Friday, October 10, 2008

Pablo Lamar embraces death

With a slate of depressing flat neo-realist films this time out, I was ready to give up on this year's edition of the New York Film Festival. Luckily, alongside the features, they also screen short films, one of which I raved about recently: Sam Taylor-Wood's Love You More.

There was another one recently that I found spectacularly minimal yet moving- Pablo Lamar's I Hear You Scream. The 11-minute film from the Paraguay director begins with a few minutes of the scene you see here in the photo above. There's no sound and it even seems that there's no movement until you look closely in the right corner and notice that a few leaves are shaking in the wind. It would seem maddening to watch this but because it's framed so beautifully, you're transfixed by it instead- the figure on the hill, the front of the house, the tree, the phone line above, the late/early day setting, everything in silhouette. What is the person doing in front, just standing there, we wonder.

Eventually, the sound comes in and we hear the wind blowing the leaves around and some crickets chirping away. Eventually, we hear some sort of choir (maybe children) singing. It's not quite mournful but not quite a celebration either. Later, in a what seems like an eternity, the figure finally walks up to the house and goes inside. Soon, a process comes out, again all in silhouette and seemingly silent, and we see that the people in the front are carrying something. It looks like a piece of furniture but soon we realize that the long box is in fact a coffin. They walk down the hill and off to the side, followed by other people and soon disappear.

Not long after, a figure walks out on the porch alone- we assume it's the same person who was standing in front alone. They sit on the small chair in front, staring off into the distance. Gradually, the whole scene darkens more as we slowly see less and less. It begins harder to make out the figure, the house, the tree or anything. We watch, wondering if we see anything at all. Then the scene goes pitch black and soon the sound is gone too.

In all, a brilliant, moving meditation on death that Bergman surely would have loved. Along with an appearance at the NYFF, the film was also noted at Cannes and won an award recently in Prague. And now you have to wonder what else Lamar will have to say in a longer format.


Blogger Paula said...

The Grand Prix of Tampere Film Festival's International Competition was awarded to Pablo Lamar's fictional film Ahendu nde sapukai (2008). The film made history by being the first Paraguayan film to participate in the International Competition. The Jury described the film as "a meditation on life, death and sorrow in one beautifully composed frame".

10:09 AM  

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