The opening of film festivals is something that veterans like me normally avoid because of boring official speeches and/or a moderator trying to be funny and/or blonds or brunettes in high heels being there for their looks, knowing nothing about what the film festival is there for.
In Leipzig it is different because of the ambition of the festival director to make a long and reflective and personal statement. Last year Claas Danielsen attacked television for their poor programming and funding of the creative/artistic documentary and this year he had chosen a more soft approach asking the audience “to see and hear with the heart” – and act. The emotional speech was given with passion, commitment and point of view. He referred to strong films in the programme and the debate they raise – Danish Armadillo and Into Eternity were the ones mentioned. Names coming up were Sarkozy and Gert Wilders… in connection with the profiling of the festival programme that has a lot of political films as well as films touching upon the xenophobia of today´s Europe.
An opening night that continued in an atmosphere of seriousness and dignity by the showing of Patricio Guzman´s masterpiece Nostalgia for the Light (PHOTO). Like Joris Ivens did in China with his last film, L´Histoire du Vent, where he placed himself in the open land desert, Guzman goes to Atacama desert in his native country to visit the astronomical observatories, to examine the light with the aim to make an essay on the past and on memories. An intelligent reflection, total beauty in camerawork and touching when he meets women, who look for the remains of the dear ones, killed an buried during and by the Pinochet regime. A woman tells how she found the foot of her brother, the foot with the sock, and his teeth forming a smile that she remembered.