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The other day I found myself embroiled in an awful discussion. No doubt caused by a lack of sleep and the quick brew beer, because it was one of those discussions when we were all on the same side. We were talking about the impossibility of film –or to be more precise, the moving image – being fictionalised. Let’s just say, the intrinsic non-reality of video even though (or above all) if it is a documentary. The fictitious pact established with reality.
And while one got irritated remembering the extremes of Kossakovsky, who went way beyond all sensible limits in the manipulation of his own child, by depriving him of any reflective surface so that when the child was two years he could record his reaction when faced with his own image in the mirror – one just hopes that Svyato made enough money to pay for some good therapy – another got even angrier, banging a drunken fist on the table, dragging out the ultimate original sin: the Lumière brothers and their workers leaving the factory.
An observational shot. So naïf. So free. Spontaneous. “A load of shit! Look, just look. Without mentioning the evident technical choices, just look at it. The first moment, that is really the second, the exit is not clear. Now put the last one. Exactly, cut!” The exit from the factory, with the opening and closing of doors, begins and ends within 46 seconds of tape. What a coincidence. People are leaving on all sides, in a hurry, excellent. Yet nobody walks into a close up? And then, bingo! bingo! You see it. There are strange gestures, changes in direction, one woman tugs on the dress of another -“Hey, it’s this way“- while others who find themselves straggling, accelerate their step.
“There’s no doubt about it. There’re being directed.” And at that point León Siminiani came to mind.
Elías León Siminiani needs no form of presentation, and anyway his prolific and overwhelming career is just two clicks away. The other day he came to Xcentric, organised by CCCB, causing it to burst at the seams; as in 2013 he brings us his first feature film, Mapa that gained a nomination for best documentary in the Goya, the prize for best European documentary in the festival of Seville and the jury’s prize for Best Opera Prima at the REC, all this – at least while I’m writing this- prior to its imminent release.
In Mapa, Siminiani continues to situate himself on the margins of non-fiction and embodies the cliché of the not so young person tired of his job – remember he was in a juvenile television series – where what´s more they fired him and in a flash he decided to backpack across India in search, like the Beatles, of mental clarity. Well, obviously, also to find his first feature film.
Half way between a film, documentary and personal diary, the return trip of Siminiani also begins with a hole under the floor. Even though, this time, it is a vital parable, for the Madrid that he leaves and returns to. Dealing on his travels with major fundamental subjects; passing through labyrinthine reflections upon love and the lack of it, the journey, life, the real and the unreal, personal discovery…and film.
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)