Talking faces. Normally you associate this stylistical element to journalistic programmes on television. And not to creative documentaries. The Israeli documentary, “To See if I’m Smiling” by Tamar Yaron, builds its whole narrative on talking faces. Young women who have served in IDF, the Israeli army, on the West Bank, look back on incidents of death and violence in which they have taken part. Interrupted by mostly home video material from the “happy” days in the army. Out comes a shocking documentary so well edited that you are nailed to the screen.
As you are with another masterpiece by another great documentarian from the UK, Molly Dineen. I have for years used her “Heart of the Angel” (1989) from the tube in London, whenever the talk was about bringing in several layers to your story. Now, almost 20 years later, she makes “The Lie of the Land”, a report from the British countryside where the farmers have their healthy mostly male animals shot because they are without any value on the market. This is the starting point for a human tragedy for people who have built their life on breeding animals, and who so far have been able to live from that. Molly Dineen is behind the camera constantly asking questions to the people whose confidence she has gained and she does so with all that curiosity, interest and yes compassion that a documentary director should have.
Wow, it’s a festival with strong stories I thought after another long day at the videothèque.
Still: To See if I’m Smiling by Tamar Yaron