Altered States Competition

Best Film - Ex aequo to «Casanova Gen» and «Chaos»



After making Coma in 2016 – a film that depicted her family’s everyday life during the bombardment of Damascus – the director left her native country but took the war with her. Chaos is an experiment in cinematographic snapshots featuring a montage of three Syrian women currently living in different parts of the world as they talk about the violence and fear they suffered every day and how the climate of relentless attack still haunts them. Eschewing war footage and blood-soaked photography, Fattahi nonetheless lays bare both their pain and her own, vividly portraying still-raw wounds. The documentary is based on the accounts of the exiles and especially their silences, which powerfully and poetically convey the fact that although they are now far from the field of battle, peace still eludes them. The painful memories linger on, regardless of language or distance.



Casanova Gen

In a dressing room, John Malkovich sheds the costume of Casanova. But here the figure is not that of one of the most emblematic actors of the 20th Century, but rather that of the figure that the history of art has always associated with desire. This basic instinct cuts through this film that is composed of seven episodes, which approach some of its aspects from various angles. Louise Donschen deftly weaves together a tapestry spun from aspects of nature and culture, gender roles, desire, sexuality, body and embodiment. Staged and documentary episodes shot on 16mm film are edited together, united less by the ideas than by the sensations of the image: a young woman's skirt is just as orange as the beak of a zebra finch singing in a cage. White lilies stand at the foot of a statue of the Virgin Mary, red roses in front of the window of a sadomasochist’s studio, where the quiet game of submission in exchange for money occurs. An embrace in a museum, a poem whispered in the ear. An orgasm and a dance.


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