One of the joys of being a short film programmer is finding those films that deal with your passions. I have a lot of passions (even outside of film!) and it's easy for me to attach to documentaries that deal with them. I found two, surprisingly similar, that moved me beyond anything I had ever imagined. One, Italian; that other was Iranian. Both dealt with things I love - the first food, and second with art in all its forms.
AMÃRE, Italian for 'to love', is about what ssome consider to be the two major expressions of Italian love - cooking and Catholicism, and specifically the traditional methods of both. We're introduced to a traditional bakery making gigantic pizzas and loafs of bread in a traditional Roman oven, and to a grandmother who makes pasta the old-fashioned way by hand, to a group of nuns who live as they have for generations. You'll notice I keep harping on the word 'tradition' and that is the word that best expresses the meaning of this short. We are shown the traditions, come to appreciate them as more than just a word used on Italian restaurant signs. The section on the nun and her music is very powerful, and while it does go a bit outside the realm of the rest of the film, it does bring tradition to the fore, and that is a beautiful thing. Even when she's playing a seriously out-of-tune piano, there's a sensation that this is what has been going on for generations. Amare one of those shorts that is so powerful, not only for the precise and fascinating cinematography, but for the way they deal with the topics. I see a lot of my favorite documentarian, Les Blank, in what Oksana Shumylo has managed here. It stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Garlic as Good as Ten Mothers, and I can't wait to find more from her.
Hesam Dehghani's Five Senses of Art details five traditional Iranian art processes, each mapped to a different human sense. From rosewater making, to traditional Iranian music played on daf and an Iranian form of lute, to a magnificent section on traditional Iranian handicrafts, the shooting of this film was amazing, and it eschewed the use of voice-over or interviews in favor of letting the footage speak for itself, as if addressing the camera would break the spell created through the camerawork and music. This short flows like a river, from one topic to the next, never openly connecting these topics, but acknowledging they exist in the same world. There's no commentary about these being endangered ways of life, about modernity encroaching, a common theme among these kinds of shorts, but the fact that we go from a series of active concerns to a museum, may well speak volumes.
Both these shorts are getting some play around the world at the moment. You can find out more about Amare at https://www.facebook.com/AMAREmovie
and about Fives Senses of Art at http://persianmagicartgroup.com/fivesensesofart.html
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Klaus at Gunpoint
A Film Journal dedicated to all film.A segment of Office Supply Publishing.