Like most changed realities after COVID, there is ample fodder for both hope and concern. While centrally located theaters are thriving marvelously, places a little off the beaten track are having more trouble than usual coaxing people to journey out for old films.
Four minutes into the film I can already appreciate the spaciousness and quasi-documentary simplicity that would have endeared my head-in-the-clouds 16-year-old self. Ambient sounds, dreamy transitions, and preference for human faces over narrative momentum lend Syndromes a remarkable directness of expression.
Night of the Kings is a testament to a more inclusive future: actors are sourced not only from Abidjan but also from France and Burkina Faso, and the director pointedly serves us up a medley of western art touchstones and West-African traditions.
Structurally, Territorio is indebted to James Benning, whose geographical features are made up of meticulous static long takes assembled around central themes. But while Benning is the master of depopulated Western landscape shots, Cuesta serves up people and faces in lieu of places.
Through documentary Gagnon attempts to right the wrongs of Flaherty’s falsifications by contrasting Nanook the happy Eskimo with a survey of real Inuit experiences, and through dreamy fiction Gomes responds to Flaherty and Murnau’s imperialist ethnography by altering its structure.