flies into the bedroom and nests under Nana's bed, in the darkness of the sheets that block the daylight, it becomes another kind of extension, as if by metamorphosis, that transforms Nana and pushes Vera to her limit.
Akin to the most scandalous of mother-daughter tales (Mommie
Dearest, Precious, Carrie, Autumn Sonata), Pusić’s tale bares itself to us in its entirety, still remaining open to the many interpretations different audiences might have for it. Maybe the bat is an another representation of Vera. Maybe Nana was never even there.
Every once in a while, there is a programme in a film festival you stumble upon and leave feeling so fulfilled that you’ll do anything to tune yourself out of that haziness of people, sounds and smells storming in when you get out of the theater. This was one of them.