Les États généraux du film documentaire 2006 Pieces of an opus : Arunas Matelis

Pieces of an opus : Arunas Matelis


A Community of Perspectives
Arunas Matelis' films have been presented at many festivals and so has his latest work, his first feature-length documentary, Before Flying Back to the Earth. After having presented Audrius Stonys in 2003, we are now presenting another Lithuanian filmmaker by showing a piece of opus. Both artists occasionally co-direct films and for a very long time remained attached to a short film format as it corresponds best to their ethereal stories. In their films there is an obsession with flight and altitude that is not devoid of a religious tones and which we seek the origins in the dreamlike opening scene of The Childhood of Ivan by Tarkovski.
Time is drawn out in these films so as to enable an event to emerge. Or, on the contrary, to remove any notion of event from what is being put into play, so that the subjects, whose drunkenness sometimes defies balance, can go in and out of the picture. Commonplace gestures warrant special attention and the subjects are chosen for their beautiful faces, the power of their look, or their burlesque appearance. The editing and the sound track are also highly evident dramatic devices in these “invented documentaries”. The Russian film tradition is evident. The same tradition that influenced the Ukranian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa and the highly renowned Lithuanian filmmaker Šarunas Bartas, who received their training at the VGIK.
These four directors, all members of the same generation, built personal and professional communities. This is particularly true of Bartas, who welcomed into his home-studio the people who shared his visions, from Loznitsa to Carax. Two ways of returning to one’s roots: a return to the films of Bartas and a return to his first films. His film school project, a work where Vilnius is seen through the eyes of a street puppeteer, has been scheduled for a special showing. This film will enable us to observe the relations described earlier that reach as far as Blockade by Loznitsa, where the sound track, composed by Vladimir Golovnitski, the sound engineer who has been working with Bartas since his second feature film in 1995, The Corridor, is as much a raw material as the archive footage. This film, of brutal beauty, contains all of the characters that he incessantly explores such as childhood, which constantly makes its way into communities that are falling apart, where boredom gives way to celebration. The latter brings all of the wandering people in the film together and sometimes sends them their bodies into a frenzy that leads them to murder.
In his latest film, Artel, Sergei Loznitsa creates a fresco that depicts the daily tasks of a small community through distinct scenes: fishing in a frozen land, the chronology of events is the only explanation provided: the meaning of their skilled movements is understood only by the rare skilled observer, what remains is the powerful and gentle vitality of their gestures.
Arunas Matelis films in a hospital where children are fighting for their lives. He is reliving a personal ordeal. It is a gesture of approval, which is always risky when one is filming children who are suffering from illness. In part, it is through play, the child in front of the camera and the child behind the camera, that Matelis is able to maintain his distance.
Christophe Postic.