The direct cinema or call it the observational is still alive and strong. I thought about that yesterday here in Kolin in Czech Republic, where director and editor Erez Laufer showed the film of Laura Poitras from 2006, ”My Country, My Country”, edited by the director and Laufer.
Laura Poitras was 8 months in Iraq and she was here, there and everywhere with her small camera. She had access to the American army, to the security people who were there in connection with the elections, she was up North with the Kurds and first and foremost she got close to the charismatic dr. Riyadh, a political candidate for the Iraqi Islamic Party, and the main character of the film.
The director’s presence and sense of situations is second-to-none. Let me just mention two scenes out of many that will stay in my mind: A woman sits in her appartment searching for a fly that is disturbing her. She is totally concentrated on this mission while we as viewers hear the sound of the city being hit by strong bombardments… A pure magic moment, says so much,,, as does the next example also where she catches a moment of Americana in a hall where an officer talks to Iraqi security people. ”We are gonna run this show, you will be on television all over the world…”, he says. ”Show”, one of the men silently remarks, ”ok, this is real life”, the American superior replies, ”yes, it is a bit different than a show”, the man ends up commenting silently. Voila, a small dialogue, that also says so much without anyone explaining to us anything. Think, please, and this is the quality of this film that the filmmakers invite us to do so. Observational documentary, this is ”being there” as Richard Leacock so often has put it.
(The film has previously been reviewed on filmkommentaren.dk by one of the Zelig film school students, Georg Bocher.)