Saturday, January 10, 2009

Beton/Ligne de vie

Beton and Ligne de Vie might be as far as possible in their approach, both technical and narrative, but both strike home the point: the futility of war, the cruel subjugation, which makes soldiers worse than machines–indifferent perpetrators or gluttonous ravishers of violence.

The drill for the soldiers, stationed at the Israel-Palestine border assumedly, could range from playing the same dice games to boiling the same tea at the same afternoon time, to the same parade being called for. What they didn’t bargain for was the appearance of a free spirit: a stark black kite that appears beyond the beton (the concrete wall), and is unfazed by everything that is hurled against it, be it a stone or thunderous cannon shots. Though the short film by Ariel Belinco and Michael Faust is heavy in metaphors, it does not fall in its own trap of political consciousness–the water-colorish images save the viewer from indifference, and he remains awake to the message carried in the film. The kite persists, cannons keep going on, and the soldiers return to their monotony: playing dice games. After all, who cares? One day the kite will fall, the beton might be down for the invader might be on both the sides, and the victor might then fall in the indifference of smug content: but maybe it isn’t that simple, since the kite does not fly of its own accord, there must be someone to fly the kite! Maybe when the kite will fall, another kite would already have come up in the sky, even if the beton is no more.

Ligne de Vie is one of the most striking films on atrocities committed in a POW camp, especially in a concentration camp. It’s a film about who flies the kite: a prisoner who gives voice to other prisoners by drawing their daily life scenes, by drawing impossible dreams, who does not desist when even his hands are cut off. They didn’t even sleep since dreaming was fatal, they competed for fastest wheel-barrowing of stones so that at least they can prove they are alive, but yet they required that spark to keep their souls alive, their indifference to suffering away: and the man who was engraving the ligne de vie(lifeline) brought that. A striking film by Serge Avedikian in pencil strokes, the film won the Best Animation and Experimental Film award at the Yerevan International Film Festival in 2004.