Saturday, 31 May 2014

REVIEW - AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF AN IRON PICKER (DANIS TANOVIC)


In manufacturing so little, in exerting minimal control over the content of his film, Danis Tanovic has achieved a new, truer style of naturalism than the cinema is accustomed to. It is pessimistic, but only justifiably so, not bleak. It is occupied with plot and action, in that same manner that we human beings are both in our lives and in our taste in art. Tanovic has, possibly unintentionally, constructed a hybrid of documentary and narrative filmmaking, as fiction is enacted in fact. It is the most accurate and relevant affirmation that I can recall of fictional film as a documentary of its actors at work. Its power as polemic is, thus, reduced in traditional terms, since Tanovic can't be seen to stress any agenda here, nor even to stress the absence of one. As its own entity, though, divorced from traditional terms of storytelling in cinema, An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker is a succinct, potent attack on social inequality, racism and state-sponsored means of perpetuating both. This, from an Eastern-European director who has broadly shunned the more esoteric styles adopted by filmmakers from neighbouring nations. One wouldn't expect it, but Tanovic doesn't just attempt it, he conquers this naturalistic approach, refashioning it in the process. He, in fact, draws it even further away from stylised sensationalism, and renders it closer to reality. Even the film's title eschews pretension for plainspokenness; again, succinct and accurate. There's no arguing with An Episode's brief runtime (75 minutes) - this would be a film of equal magnitude at half the length or double it. Tanovic's vision is honest and heartfelt, without ever having to assert itself as either. Succinct, potent, accurate, it speaks for itself.