Saturday, November 04, 2006

London Film Festival: "Our Daily Bread"




I've been to the London Film Festival. Well, the very last day of it, and because it was the last day i had no big hesitation to see two films in a row. I always seem to catch up with these film festivals at the very end and then get really into it, when it's almost too late, it was the same with the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival a little while ago. I guess it's better than nothing. When it comes to film in London i seriously seem to miss so much but it's near impossible to keep up. I always forget how much i like the NFT as well, once i'm there, especially during one of their many festivals, I want to see almost everything they show, as it's almost always worth seeing. It's a great place to see films and hang out, and it's completely smokefree now as well.

Anyway, on Thursday I finally got to see a film by my cousin, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, who has made several feature length documentaries and is quite well known these days. I've been meaning to see one of his films for ages, but they don't get shown here on TV or in the cinemas and I never got around to find out how to order them. I don't think amazon does them but i now saw that there is an Austrian website where you can order them. I definitely want to see more and will check it out.

"Our Daily Bread" is a series of scenes filmed in food production factories, slaughter houses, plantations, huge industrial complexes where animals are reared, etc, with no further narration, all you hear is industrial noises, animals, and occasionally factory workers chatting casaually. A lot of is very shocking and disturbing, especially the slaughterhouse scenes, and especially if you're a vegetarian (i'm not anymore though seeing stuff like that is making me think about it again, for some reason the way animals are kept and treated and killed is a big touch more shocking und upsetting than the way vegetables are). it doesn't show any, um, alternative ways of food production, smaller scale / organic / freerange / ethical, whatever, and it doesn't have a clear message, and i guess, that is part of its strength too, it's very disorientating and doesn't let you off the hook, so to speak. All you see is huge industrial complexes with some isolated workers who largely seem really detached from what they're doing, well, it is their job, trippy corridors, giant spaces, and occasionally you see these workers having a break, eating, um, in some ways the fruit of their labour... there's a hypnotic quality to some of it, and a morbid fascination to see exactly how things are being done, especially in the slaughterhouse. One scene that sticks in my head is of a blond lady casually cutting off the legs of cows carcasses gliding by...or a shot of pigs being transported to the slaughterhouse. I really, really, really love pigs, ya know, and there were some cute pigs in that van, showing off for the camera almost! So a lot of curious insights, no clear direction and an elegant and overall almost ambient feel. Time Out calls it "a 'Koyaanisquaatsi' for meat and metal fetishists" and that's not too far off in my opinion, haha

I wasn't sure whether i should really stay on but managed to score a ticket for another very good film in Cinema 1. "I Don't want To Sleep Alone" by Tsai Ming-Lian is a long atmospheric sort of love story with hardly any spoken words, set in a slummy city in Malaysia, with long, vaguely horrific, trippy scenes in run down apartments, bedrooms, cafes, corridors, construction sites and an all encompassing smoke/fog during the last bits. By that point I was sort of a vegetable already, I finally got this cold thats been going around and it was the first day of it, and for some reason the films slow-moving but nevertheless captivating and engrossing mood fitted it well. I really liked it. Need to go to the cinema a bit more...there's something about seeing films in such an environment too, however uncomfortable and expensive it can be, there's something about being sucked in together and not being able to switch off that makes it more powerful.

1 comment:

Gavin said...

Used to do the LFF in a big way, 20+ films in 2 weeks, but haven't had the money/time to do that in a while now. Shame, 'cos I really used to enjoy it. Something really good about watching some obscure film in the afternoon, midweek, when you should really be at work