Are you a leftist?

Dragan Rubeša

Just as every revolution, including the jubilee ’68, the 11th edition of the Subversive Film Festival becomes a territory, place and identity. This is why our vocation is to strengthen the diversity of voices seeking to be heard. Forever to stay wild at heart. To hold onto a type of a “discontinued continuity” (pardon our oxymoron). To consolidate our already existing program, but also to break our path with some new radical pieces, which will force us to a full-blooded dialogue. Forever to be in motion, on the road. Not to isolate ourselves to a fortress of conventions, but to accept the game and its risks. To accept a political stance as a possibility of seduction and a game of revealing. To seek the bravest segment of (film) pleasure.

There is some damned symbolism in the fact that two films from our feature competition pose the same question: “Are you a leftist?” In the Wandering Soap Opera by Raul Ruiz, the question is posed in an artificial Chilean soap opera, where it sounds utterly grotesque and ironic. In The Nothing Factory by Pedro Pinho, a hungover girl poses the same question to the Italian cineaste Daniele Incalcaterra, after spending night in a club on a hardcore gig of her friend’s Ze, whose elevator factory went bankrupt. After his negative response, she will ask: “Are you a fascist mother fucker who came here to show off?” The response was again negative. “If you want to divide the world into two opposed poles, it’s not left-wing and right-wing. It is a world where one side agrees with this world and accepts it, whereas the other side wants to renounce it. The poorer you are, the more you lean to the latter side,” Ze will tell the director. However, Incalcaterra’s negative response relates more to his frustration with the state of the European left today.

Our festival parallels do not stop here. In the drama The Order of Things (L’Ordine delle cose) by our old acquaintance Andrea Segre, a high official from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs goes to Tripoli, where, accompanied by his French colleague, he visits the refugee centre resembling a prison. There he gives him a flower bulb, a present from his wife. While the said bulb travels a long journey from Italy through Libya to France, in the dox Wild Relatives by Jumana Manna we have seeds from war-battered crops of the Syrian Aleppo, which are transported through Beirut to Norwegian Svalbard Global Seed Vault, where its scientists would protect and replicate it in their labs. But, where in Segre’s piece refugees suffer through their agony in non-human conditions, in Aïnouz’s dox Tempelhof Airport (Zentralflughafen THF), they are put into hangari of a former Berlin airport. And in Piazza Vittorio, Abel Ferrara shares with them the same neighborhood in Rome, and shops in the same mini-market, held by a Bangladeshi man.

We also deal with the bodies in the colonial and horror discourse. The bodies of young legionaries isolated in an old Algerian villa (Le Fort des fous) and bodies painted in the red of blood and war close to madness (Zama). The bodies of monsters whose hands are reminiscent of Craven’s Freddy Krueger (Waldheims Walzer). The bodies in a voodoo trance (Cocote). The bodies which do not consent to the dictates of the pingu eiga pixelization (Ne zamaraj se sitnicama / Edaha no koto). The bodies of drowned shahids in a ritual washing (Martyr).

There are also the small great films whose procédés couldn’t be more relevant. Yeksan’s The Gulf (Körfez), which connects politics and ecology, and where due to a burning oil tanker everyone has to wear protective masks, is reminiscent of all our LNG terminals. In Mladenačkim usamljenostima / Premières solitudes, irresistible Claire Simon is writing her intimate curriculum, listening to students of a Parisian high school open to each others in long conversations and look into each others’ eyes. And in the documentary Kada dođu svinje, reminiscent of Žilnik’s late work, Biljana Tutorov listens to her aunt who “loves politics” and has four TV sets in her apartment.

A small great film Lucky by John Carroll Lynch, with which we open the Festival, is also our in memoriam to the recently passed Harry Dean Stanton, whose Mexican ballad, which he performs in a wedding followed by mariachi, will haunt us forever. The actor’s tired face, emerging from the desert like a Giacometti’s silhouette, is reminiscent of his Travis from Paris, Texas. Maybe his bar, where he hangs out with David Lynch, who lost his turtle, is also his personal purgatory. Because Lucky is a film in which simple emotions become complex, and where complex questions turn into simple ones. To call phone information in order to check whether “realism is a thing”. “No, it’s not a thing, but shit” – they say. The way out of shit is always there. Maybe it hides in the final smile with which the author’s old cowboy tries to defeat his fear of death.