«All of what cannot be labeled as realism is regarded as subversive»
Niles Atallah presents his film, running in the Latin American Competition.
As an hypnotic dream of impossible colors and shapes, Rey is an hallucinating journey to the sick mind of Orllie-Antonie de Tounens, the self-proclaimed king of the Araucanía Region. Through an episodic structure, the director Niles Atallah leaves the official biography aside and makes an audiovisual work that seems to come from the hands of an artisan of sound and celluloid.
What inspired you to revisit the story of Orllie-Antonie de Tounens?
I was intrigued by the story of this French town-lawyer who dreamt about being the king of a far land he didn't know. I found him to be a complex, absurd, heroic and, at the same time, pathetic character. I was impressed by how dedicated he was to his dream, which became a sick obsession that devoured the rest of his life. But it was precisely that complete, limitless, relentless devotion that went against all the rational voices of his era what exposes him as some sort of poet.
One of the film's highlights is, among others, a unique manipulation of celluloid, of sound, of color and of archival material. What can you tell us, in that regard, about the making of Rey?
I decided to create my own archive and fill in the gaps of his story with fictional inaccurate archives. During the development of the script, I recorded the actor in 16 mm and buried the film after revealing it. I would then dig them up periodically to check them and digitalize the images during the different stages of their decomposition. At the same time, while I witnessed the decomposition of the images, I wrote the script and the film started taking shape. This way, the spectator witnesses the way in which "memories" decompose, physically, through the celluloid emulsion and narratively, through the transformation of memories throughout the movie.
It's notorious how Rey obeys to a logic of representation that is close both to theater -as in the trial scenes- and to silent films -in the recreation of battles-. How did that idea came up and what did you mean with that plurality of form?
I took lots of inspiration in the freedom I've seen in the early stages of cinematography. In this beginning I saw a way of approaching cinematographic creation with no restriction, with no encoding, yet, of the narrative logic of the scenes we have nowadays. I felt the need to use different modes of representation that are not linked to realism. I think realism has taken over the cinematographic aesthetics; all of what cannot be labeled as realism is regarded as foreign or subversive. I tried to explore other territories of representation with Rey. Unfortunately, these type of films are usually bound to be labeled as "experimental", an ambiguous category, when the truth is that everything this film is deeply born in the character and arises out of a narrative necessity.
What where your influences when it comes to think the general aesthetic of the film?
The aesthetic of Rey evolved and took shape while I was investigating the story of Orllie-Antoine, while I came across all the gaps in the historical archive. I knew I couldn't approach the story of this man with a mere biopic film or a vintage movie. It needed a particular treatment that was true to the character's spirit and to his ability to dream. Aesthetically, Rey doesn't present an external reality that can be constructed empirically, instead, it presents a space where external and rational notions cannot be separated from everything else. Reason and heroicity coexist with irrationality, fantasy and absurdity.
What new projects are you working on?
I'm starting do develop a project that could lead to several films instead of only one. But it's too soon to discuss that.
Today, Fri 24, 12.30 pm, CIN 2
Today, Fri 24, 9.40 pm, CIN 2
Sat 25, 1.15 pm, CIN 2