Waiting for a film to start, it has already begun. Whether heading towards a cinema, or getting comfortable on the sofa at home, expectations already feed our imagination and trigger ideas about the film to come.
Written by Edwin Carels
This form of anticipation can be rather ephemeral and inarticulate, or alternatively completely conscious and full of excitement. Triggered by prior viewing experiences, we already have a sense of what to expect, even when expecting the unexpected.
Waiting is not only a prospective, but also an introspective activity. It casts us back onto ourselves, whilst also making us extra aware of the people we are surrounded by. Waiting therefore sharpens the desire for the manifestation of something or someone else.
Amidst the hectic overstimulation that a festival traditionally offers, Wait and See is an attempt to create an oasis of quiet concentration. The main ambition is to reinvigorate the sensation of film viewing as an experience, as an experiment with the self. The duality of the title is reflected in the twofold approach to presentation: both inside and outside the cinema.
ZumirikiOskar Alegria IFFR 2020 122′
Spending four months in total isolation in a tree hut need not result in ultimate boredom; the opposite, in fact.
Like a modern-day hermit, a man retreats to a tree hut for four months, hoping to recapture the lost spontaneity of his youth. At once meditative and very playful, the filmmaker gets the maximum from his minimalist setting. He allows poetry to invade his time capsule and the rhythm of nature to take over.
For the cinema, a selection of nine feature films and three compilation programmes invites the viewer to reflect upon such notions as the discovery of one’s personal biorhythm (Dreamlife, 15 Days, Zumiriki), the obstinate patience that is required for social change (Common Birds, Fortezza, Nothing to Be Afraid of), or dealing with the existential awareness of life’s finitude (Cemetery, Meanwhile on Earth, Sicherheit123). Although all these films do take their time and have their own pace, the focus is not merely on the aestheticisation of duration.
DreamlifeMelvin Moti IFFR 2020 85′
Do scientists dream of digital mice? Adventurous film about sensory deprivation and bizarre side effects, based on true story of Michel Siffre.
Taking a 1960s scientific experiment as its starting point, this trippy, hypnotic exploration of human sleep allows visual artist Melvin Moti to expand his vocabulary in surprising ways. While staying faithful to his long-time obsessions, he also immerses the viewer in his laboratory, and allows his imagination to run wild.
The same goes for the three compilation programmes. Time Will Tell focuses on the quiet anticipation of physical movement, physiological change and the sociological implications of moving to another place. Time and Place addresses the thirst for empathy in barren times, the need to find a roof above one’s head and a personal anchor point in the cosmos. Time and Tide alternates between linear and cyclic patterns of time, both in the outside world and incorporated into one’s own daily rhythm between waking and dreaming.
At the same time, every film in these compilations retains its autonomy. Instead of the usual accumulation of one title right after another, there is a breathing space between each film. As a result, the entire duration of each compilation is notably different from the durations of the individual films added together. The intervals here become actual interludes: short musical breaks allow each film to resonate a little longer and foreground the viewing experience time and again.
Another particular setting to engage with the Wait and See programming is a small, somewhat hidden space at the very heart of the festival centre, purposefully adapted as a waiting room. The viewing circumstances here similarly challenge any conventionalised mode of consuming films. This is a space arranged like an archetypal waiting room, with chairs aligned against the wall, magazines on a low table, and a video monitor hanging from the ceiling.
One can enter at any time of the day, have a seat, and wait for something to appear on the screen. A daily alternating selection of short films, each between three and thirty minutes long, is presented at irregular intervals. Sometimes there is only a brief pause, and sometimes it takes a quarter of an hour or more for the next film to appear.
The films are all new works (and even include a lot of world premieres), mostly by young makers ‘still in the waiting room’ for an international career. Their content and style differ widely, and there is no curatorial cohesion here, apart from the ambition to leave the viewer puzzled and stimulate a discussion among the happy few people in attendance. Behind this waiting room lies yet another space. Occasionally the door will open to invite visitors individually to enter this much wider room (somewhere between a doctor or therapist’s space), where a number of audio-visual installations are on display.
A couple of times per day, at fixed moments, the door to this consulting room will also open for a larger group of people to attend either a special session around one filmmaker (First Symptoms), a more interactive workshop (Group Therapy) or a surprise event (On Prescription). For daily programme details: wait and see the festival website.
In collaboration with Codarts Composers Ensemble, Piet Zwart Institute (Lens-Based Media study path) and Studio de Doelen.
Photo in header: Still: Architekturen des Wartens (1997)