Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Saidin Salkic's KONVENT

Here's a text I've written about Australia-based filmmaker and musician Saidin Salkic's extraordinary Konvent. This is a filmmaker to watch...

(Bill Mousoulis has also written eloquently about this film. See:http://www.messandnoise.com/discussions/4096828)

Saidin Salkic’s KONVENT is a medium-length film by a Bosnian filmmaker living in suburban Australia. This is its background. But what actually is it? A man in his home, alone. A man in his own space and time. And this is enough.

To be able to capture a subjective impression of the flow of time and the texture of space is one of cinema’s most specific, if under-used, gifts. If the anecdotal has become cinema’s main subject, it’s perhaps partly because it’s so fiendishly difficult to embrace this most apparently simple capacity of the medium and harness it to the unadorned rendition of a truly personal sense of time passing and space inhabited. Only a few rare filmmakers, including Jean-Claude Rousseau, Chantal Akerman and Rouzbeh Rashidi, have achieved this and, in so doing, have given audiences access to a world that is, in its simplicity, utterly mysterious. They have shared their immediate perception of the details of life, solitary observations which have granted viewers the uncanny privilege of experiencing as another human being, not a vicarious fictional construct but a private individual.

Saidin Salkic is another name to add to this small but priceless list of artists. In KONVENT, he allows us to share his space. Patience is required and rewarded. Narrative exposition is abandoned in favour of a mounting awareness of an ineffable inner intensity created by this man’s silent presence. We see Salkic alone in his house. Night, images of light bulbs. Day, the garden. Salkic shaves. He stares into the camera. We enter his bedroom, he gazes into space. Long takes, the informality of DV images…

It’s not the content of what he’s thinking and feeling that becomes apparent but its emotional residue that permeates the film’s every image in an unusually compelling build up of unspoken discomfort. This discomfort stems from the paradoxical relationship KONVENT establishes with its viewer. On the one hand, the audience couldn’t be closer to Salkic. We are invited into his home, invited to share his loneliness, given access to its articulation of time. The intimacy we come to share with him implies a relationship beyond words and narrative facts. Yet he remains opaque, the silent appeal to the viewer implied by the relationship he sets up with his camera never clarified to the point of allowing the spectator to formulate a response. We don’t know how to reach out. In entering such an acute awareness of another human’s isolation, we become equally aware of ourselves, of our own isolation. In creating such an apparently solipsistic film, Salkic has touched on a universal condition with a rawness that ostensibly ‘universal’ modes of communication can seldom even begin to approach.


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