Festival 2021
Franziska von Stenglin

THE DUST OF MODERN LIFE

Germany / 2021 / 81’
World Premiere

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)

Technical sheet

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

INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTOR

Director

Franziska von Stenglin

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