Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Manakamana (2013) - Spray, Velez
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Havard Sensory Ethnography Lab, responsible for Sweetgrass and Leviathan, strikes again with Pacho Velez and Stephanie Spray's Manakamana, a film that leaves you in a metaphysical haze. The temple of the Goddess Manakamana is a coveted Hindu pilgrimage site that can be reached by 8 1/2 minutes of jarring cable car ride. With the film camera firmly placed in the center seat of the cable car, it records pilgrims' ascension/descension uncut. It's a totally unique experience: some pilgrims talk during the ride and some don't. As they admire the lush green forest below, the cable car moves in breakneck speed. The subjects are mostly stationary, perfectly framed by the car's window but the background keeps moving, giving it an otherworldly quality, contrasting with their chit-chats which are decidedly earthbound. The film's so simple in its concept yet so profound. Thoroughly absorbing, but my favorite ride is two old Indian ladies eating ice cream bars, laughing all the way down.

Ever since I missed it at NYFF last year, and again at Art of the Real series, for me, this film has been the most anticipated and it didn't disappoint!

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