Return to Aeolus Street (2013) will be screened in The female Gaze Program curated by Andrei Tanasescu (Oberhausen Film Festival) at the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF (Romania).
Maria Kourkouta’s lyrical portrait of Greek identity, RETURN TO AEOLUS STREET (ARTE Award – Oberhausen 2014) begins the program’s confessional by navigating through the wandering ghosts of history, longing for life’s vitality. Black and white fragments of popular Greek films are looped, superimposed and slowed down in a balletic chiaroscuro while poetic passages are narrated over melancholy piano pieces. The result is an engrossing audio-visual poem whose hypnotic gaze into a collective consciousness resuscitates its memory and reinvigorates its dormant desires.
An apt companion-piece to KOURKOUTA’s film, Susann Maria Hempel’s singular narrator in her SEVEN TIMES A DAY WE COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR FATE AND AT NIGHT WE GET UP TO AVOID OUR DREAMS (Best Film Award – German Competition Oberhausen 2014) turns to look at the traumatized psyche of a victim of abuse. Fully embracing its subjective form, Hempel narrates the film’s intimate diary-entries and retreats further into the mind of her character by crafting her mise-en-scène with phantasmagorical bric-a-bracs pulled by strings. Hempel’s mesmerizing puppet-show convincingly describes the psychological and physical abuse, drawing the viewer down its downward spiral with childlike fortitude.
Bringing the program’s narrative disclosures to a seemingly more familiar territory, Helena Wittmann’s multiple award-winning film THE WILD introduces us to the ideal, peaceful picture of long-lived domesticity. In a sun-filled home, a husband waters the plants while the wife prepares their meal. Yet behind the veneer of their quiet existence, the camera glides slowly through empty rooms, revealing projections of wildlife taking over their home, their sounds striking off against the solitude of old age. The Wild’s juxtaposition of homely tranquillity with primal savagery invites the viewer to look beyond surface symbolism, coming face-to-face with the primal nature of our domesticized humanity.
Concluding the program’s introspective gaze with a true celebration of femininity, A MILLION MILES AWAY (ZONTA Award – Oberhausen 2014 – special prize celebrating female filmmakers) tackles the subject of repressed anxiety and teenage angst. This emotionally rich portrayal of feminine empowerment sees a substitute music-class teacher incapable of quelling her nervousness in front of the class. That is, until her class’ soothing vocal harmonies grant her a mature sense of self-esteem. Creating an impressive visual universe, flights of magical-realism turn the narrative into a wholly therapeutic experience. A matryoshka doll of layered insecurities and anxieties, Jennifer Reeder’s film reveals and revers the inner child, to the rhythm of heavy metal harmonies.