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2013年4月3日 星期三

A Fold in my Blanket (Chemi sabnis naketsi) (岩石的摺痕)

The HKIFF ended, as it began for me, happily. My 21st and last film A Fold in my Blanket (Chemi sabnis naketsi) (2013) comes from East Europe: the former USSR state of Georgia from a new scriptwriter- director Zaza Rusadze.

As the film starts, we see from the perspective of somewhere at the bottom of a dark cavern the light at the vagina-like opening above and we hear the grating sound of someone's shoes trying to find a foothold to get down and also the clear sound of water dripping drop by drop into an underground pool from the roof of the cavern. From time to time, the dark figure climbing down would click on his cigarette lighter when we get a glimpse of his face and the uneven rock face of the cavern.Next we see a long corridor with a row of identical doors which keep opening and closing as people in suit and tie emerge and walk past each other, unseeing, with a file under their arm with almost identical serious, blank and emotionless expressions on their faces. We see the young man entering a room attending an interview, not knowing what to expect and being told by a passing secretary that he could not enter the room just like that. After having seen his file, the young man Dimitrij (Tornike Bziava) who had dug out a suit and tie which he wore at a  London wedding expressly for the interview, was offered a position by a man dressed in a black lawyer's or judge's gown and was told to come to work the following day. He did. His job is make photocopies and then to serve court documents. We see him sitting on a chair next to an old fashioned copier waiting for one page after another of the photocopied document to tumble out slowly to the squeaky sound of its worn out mechanical delivery system with a bored expression on his face. We are next shown an old man delivering the national flags to various old ladies that he knows about in various apartments, one of which is that of Dimitrij's relative's house, people who hold tiny boring family party where they talk about old times, eat stale cake and listen to Italian opera singing. In the party are a doctor, a lawyer and some old ladies one of whom, his aunt, is suffering from Alzheimer and would tell stories about how one time long ago, she went on a trip to the countryside together with Dimitrij and a boy called Andrej,  with whom he was then sitting in a different part of the house, away from the old folks, trying to interest him in his favourite pastime--rock climbing but the others laughed at her saying that she was always making up stories but she retorted that even if so, her stories are less boring than their lives. In any event, we see Andrej (Tornike Gogrichiani ) agreeing reluctantly to give it a try. When Dimitrij went home, we see him studying an old photograph showing him with Andrej in the company of his aunt, intrigued and also in a different scene, her aunt flipping over an old photo album to ascertain whether or not she misremembered. Then we see the pair of young men rock climbing and how Dimitri showed Andrej his favourite cave at the bottom of which they found a wooden door. We learn later that Andjej was a drunk given to beating up people when he had too much and that he would soon have to face a murder trial. Dimitri was asked to be a witness for Andrej's family and asked if he could do the witness statement with Andrej and was told by his superior that he could not.  We are also shown Dimitrij visiting his aunt in hospital for the removal of a tumor. Amongst the tissue removed from her brain was a diamond which she was always accusing one of his relatives of having stolen from her. She asked the doctor who was at the party whether it was possible to put that diamond back into her brain !

It was a very beautifully made film: the pace is slow, the composition of the pictures very meticulously thought out, like painting with special attention to the effect of light and contrast, full of suggestive symbols: old fashioned car running on the road, the old flag promoter being beaten up by a drunken young man, Dimitri going up the craggy rock one hand grip and one foot hold at a time, going down a mysterious cave with a door at the bottom, the bear in the studio for taking a picture for his identity photo for his job, the diamond being found amongst the unwanted brain tissue of Dimitri's Alzheimer suffering aunt, court documents being coughed out from an outdated photocopier machine, two young men walking in the forest and climbing mountains etc away from the dull and monotonous lives of the older folks.  Perhaps the folds of the ancient limestone formed at the bottom of the sea is another symbol of how our past is folded into our present? The dysfunctioning of human relations in a small contemporary Georgian town is emphasized sonically by the sputtering of its outdated motors and worn out photocopier and the absence of any meaningful conversation which relates to the present at the boring family party. But whenever Dimitrij is out in the countryside, we hear the sound of some contemporary music either pop or classical and when Dimitrij is in the cave, we hear by contrast, the crystal clear sound of water dripping down from the roof,  evoking images of the purity of Nature. The obviously surrealistic images are linked together not by the conventional linear prose logic of cause and effect but poetically, by parallel themes, motifs and variations so that the boundaries between everyday social reality and the reality of the psyche are blurred as the film narrative unfolds with the life of Dimitrij as its focal point. Dimitrij is a stranger, an outsider, having returned from abroad: he obviously finds it difficult to fit into the mundane and colorless social and professional life in Georgia, amongst old men and women, with old habits and old traditions. What is significant is that we don't see him going out with any girl. He seems unable to relate to the old folks, except to his aunt: he appears the only one who visits her.  The film leaves us pondering. There are a lot of unanswered questions. Is Dimitri gay? Is he a symbol of the new Georgia fumbling to discover itself ? At one point, he was asked by the photographer taking his photo for his job application his name and he seemed confused! The film presents the problems but does not provide any answers. But it's no part of the job of an artist to provide easy ready-made answers. If that is what Rusadze sets out to do, he seems to have succeeded admirably When I talked to the director after the movie, he appeared so delighted at our conversations that he shook my hands vigorously and told me how he felt very encouraged and wished he had an audience like me for his next film which he said would be about ski-ing. I shall certainly go and see that if I got the chance.