This rich and idiosyncratic avant-garde short is one of the finest films of this year's Raindance.
It’s become a cliché to say that with festivals of this type, the high profile movies often turn out to be disappointments, while the obscurities pushed to the side-lines are often unjustly overlooked gems, but here’s a perfect case in point: my favourite movie of Raindance so far is an 8 minute avant-garde whatsit by Canadian filmmaker Federica Foglia.
Equally poetic and essayistic, Exit/Entrance is largely plotless, using its images and sounds to instead riff on a particular sensation – the personal dislocation of being both within and outside an alien culture, wanting to adapt to its established codes and rhythms while still not betraying your personal history and values. From this, a number of small truths emerge: the way that the displaced individual will search for the familiar within these surroundings, while those around them try to project familiarity onto them; the gulf between individual experience of immigration and its turning into objective, abstract information; the de-humanizing aspect of well-meaning integration programs, which scrub individuals clean of cultural background and associations; the subtle feelings of exclusion created by language barriers.
Shot on what appears to be a consumer-grade DSLR, this intensely interiorized feature follows a young, recently immigrated painter as he goes about his everyday life, struggling to come to terms with his new situation. The compositions themselves are mostly quite plain in their set-up: static, planimetric, etched in simple two-point primary colour schemes, surrounding the subject with a great deal of negative space. They gain power through the editing, which is entirely associative rather than being geographically or temporally motivated. Focal shifts, disorientating cuts and complex super-impositions create complex networks of meanings. These make richly textured visual collages out of the minimalist designs.
Even when the idea behind a shot skirts heavy-handedness, the formal authority with which it’s expressed is impressive in itself. Every image is alive with the sensation of a director trying to find a unique visual language to formally express a feeling they can’t quite find the words to describe. Every shot has its own logic, its own tone, its own tenor, yet they all manage to cohere into a unified whole. What’s demonstrated is a kind of thinking-through-the-image that’s rarely found in the contemporary cinematic landscape, even within the avant-garde scene.
Exit/Entrance (2015), directed by Frederica Foglia, is being shown as part of the 2015 Raindance Film Festival. Further information about the film and screening times can be found here.