Initially indifferent to one another, the competition films have drawn closer together almost unwittingly. After a year of patient and curious searching, we were among the first to see them. We discussed them. Were rarely tempted to compare them. Above all, surprised to find that each of us, beyond the enthusiasm of discovery, was building a different passionate relationship with the films, letting them take a place in our house before opening the doors wider.
You never know just where a film can lead you.
This succinct detour into the wings of how the selection was made is not gratuitous. What these films record is time – its stretching, its shrinking, its accelerations, the delicacy of its unintentional, precise or flexible folds – rather than their purpose or structure. It is the common hallmark of their belonging to the world, an unmapped meeting point for the disconnected presences they offer our gaze.
Not because none of them lacks an interest in space, they all embrace the diversity of our world’s topographies: here, some islands, there, they open a door into the desert, plunge us into a city or more specifically a street, journey to a home village, contemplate the horizonless steppe, sail down a twilight river, zigzag in a barrio, even discover a house in the trees…
But what they set in motion, even doing so from a point in the future and another planet, are precisely the modalities of the emergence of time as a breach, an accident, an irregularity. These incidents call us back to the poignant feeling of existence, to the troubling sensation of never really knowing whether the passage of time draws us closer to or further away from things. This is what Öndög in particular seems to suggest.
In cinema, time is not the trace of what has happened but rather the reverse, the sensitive hypothesis of what can remain present: the suspended time of the Piqueuses on Rodrigues Island; time to pause, when the spoken word converses in all familiarity with a vast off-screen world at 143, Sahara Street; time slowed down, opened up to the point of dizziness in No.7 Cherry Lane: waiting without end or beginning for the return of a son as the season of the khakis is approaching (When the Persimmons Grew); a father’s fierce struggle against river currents and the violences of history (The Valley of Souls); time folded and unfolded like a spring turning Vietnamese memory into science fiction (The Tree House); the time needed to discover what appearances hide to as to better gauge the height of the wave (Height of The Wave); time for action when, In the Heart of the World, you still want to believe that the end is not a foregone conclusion. Time is an elusive number.
Unwittingly, cinema revealed this from its very first hours. From its night sprang day.
And its nights remain as intense as we would like to see our days become.