And so the penultimate day of the festival ends. To be honest, it really does almost feel like day nine was kind of the final day; certainly for press and industry, anyway. All of the press screenings end by the afternoon, and it’s the last day the press office and the video tape library are open all day. We had a fairly quiet day, filling in some films that we didn’t get a chance to see in the festival until now, before hitting the Peter Mettler Elsewhere event and the Midnight Madness. We heard that there was a Vice Magazine party on, but we also heard something ridiculous like it was held in an abandoned factory that was on fire.
Manufactured Landscapes: The initial shot of this film (a long tracking shot of a gigantic factory in China) followed by the image Edward Burtynsky took of the same location sets up an interesting premise: Peter Mettler’s cinematography vs. Edward Burtynsky’s art, but there’s something wrong with this documentary, directed by Jennifer Baichwal; the images are all nice but there’s some vital hook missing to make it more than the sum of its parts. Burtynsky’s art is strong enough that it doesn’t need a cinematic framing. 2/5
Slumming: I actually consider Manufactured Landscapes to compare very poorly to Workingman’s Death, Michael Glawogger’s documentary from last year’s festival that covered a lot of the same themes. Glawogger is back this year with a fiction film about a couple of men who like to go “slumming”; going to the slums of Vienna and experiencing life there in a rude, ironic fashion, culminating in their choice to drop a unconscious homeless person across the border in the Czech Republic without his papers. This film is mostly a character study and actually quite lacking in the beautiful cinematography from Workingman’s Death, but the sound design is superb. Not a particularly strong narrative, however. 2.5/5
Princess: Anders Morgenthaler’s debut feature is an amazingly angry film. Using an interesting mix of animation and live-action to tell the story of August, who returns from missionary work abroad as his sister, a porn star, has finally succumbed to addiction and died, leaving her five year old daughter, Mia, in the hands of a brothel madam. August, driven essentially mad by Mia’s obvious abuse and his own culpability in his sister’s fate goes on a horrific trip of revenge with Mia in tow. This is a beautifully created film about horrible things; there are some deeply disturbing truths here that should make the viewer very, very angry about the porn industry. This film wears its heart on its sleeve, but though it has a strong morality it’s also quite sadistic. Difficult but powerful viewing, there’s actually quite a lot of depth to it. 3.5/5