In this 'making of' about Albert Serra’s latest feature Birdsong, the director and VIFF programmer Mark Peranson takes a look at how Serra’s oeuvre came about. Serra rarely works from a script and leaves his amateur actors and crew, all from a small village outside Barcelona, in ignorance about the precise intentions of his film. He starts from a basic ambition; in this film, for instance, he wants to strip the biblical story of the Three Wise Men of any dramatic cloak in order to turn the quest of the three men into a pure act of unknowing surrender. Peranson, who himself plays the Hebrew-speaking Joseph in a film further spoken in Catalan, observes the crew and actors in their improvisational quest for the best shot. Serra shipped off his regular crew to a Canary Island he hardly knew himself. This intervention was intended to unlink the familiar bond between actors and landscape and raise the narrative to an abstract level. The contrast between Peranson's colourful shots and the black-and-white aesthetics of Birdsong is great, but the two directors also display similarities.
Both in the feature and in the documentary, long tranquil shots are juxtaposed between the short dialogues and both films end with a prophetic picture that safeguards time from all urgency.
Birdsong is selected for the Spectrum programme.