O. Balahura: Life Span of the Object in Frame

A good advice – go to the trailer of this film which is to be found on the website of the upcoming festival in Kiev, Ukraine DocuDays UA. Click below.

It will give you a fine introduction to a documentary that is not easy accessible but attracts you with its many layers and angles, its beautiful verbal narration, its sincerety, its editing originality – you don’t see many (hybrid) essay films like that any longer. And it will hopefully give you appetite to watch the whole work, which you can do at the festival, if you happen to be there from friday onwards.

… a film about the film not yet shot… is the undertitle of the film and you see a film crew meeting and discussing, you see the actors, including the director, rehearse, saying lines, building up a labyrinthic studio with photos from the last 20-30 years – if I get it right. Photos that are extremely beautiful in their depiction of Life situations. The main photo that the film comes back to again and again is an almost surrealistic one with a woman sleeping in a marketplace, having found shelter on the ground while life goes on around her. Who was she? What has happened to her?

And what happened to us, the artists, the film narrative seems to ask. Through images from Genoa, from a room with a sea view, it is indicated that the man talking (the director?) had a mistress, forgot to phone home to his mother, these scenes are beautifully shot like a painting by Matisse from Nice. The photos and the colour manipulation of some of them bring forward a kind of nature morte feeling, there are discussions about Dante, verbal tributes to Jean-Luc Godard, and (the title) a constant going-back-sequences to Edward Muybridge, the movement of the dog running, the man coming up from his chair, a woman getting in or out of her bed… There are many side stories and there are for sure references that I do not understand, so let me give you the catalogue text from the festival:

”The time of exposure is the life span of an object in frame. In this regard, no photo is just a two-dimensional graphic composition – it always has the third, temporal dimension, the temporal depth. A photo is a time carrier, a time vessel. That means – a vessel of memory… But whose memory?.. Of the Face or the Thing or the Landscape which are still on the photo?.. Of the photographer?.. Having chosen photos as the material of the film and memory as the theme, we inevitably find ourselves in a labyrinth of our own and others’ memories, of our own and others’ time. And in seeking for the escape, we become a part of this labyrinth and the material of our own film.”

Had no real stills from the film, here is a photo of the director, who is in the film.

Ukraine, 2012, 116 mins.



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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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