Venice 2022: We evaluate the documentary on Pope Francis and the drama inspired by the legend of Medea
Zanami is another day on Lido, full of cinematic emotions. This time, Adam Crook and Wojciech To report on what they saw at the Venice Festival. Raven reviews Gianfranco Rosi’s latest documentary, In viaggio. The painting is dedicated to the pontificate of Pope Francis. In turn, Wojciech Tu shares his opinion on the drama “Saint Omer”. Its author is Alice Diop, master of the French language documentary.


Hajj’s voice. Review of the movie “In viaggio” monastery Gianfranco Rosi

Gianfranco Rosiego can safely be called one of the most important contemporary documentary filmmakers in the world. Nine years ago, “Halo Roman” was the first non-fiction In history, she won the Venice Festival. Three years later, the director won the Golden Bear in Berlin for the film “Fuocoammare. Fire at Sea” – a picture of the inhabitants of Lampedusa in the era of the so-called migration crisis, in which the island became one of the centers and (also thanks to Rose) a symbol. The Italian documentary filmmaker was never interested in trifles: in his last film he once again tackled important topics, but this time also an important character – and most importantly for Catholics.

In “In viaggio” she tends to recount the nine years of Pope Francis’ pontificate during his travels. The first of 2013 was not meaningless, as the target chose Lampedusa, who was close to Rosa – thus reaching out to those who loved the threat and giving the world a sign of the appropriate attitude towards those who seek asylum. . Since then – as the film proves – his choices have always been meaningful, often giving great support to hopeless people: in prisons or villages in the countries of the so-called Third World. The travel process itself is highly photogenic, but also highly exploited by the media. This is why Rosie sometimes tries to bite him obliquely, focusing on the journalists working on the papal plane plate or showing how the wind blows his hat on the flight stairs or the collar covering his head while driving Papa’s Mobile.

However, it’s neither a comedy nor a travel movie – Francesc’s action works great as a composition principle, but the content is deeper. Rosie carefully listens to Bergoglio’s voice (detailed in four languages) and tries to extract the most important messages from it. The question is more important to him or to himself? Of course: the latter, which is why “In viaggio” is not a religious movie, if anything – more political or social. The director’s attitude — believer or not — is certainly warm toward the pope, and when Francis recommends leaving abstract issues to religious scholars and dealing with helping others, Rosie draws a lesson from it.

Instead of painting a critical picture, engaging in polemics and apocrypha, he extracts from his speeches what seems important, noble and new to him. Thus, it shows the changes Bergoglio made in the Church, at least in the discursive and symbolic sphere. Selected discourses primarily repeat critiques of capitalism and colonialism, awareness of global warming and climate inequality, as well as the shift toward disadvantaged societies. The snapshots of the Pope’s visit to Chilean prisoners, Brazilian favelas or African villages are fascinating. As well as Muslims, because openness to other religions is another topic that will be repeated in the film. The issue that also had to come up was the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church. At first, Francis defended one of the Chilean cardinals, but later rejected them all. In the film, he says that he understood the pain his words could inflict on victims of abuse.

You can find the full review of “In viaggio” by Adam Kruk on movie card.


Black Tide. Review of the movie “Saint Omar” dir. Alice Diop

The Medea legend is deeply rooted in European culture and continues to fascinate successive generations of artists. The tragic story of Agates’ daughter, who is in love with Jason, who is abandoned and sentenced to exile by her hero, and who murders her children, raises very difficult moral questions and prevents the reckless evaluation of the heroine. In the film version, they tried to interpret the old story, among others Pier Paolo Pasolini and Lars von Trier, and they are now joined by Alice Diop, a talented documentary filmmaker of Senegalese origin. While watching “Saint Omer” it’s hard to believe we’re dealing with her first feature film. The author’s film, raised in France, contrasts with his formal discipline and uncompromising attitude, and features an unorthodox approach to the format of court drama. Diop also fascinates with his amazing sense of touching the darkest and most severe states of the human psyche and problems that transcend known moral boundaries.

Most of Saint Omer’s work takes place in a courtroom in Title City. We get there with Rama (Kaiji Kagami), a young black writer taking part in the famous trial of Lawrence Kola (Guslaji Malanga) – a Senegalese woman accused of causing the death of a 15-month-old baby. The mother deliberately left the child on the beach to be swept away by the sea waves. He now faces a French court that does not accept explanations for the immigrant’s curse. The documents and data collected by the investigators do not match everything the accused heroine says. Kola’s testimony is complemented by statements from her older partner, Luke, who is a mother, college promoter, and journalist who knows the case. The operation, which was widely commented on in the press, will leave a clear imprint on Rama, who is waiting for a child and will lead to a clash between the text of the law and ancient beliefs.

On paper, Diop is a courtroom drama, but I assure you it has little to do with the classic rules of the genre. The director puts our patience and concentration to the test with long, steady shots and camera suspensions on the silhouettes of the speaking characters. We follow the back-to-back testimony of Lawrence and her entourage in real time, almost tangibly feeling the dense, stifling atmosphere of the courtroom. At times, “Saint Omer” rubs in with a raw, semi-documentary record, but this non-standard strategy sharpens the screen experience and strips it of dramatic falsehood. Diop doesn’t resort to artificially sharpening disagreements, manipulating our feelings or hitting sequences with poignant speeches by lawyers. He rightly believes that the weight of what is being done and the hyper-realistic representation are enough to reach our most sensitive emotional strings. At the same time, he’s impartial—allowing us to listen to Lawrence’s devastating confessions without interrupting or commenting on her.

The history of the kola – a modern incarnation of the media – reflects the effects of an identity crisis, the destructive effect of loneliness, and the involvement in cultural traps. Years ago, the accused heroine with her parents emigrated to Paris and, despite many obstacles, found an alternative to a home there. However, she cut herself off from her roots, and each time she returned to her homeland, she felt more alienation, more strangers, and more lack of belonging. In Senegal, she was treated almost like a well-educated white French woman, because she did not know the local Wolof language and was distinguished by her knowledge acquired abroad. In turn, new views spread to her on the Seine – she tried to earn a PhD in Philosophy against the wishes of her parents and to become part of the academic world. Growing conflict with her father and mother complicated her financial situation, but Luke appeared on the horizon, an elderly man who was ready to support her in fulfilling her dreams and taking care of her. An unexpected feeling develops between Lawrence and Luke, but the relationship soon turns into a crisis. The psychological state of the heroine began to deteriorate and the girl broke up with the immediate environment. She spent all the days in the sculptor partner’s studio, where she fell into a severe depression. A fatal period in the immigrant’s life has passed due to the birth of her daughter Elsie, but the lack of categorical support from Luca and his unresolved relationship with his wife made her think again. According to Lawrence, her relatives in Senegal insulted her, and therefore, realizing the dire consequences, the woman decided to abandon the child on the beach, to be taken by the sea.

The full review of “Saint Omer” can be found by Wojciech Tua on movie card.

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