To say the least, today left us feeling dismantled. Torn apart. Broken in pieces.
We had the rare opportunity to experience three very weighty films back-to-back-to-back. While the anticipated schedule already prepared us for the exhaustion to come, we weren’t quite prepared for the emotional aftershocks which followed each film.
We began roller coaster ride wit The Square, a first hand account of the Egyptian revolts which have plagued the nation for over two years now. The footage viewed proved the dedication to the cause of the revolution by the filmmakers as they placed themselves in harms way to capture the unfolding of these events, whilst maintaining high quality composition. While it was in documentary form, we were drawn into what seemed like a narrative. Rarely did we have the moment to pause for breath or even collect our thoughts. I don’t know how many times I wanted to release tears on behalf of these oppressed yet passionate individuals, but there was not even a spare second for that.
The sense of being bombarded by a collection of cultural chaotic sounds of street life and emphatic outcries of the revolutionaries, invaded our personal space to the point of discomfort. The desperate efforts to take down Mubarak were successful, but the goal to remove the regime still seeks completion. With Mubarak’s term at it’s end, the nation’s army took control of the government, leaving protesters without hope. In order to eliminate the peaceful proposals of the revolutionaries, the army resorted to a violent solution. While US media has been dominated by stories surrounding these events over the past two years, the film opened our eyes to the harsh reality of the situation in Egypt, leaving us feeling utterly helpless.
From there, we rushed to what ended up being for most of us one of the most stunning narrative films: Circles, a Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian collaboration by Srdan Golubovic. This reflection on true events concerning cultural conflict was a refreshing story on the power of forgiveness. As the film’s title suggests, the central figures in the story saw their lives intertwine around the compassionate actions of the film’s protagonist.
Golubovic completed that circle by withholding the essential payoffs till the final scenes of the film. In a similar manner, the film played on various repetitions within character blocking and shot composition. In one example, there were many instances in which the audience watched the simple action of a character walking to his/her next destination. In each sequence, the shots were paralleled by a medium close up of the character’s face, followed by the exact framing focused on the back of his/her head, and a wide shot in which the character pressed in and out of frame.
Unlike The Square, Circles allowed for much breathing room as each shot extended over a long period of time and reflected the idea of loneliness by leaving empty space within the frame; even the color reflected a pallet of loneliness. All of these elements (payoff, space, and loneliness) were encapsulated by the final breath-taking shot, which unfortunately we won’t describe here. Hoping that the film picks up a theater release, we strongly encourage you to see it for yourselves.
Anticipating yet another difficult film to swallow, we apprehensively approached our final film of the evening: God Loves Uganda. This documentary possessed a more political agenda as it reflected on the Anti-Homosexual laws pending approval by the Ugandan Parliament.
First impressions of the film left us in a blur as we spent the first half hour trying to determine what the film was actually about. While we felt the entirety of the production value didn’t meet the standards set by previous Sundance films seen during the week, our minds had been opened to the degradation of homosexuals in that country. With a strong Christian presence in the film, while it wasn’t necessarily enjoyable to watch, we came to the consensus that the Evangelical community should have the opportunity to see the film. It’s not hard to see that the film reflects a lot of what shifts are happening within our present society.
Had we the opportunity to pick the schedule of film viewing for ourselves, we would never have suggested this line-up. Being overwhelmed by a visceral collection of vastly different emotions, we were reminded of the life-changing impact a film has the ability to possess.
-Anna Marie Carey, Krista Rose Koester, and Chris Behnen