The Sequels of Absence

IIlian Metev had already proved to be a sagacious observer with Sofía’s Last Ambulance,  a documentary where he followed three paramedics in charge of a busy ambulance in a capital city. In 3/4, the Bulgarian director now resorts to fiction to put his sensitive look on the vicissitudes of familial relationships and bonds. 
Mila is a dubious piano student who is overwhelmed by the idea of not passing an exam which would enable her to keep studying in Germany. Her brother, Niki, is a dynamic vivacious pre-adolescent who masters the art of provocation. Todor, their father, is distressed by his struggle to leave an academic world who affectively disconnects him from his children. And they are not alone: the figure of an absence lives with them, a mother that only takes shape narratively, as an ellipsis.

Metev makes no concessions with characters that resort to sentimentalism nor does he submit them to a learning process that by the end of the film has made them lovable. His work is rather a craft focused on imperceptible details.  The camera keeps on searching those tiny little moves that bring people closer, though they keep them distant at the same time. Nothing is harder for images than revealing an interior. Maybe that is the purpose of 3/4, considering how it insists on showing faces that elude close-ups; eyes that instead of contemplating, look at themselves; or strolls where it is hard to guess what is actually going on. The camera masterfully relies on the use of the light that delineates the characters in darkness or penetrates them simple in their luminosity.
Through sound performances by non-actors -the role of Niki, interpreted by a brilliant Nikolai Mashalov, surprises-, Metev composes a sort of musical piece that is expressed by means of precise dialogues and a rigorous use of the tempo. Does the title allude to a musical beat? Or is it a reference to that mysterious maternal absence it is barely mentioned?
Human relationships, even familial ones, -the films seems to be saying- rest in distance, in the gap between one and the other, an other we never get to know: they are marked by a something that is always escaping. Metev sends the obvious off the camera and leaves the spectator the same lovely restlessness the faces of the protagonists offer.


Gustavo Toba


Today, Sun 19, 15.10, AMB 4
Today, Sun 26, 10.30 CIN 2


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