Ravishing Creatures on Surreal Yacht
I found out about Lucrecia Martel by chance on a late Sunday evening at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Sometimes the beauty about not going to film school is that you can be surprised every time you discover something great, even though everyone else knows about it. The filmmaker herself, from Buenos Aires Argentina, claims that she is self taught, which made me feel relevant. Her debut film “La Ciénaga” 2001 has received major international recognition, winning awards at Sundance and Berlin, followed by “The Holly Girl” 2004 shown at Cannes where she was also jury member in 2006.
Her 7mn experimental film “Muta” stood out in a program of dark shorts at the 16th Brooklyn Film Festival. For a 10 O’clock screening on a full moon, you can handle some pretty ruff stuff, but the sixty years old woman from the neighborhood sitting next to me, who came by herself with her own ice-cream, said that “it was brutal”. Well, I thought the rest of the program wasn’t uplifting. Not really a fan about conceptual furniture stories (DIY Love Seat) or health threatening visual masturbation (Love Hitch), I liked the New Zealand short “Plural” directed by Dan Inglis. I thought it was unpretentious and the visual development was pleasing, especially after you read what it was supposed to be about.
Muta was a relief amidst these eclectic shorts. Somewhere between haunted and enchanted. We follow a group of creatures, that could be stunning models, birds… or maybe butterflies. But we are never shown their faces, which creates amazing visual tension throughout the piece. The rhythm is tight and curious, and the use of sound is thrilling. We find out with a wink, that men aren’t allowed on this very elegant recreational boat. The art department and costume design was polished, no wonder, since the film was made with funding from “Miu Miu.”
I am usually a snob about artistic integrity, but in Muta, the “product placement” wasn’t distracting. On the contrary, it seemed that the collaboration between the brand and the filmmaker wasn’t just for commercial intent, and they actually refined each other’s identity. I am not sure if “fashion videos” will become a new form of filmmaking–a stylish visual narrative with no dialogues. But in today’s digital world, where independent film is striving to maintain it’s quality and where filmmakers are struggling as ever to find funding, why not pursue such endeavors, if they enable filmmakers to make work they are inspired to do?