THE DUST OF MODERN LIFE
Franziska von Stenglin
Pinned against a bright blue sky, loudspeakers blare out European news and
adverts extolling the benefits of consumer goods from the modern world. On
the ground, the Sedang tribe lives peacefully and frugally in the middle of
Vietnam on the edge of the jungle. Franziska von Stenglin uses an approach
of scrupulous observation reminiscent of the ethnographical documentary
tradition. She attentively records the age-old routines, the everyday way of
life, the moments of domestic and collective pleasure and the scouting trips.
The Dust of Modern Life dramatises this simple lifestyle, contrasting it with
the consumer arguments that regularly dominate the audio field, evoking the
off-screen threat of a different system. Unexpectedly, a woman’s high-pitched
voice disrupts the apparent documentary order to sing of resisting the invader
during the Vietnam War, while on screen, archival footage shows the making of
traps intended for the enemy, connecting the issue of transferring skills with the
question of resistance. The Dust of Modern Life adeptly illustrates how traditions
are being undermined – traditions that are inextricably linked to protecting the
ecosystems that destructive economic development is gradually killing. Liem, the
main character, still makes these traps to hunt wild animals, teaching his son to
make them too so that the tradition of the annual retreat in the jungle survives.
As Liem and his friends venture further into the luxuriant vegetation, the film
undergoes a metamorphosis. Focusing her attention on the wild variations of the
jungle whose beauty is exalted by the grain of the film-roll, von Stenglin sets her
mysterious magic against the picturesque backdrop, reminiscent of Apichatpong
Weerasethakul’s work. Sensuous vegetation and intoxicating sound go hand-inhand
with the harsh physical toil of subsistence, fusing in a nocturnal grand finale
where the jungle and the men beat with one heart, cleansed at last from the dust
of modern life. (Claire Lasolle)
Original Version : Sedang, Vietnamese.
Subtitles : German, English, French.
Script : Franziska von Stenglin.
Photography : Lucie Baudinaud.
Editing : Marylou Vergez, Zuniel, Kim.
Music : Thomas Höhl.
Sound : Christian Wittmoser.
Casting : A Liem, A Dun, A Sang, A Giáo, Y Suốt, A Quang, A Kiên, A Dum.
Production : Franziska von Stenglin, Lucas Tothe (Punchline Cinéma).
Filmography : I’m A Stranger Here Myself, 2015
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HA UMA PROFETA NA OLAIAS, TENHAM CUIDADO !