Director and screenplay: Oda Kaori
Running Time: 68 min
Release Date: October 10, 2015
Official site: aragane-film.info/
In 2012, after the release in 2012 of The Horse of Turin, what is her latest film, Bela Tarr decides to channel her genius in different ways and to put her long experience in the cinema world at the service of the youngest. The Hungarian director creates a film.factory, a kind of school, a permanent workshop, a “home” where he brings together filmmakers from all over the world to help them in the formation, through master classes of scholars, filmmakers and directors, and eventually of the path, in the production of a film. All of this in a creative atmosphere that is favorable to creation, as far as possible from that of a traditional school or university, even though film.factory is housed in one of these, a space where you can experience forms of non-traditional education . The city chosen by Tarr for this project is Sarajevo because, according to his own words, “is a multicultural city with a mixture of Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim culture, a city full of tensions and I believe it is an ideal place for young filmmakers” .
The course started 3 years ago and is about to end, nowadays it houses sixteen filmmakers from fourteen countries all over the world, and one of the work from this experimental laboratory that has attracted more attention is Aragane. This is an experimental cut by Oda Kaori, and premiered at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival last October and then at the beginning of November at Doc Lisboa in Portugal. Sixty-five minutes from the beginning we are transported to the cynology, dissonant and obscure world of a coal mine in a location in Bosnia.
The camcorder’s eyes follow the miners in their underground shifts, in almost total darkness disrupted only by light beams that are just as shimmering for the eyes, but even though we often hear these workers exchanging jokes or pressing some buttons to drive various machines Real stars of this work are others. The materiality of the elements, the machinery and the alien space of the mine are the real focus of the work. Everything is constantly immersed in a deafening background noise, a noise, that of machinery, which at times becomes almost rhythm and noise music. The film starts out from the outside and slowly, accompanying workers through long sequence sequences, moves directly inside the mine, within its dilated time and its space. Once you get used to the slow and repetitive rhythm of the film and its geographies made of dark and chiaroscuro rembrandtans, you literally succumb to its cinematic fabric. With all due respect, we are faced with a cinematic experience contiguous to that conjured up by the masterpiece of Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, Leviathan.
For admission of the same director, rather than focusing on the problems and working conditions of the miners, but in a scene, however, come to light, and in contrast even more strongly, Aragane wants to capture the space and duration of the place they live in . What comes out in the end is a fascinating, though not revolutionary work. As we have said, some proximity to the films produced by the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab are just as apparent to the eyes, but the film is a breath of fresh air in the panorama of contemporary Japanese documentary, often too linked to a certain type of cinema realistic as a journalistic design or less inclined to stylistic experimentation. Certainly there is little Japanese in Aragane, Oda itself seems to be a city of the world and its permanence in the film.factory enhances this aspect, nevertheless to find a non-fiction work of this impact and originality in the archipelago we need maybe back more than 50 years and rediscover the beautiful Ishi no uta by Matsumoto Toshio of 1963, short documentary made using photographs of a granite quarry and its workers.
Oda is good then to give the right importance to the sound, a noise that in some sequences we can almost touch is so intense and on the other side when the machines are turned off, sudden moments of total silence that attack us with their absence. At the time of staying in the womb of the earth and before going back to surface – the final scenes for the vivid colors in contrast to the darkness of the subsoil are an explosion for the eyes – it’s hard to figure out what’s going on in front to our eyes and have visual orientation points. We see and hear machines, but we do not know what shape they have or what they are, the same as people and places, we rarely see their somatic traits, we hear them but we can hardly put them in connection with what’s standing around them and in the end do not even understand the specific work I’m doing. In this sense, the film is a work that rejects information and the (direct) aspect of documentary or cinema in general, trying to make sense and shape to what is seen is not the most correct way with which to deal with this work. Aragane is experienced as an abstract or informal painting on the move, we are beyond the narrative but also beyond the forms, to guide us and to expect inside it there is a logic of feeling and a cinema that seems to talk about the part of things . [Katsuyuki Nakanishi]