Thursday, August 28, 2008

Unas Fotos en la Ciudad de Sylvia (Photos in the City of Sylvia)

I really wish I have seen this so-called “documentary” before watching the movie En la Ciudad de Sylvia, as in my opinion not only that’s the way the project was conceived, but also gives you insights to really appreciate the movie in a completely different way.

This Catalonian José Luis Guerín film absolutely it’s NOT a documentary, it is a film that tells a “story” with many black and white photographs and some written words from the director; and it is an interesting “story” that allows you to see perhaps the most literal definition of movies as moving images.

But I’m positive that whatever you have seen before related to showing a succession of photographs, or have imagined, it will be nothing alike to this film. In that sense or any other sense, this is truly an original film. No doubt about it.

For about an hour you will be able to see one photograph after another, with intermittent black screens with white lettered messages from the director that will reflect his thoughts. All this is done in absolute silence, no sound, no music, and no people talking. But, be sure that most of you will not be able to take your eyes from the screen.

I have to be honest with you all, for a few seconds in one particular moment I had to take my eyes from the screen as I had a brief dizzily spell due to some “tricks” the director uses. But I believe it is consequence of me being totally mesmerized and hypnotized by what I was watching in the screen. Then it was not until I read about the film that I really noticed its duration, as for me the film was a lot shorter and it was hard to believe that for almost an hour I was able to watch photograph after photograph.

I have been doing some experiments with moving photos, but this film totally changed my perspective and possibilities to do any time duration films. Not many of you know that I have another blog about telling stories with photos (it’s too personal, that’s why only a few know), but now I’m absolutely excited with the possibilities and yes, I’m slowly working on a new story that eventually I will publish.

I wont change my spontaneous review of En la Ciudad de Sylvia, but I’ll tell you that in my head I discovered so many hidden messages that the director gave in that movie, that now I see it beyond being an cinematic experience.

This film is not only the companion piece of En la Ciudad de Sylvia, but also is the companion to an exposition installation produced for the Spanish Pavillion at the 52nd Venice Biennial in 2007 called Las Mujeres Que No Conocemos (Women we don’t know) that has been described as a “narrative photo-installation”, a format midway between film and photography and that the Centre de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona describes as a “step nearer the meeting between filmmaker and museum”.

This also very interesting exposition completes what the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Center describes as “three different formats around a single discourse and theme, the director’s reflection on the female portrait, fugitive time and cinematographic creation". Well, this is truly an exceptional creative project by José Luis Guerín.

Obviously if you’re interested in photography you surely will enjoy this film; but if you’re interested in watching very original and different films, then I suggest you give it a try. Still, this is a must be seen film for those that enjoy serious cinema and definitively a must be seen film BEFORE watching En la Ciudad de Sylvia.

Big Enjoy!!!

P.S. This is dedicated to my photographer friend that perhaps could stimulate and persuade some of his Spanish acquaintances to bring to this country the complete creative project, as I would just love to see the exposition, the photo-film and the movie, one after the other, as one unique experience! Pleaseeee!!!

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