Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kinda like being there: Tribeca day ?? Hunters and the Hunted in PRESERVATION

Naveen Chaubal, one of the filmmakers of Tomorrow We Disappear 
The days are becoming a blur with a return to the day job and some quick evening excursions to the festival. There was a break in there somewhere too. I had one film planned, Preservation, a fitting note to end my run of public screenings on as it was among the first films I had my sights set on. I always look to the Midnight Movie selections for initial inspiration, and suspense thrillers are my go-to type of film. The director was not able to attend the screening, nor anyone else involved in the production; too bad because questions came quick and easy about the volatile film. I'll make a point of trying to get some questions and answers going via email or telephone.

On the way out of the screening, I noticed another film had just ended and a lively gathering was taking place between directors, audience members and artists. The presence of beautiful metallically colored prints and chiseled wood dolls made it evident that Tomorrow We Disappear was the film that had played. This documentary was a favorite of mine (I said more about it here), bringing to life an absolutely unique setting like something out of a fairy tale, where traditional artists weave an every day magic. It is an extremely topical and balanced film, showing how this community in India called the Kathputli Colony is on the verge of being eradicated by a new development's construction, and presenting  points of view both for and against. I briefly spoke to cinematographer and coproducer Naveen Chaubal (pictured above) about the how amazingly up to date the production is, which includes footage as recent as a few months ago. More protests (there was a stark image of an impossible march of varied figures along a busy highway) are apparently being organized and bringing attention to the According to Chauba, the film is still in a state of flux, with the possibility of more footage being added to it. As a result, construction of a new development on top of the Kathputli has not yet begun.

PRESERVATION is an impressively abrasive suspense film. A married couple and the husband's brother head to a nature preserve in its off season to hunt. As relationships unravel, the three are caught off guard by a nasty threat that has both protagonists and antagonists taking on the role of hunted and hunter. From the beginning of the film, I was taken with its camera work. As a truck bounces along toward the canp grounds we see the brothers from over their shoulder, giving an uneasy suggestion of them being targets and also obscuring the view of what lies directly ahead.

I did have some problems with the production. At 88 minutes, the proceedings do feel a bit rushed with some dramatic moments not feeling as though they were sufficiently built to. And there are shifts that leave the beginning and end feeling disconnected from one another. However, one can't complain about the film dragging and there are a lot of innovations worth noting. A truly dreadful villain has been conceived of, whose minimalistic presentation creates an unadulterated discomfort. There is also a sense of unease created around those being hunted, whoever it may be, at any given time. Music is also filled with a shimmering spaciousness (an interesting choice of working with electronic Helsinki duo The Gentlemen Losers) at times, while an original score evokes a Reznor-ian tension of suspended builds. More will be written about this Midnight Movie entry soon.

I also had an interest in attending this first time feature of Tribeca, Free For All Friday, where all tickets were free. I wanted to see how attendance would be affected when issues of cost were eliminated, making the intensity of passion about movies perhaps a stronger factor. I was unable to get to the theater on time to take in much of the scene, but can say that the Bowtie Cinemas was bustling with activity considering the late hour of the screening.


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