SXSWorld March 2016 – Film & Interactive


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4 8 S X S W o r l d | F I L M / I A M A R C H 2 0 1 6 | S X S W. C O M Long live diversity," declares Icelandic yarn grafitti artist Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldar toward the beginning of the documentary YARN. While Thorvaldar is referring to her opposition to the local practice of rearing only white sheep, her statement could easily apply to the selection of films in the SXGlobal strand of the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. Several of these films represent fresh new talent from first-time feature directors, who explore how outsiders, or those in the mar- gins of society, respond to spaces. Emma Rozanski's Papagajka is born out of her preoccupation with the glass security boxes that can be found across Sarajevo and also in the Papagajka (The Parrot) building that many locals do not favor and in which the film is almost entirely set. The film opens with the drab diurnal rhythms of Damir, an apa- thetic security guard in the building who whiles away the time marking days of the week on his booth's glass. Upheaval arrives in the shape of Tasia, a mysterious woman with a large suitcase who is seemingly lost and has selective amnesia. The project was mentored by Hungarian auteur Béla Tarr (Rozanski studied at Tarr's film.factory), and his influence is evident in the film's austerity. The four bubbly teenage girls at the center of Anita Rocha da Silveira's Kill Me Please are not outsiders in the obvious sense — being from privileged backgrounds and attending an exclusive Rio de Janeiro private school — but they are a close-knit bunch who are slightly off-kilter. When a series of murders of young women take place in the Barra da Tijuca suburb of the city, an area of frantic urban development as one of the main sites of the 2016 Summer Olympics, the protagonist develops a morbid fascination with these events and finds herself inexorably drawn to the murder site. As Rocha da Silveira told Variety in September 2015, "I wanted to highlight how developing countries, and their new middle classes, deal with these new spaces." Micaela Rueda's UIO: Take me for a Ride also deals with schoolgirls in an exclusive institution. The protagonist, Sara, is a loner, and new arrival Andrea is drawn to her. Conservatism signposts are laid out in the shape of the girls' school uniforms enforced to being of a deco- rous length, but "The love that dare not speak its name," a phrase from the poem "Two Loves" by Lord Alfred Douglas, is quoted in class. Returning to YARN (directed by Thordur Jónsson, Una Lorenzen and Heather Millard), Thorvaldsdóttir is dissatisfied with the political system in her native Iceland and takes her art to Barcelona and Havana, but not before using her yarn graffiti to soften and femi- nize what she describes as the sharp, masculine energy of Reykjavik. Polish crochet artist Olek is disturbed that her own art is not considered cool enough in her country yet blossoms in the U.S., while Japan's Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam finds her groove with gigantic webbed installa- tions popular with children in Rome. The tranquil setting of a Mexican beach resort seems like the perfect space for Dali, her boyfriend and eight-year- old son, in Alejandra Márquez Abella's Semana Santa. However, the cramped confines of their quarters and inability to move beyond the concerns occupying their respective minds create an oppres- sive atmosphere on what was to be their ideal vacation. Dealing with a new space takes on a whole new meaning in Bodkin Ras, directed by Kaweh Modiri, a Dutch artist and filmmaker of Iranian descent. The titular Bodkin is of Middle Eastern origin and on the run from a violent past. He seeks solace in a small town in Scotland, where he is summarily ejected from some establishments and accepted warmly in others. Obviously an outsider, he finds employment in that great outsider staple of the U.K., the Indian restaurant. He also hooks up with the town's other outsider, Lily, an exile from London. Bodkin soon realises that his conflict is not with the space he is in, but within. In Simon Stadler's Ghostland, the leap is even greater for the Ju/'Hoansi bush people of Namibia, who after a state edict of 1989 banning them from their natural practice of hunting are now reduced to being a side-show for tourists. Their first culture shock arrives when they are bussed to the nearest town, where they gape in awe at products in a supermarket, but a far greater test is in store when an NGO flies them to Frankfurt. Lastly, in Mauro Herce's Dead Slow Ahead (Spain), it is the audi- ence who are asked to respond to a space – in this case, the freighter Fair Wind, manned by a Filipino crew, set to the hypnotic clanking of gears. Once the audience surrenders to the stately pace of the ship, Herce gradually humanises the crew while the all-powerful turbines spin, relentless. Is it an allegory – the classic ship of fools? The answer, like in most of the films in this most eclectic SXGlobal selection, is left open to interpretation. T For information on SXGlobal screenings, search the SXGlobal tag on Diverse International Films Explore Common Themes by NamaN RamachaNdRaN " Pa pa ga jka Kill Me Please U I O: Ta ke Me for a Ri de

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