Shorts: Intangible Nature
IDFA 2022: Shorts: Intangible Nature
Insecurities that the global climate crisis brings to communities around the world are creatively captured and expressed through different cinematic approaches. This compilation program includes Mountain Flesh, Mother Earth’s Inner Organs and Mountain Man.
Mountain Flesh (Valentina Shasivari, CH 2022, 18')
In a Swiss mountain village, hikers head out, a fountain splashes reassuringly and a churchwarden prepares a mass. Debut director Valentina Shasivari evokes the calm of this serene landscape with tightly framed shots in contrast-rich black-and-white.
But the soundtrack, with its creaks and crackles emanating from underground, beneath the mountains, raises questions and a creeping, ominous feeling. There’s something going on here, but what is it? Men with high-tech measuring instruments pepper the landscape, and local people study their surroundings intensely.
A meditation on people versus nature, and religion versus science creates a portrait of a community living under constant threat.
Mother Earth’s Inner Organs (Ana Bravo Pérez, CO/NL 2022, 22')
The first mountains that the Amsterdam-based Colombian artist and filmmaker Ana Bravo Pérez saw in the Netherlands were black. In this experimental work, she follows the stench of the coal in the port of Amsterdam back to its origin: an open wound in northern Colombia. The mine is located in the territory of the Wayuu and has a huge impact on the indigenous people.
Bravo Pérez combines various styles and mixes Dutch, English and Spanish in the narration. Most documentary are the scenes where two Wayuu women talk about the impact of mining and about their spiritual bond with Mma—“Mother Earth”—although the film also shows that this translation doesn’t express the full meaning. The Wayuu treat Mma with respect and care, unlike the foreigners who extract coal to generate electricity. The scale of that extraction becomes apparent in a minutes-long shot of a seemingly never-ending freight train carrying coal.
Mountain Man (Arun Bhattarai, BT 2022, 22')
In Bhutan, 11-year-old Yangchen’s father is the country’s glacier specialist, and thus the only person authorized to climb the mountains, which are considered to be sacred. He spends months away from home measuring the rapidly melting glaciers. While hiking through the snow to the farthest reaches of the Bhutanese Himalayas, he faithfully shoots videos for his daughter with his phone. These videos take the viewer into breathtaking landscapes, but it also becomes increasingly apparent that something irreversible is happening.
We follow Yangchen’s daily life at school and at home, where she prays at an altar that her father won’t disturb the snow lion, the mythical embodiment of the glacier—the Bhutanese believe that this could provoke disaster. But in reality, the biggest threat to the snow lion’s survival is not Yangchen’s father, but climate change.
Documentary lovers, keep 9 through 20 November free in your calendar. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam presents its 35th edition in cinemas throughout Amsterdam, including several special programmes in Eye.
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