The Warping of IDs

By Young Film Critic Martin Kudláč

ID: Check is an all-encompassing theme crisscrossing the sections of the 45th IFFR – and reaching beyond. This topical umbrella theme dissects gender from the perspective of identities (ID:, explores the fluidity of identities (ID: The Generic Self), spotlights specific micro-communities (ID: Community Cameras) and focuses in on Burmese identity (ID: Burma Rebound).

"We are trying to move beyond the anecdotal and the obvious and we should start thinking a bit further down the road," explains festival director Bero Beyer of the intention behind the theme, adding "… this is why I think cinema is such an important thing, because the emotional experience cinema can bring is not necessarily anecdotal, immediate or based on actuality, but it gives a more emotional experience which often takes time, and that is what cinema is; art in time."

Technology, the global market and consumption overshadow our own biological codes

Evgeny Gusyatinskiy, the programmer of ID: The Generic Self, states that the theme's basic objective is to show "the relationship of something given – an innate code – to the external contemporary world." He opens his musings with Warhol's anecdote about finding one specific brand of fast food all over the globe: an almost mechanical wave of globalization and adjustment according to one predominant and reigning reference standard. "Technology, the global market, affordable traveling, consumption; they all started to overshadow our own biological codes and we are more influenced by these than what is in our DNA," Gusyatinskiy comments on external factors triggering the synthetic metamorphosis of identities.

ID: The Generic Self consists of eight stylistically and formally diverse features wrestling with the loss of authentic identity. This phenomenon is epitomized by Charlie Kaufman’s latest existential stop-motion drama Anomalisa, set in the sterile and anonymous space of a hotel (a space holding not enough spatial significance and thus a "non-space" – a notion introduced by Marc Augé). It is inhabited by identical, bland faces speaking with the same voice like an army of clones, all except one – the anomaly referred to in the title.

The warping of identities creates a new specific typology, in addition to homogeneity and uniformity, one aspect of which is the "new nomad" – a state of uprooted being as depicted in the magnificently composed tableaux of Vahid Hakimzadeh's Greater Things, an observational hybrid of documentary and fiction anchored in the "generic city" of Tokyo. "The notion of home has changed, as have the notions of family or marriage. Now we are living either in-between places or we have several homes and these change a lot" – Gusyatinskiy pinpoints the leitmotif of Vahid Hakimzadeh´s film as an organic link to the theme.

perfect also means blank, anonymous

However, a sophomore feature from Austrian filmmaker (and 2013 Tiger Award winner) Daniel Hoesl, WINWIN, takes a satirical and mordant stab at the voracious appetites of the upper echelons in the free market economy and the slipping of the majority of the world’s assets into too few private hands in a cabaret of monster capitalism, capturing this in a "super-precise, symmetrical, superarticulated" series of images.

"I think Todd Haynes’ film Safe (1995) is still relevant, about the loss and construction of identity and how the material world defines us and the way we feel ourselves; it is also about a world where everything should be perfect. But perfect also means blank, anonymous" Gusyatinskiy concludes. The films gravitating to and around identity are scattered throughout the festival's selections, and include Simon Pummel’s very Phillip K. Dick-ian allegory Brand New-U, dealing with identity, interchangeability and fabrication while speaking volumes about the highly topical issues raised throughout IFFR’s ID:Check programming.