Fillmofil.ba proudly represents the works of young critics done in program Talents Sarajevo of 25th Sarajevo Film Festival
Written by: Călin Boto
The domestic routine of a woman demasks an intruder. While cleaning her living room, we see her wiping the very own screen of the camera that allows the public to watch. A point-of-view shot that turns out to be the PoV from a portrait of what soon turns out to be the deceased husband of the woman who is watching her perform her daily chores. Writing-directing duo Urška Djukić (Slovenia) and Gabriel Tzafka (Greece) take this unusual perspective as the starting point for their short THE RIGHT ONE, one of the five films in the SEE FACTORY: SARAJEVO MON AMOUR (2019) omnibus. Their short comedy is wrapped in several layers of cinematic experiments, thus putting together a rich discourse about cinematic time, gazes, and formats.
A meeting between the widow (Mirjana Karanović) and the new girlfriend (Doroteja Nadrah) of her son (Muhamed Hadžović) takes place. He is a policeman and all the appearances suggest a close mother-and-son relationship. What follows is a comical depiction of an already classic narrative structure, namely the dinner meeting which goes wrong. The mother is a pious Christian conservative who wishes all the best for her son. His son’s girlfriend is strikingly nonconforming in the mother’s eyes – a cultural journalist, always on the go, reluctant to the idea of settling down, etc. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the mother hits below all the belts in this room. Including hers – while trying to scare away the young woman, she invokes her husband as a domestic abuser. On top of that, normalization of domestic abuse is in the air.
Much lay behind the well-intentioned mother and the laughter she provokes. One could say that THE RIGHT ONE is zooming out of the Sarajevo-based narratives to get a bigger picture. By its self-reflective means, the duo’s film is a properly thought-provoking center of the omnibus, continuously shifting our attention from content to form and vice versa. To begin with, the point-of-view shot raises questions. Since the audience is sharing the gaze with the deceased husband, there is the feeling that it was meant to be a male gaze. But then the Chantal Akerman problem-solvers get in.
I found many reminiscences of Akerman’s legacy in the collaboration between Tzafka and Djukić. The Belgian film director, an iconic feminist (known for disliking labels) and a milestone slow cinema, is especially relevant for discussing THE RIGHT ONE. Here we have the slow one-shot action, very similar to what Akerman did in JEANNE DIELMAN, 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES (1975). Her long shots weren’t only slow cinema at its best but an antidote to the male gaze(s) too. By incorporating a woman’s body and allowing the audience to spend so much time with it, fetishism, tendencies to objectify, and sexual curiosity were gone.
Not that THE RIGHT ONE features “provocative” depictions of the female body as JEANNE DIELMAN, but it feels like the film itself contains a silent dialogue of representing techniques. The final such technique is the ever-reducing screen which adjusts itself to the portrait format. Besides being a carefully directed piece of filmmaking, THE RIGHT ONE strikes when we find the lucidity behind it. Eyes must be peeled because Djukić and Tzafka’s short is much more about medium and media than about Sarajevo and its Christian community.