Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Time Standing Still

Jardin des deux rives/Garden on both Riverbanks (2013) - El Kamel
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"Here is present without time...", starts the poem by Mahmoud Darwich, first read softly in Arabic, then in French over the images of shuttered doors and bricked up windows of row houses. It is the industrial wasteland known as Le quartier de l'Union in northern France. Once the capital of textile industry, now a ghost town, all the former glory faded and forgotten, surviving only by few old residents who lament about the days in voice overs.

Amel El Kamel, a filmmaker with animation background, uses high resolution, short interval looped images to tell the story of town where time stands still, where life is stagnant as if stuck in limbo: a twilight zone town where things are not quite still but looped in purgatory. As the camera slowly zooms out and pans, scanning over water and artful graffiti, her contemplation of time and decay of human existence, with the help of Darwich's poetry, is elegant in both content and form. The film filled my morning with peace and tranquility.