Opening tomorrow, Tuesday, February 19 and running through Sunday, February 24, Punto de Vista: The International Documentary Film Festival of Navarra holds its eighth edition in Pamplona, Spain. Championing innovation and risk-taking, the festival tends to focus on more formally inventive or rigorous projects, including hybrids, rather than strictly social issue-oriented documentaries. I’ve never attended, but am intrigued by their eclectic programming, and by their commitment to screen some work that might not typically be made at most non-fiction events, such as the work in their avant-garde section, The Central Region.
The festival opens with a more familiar film, SONGS (AS CANÇÕES), in which Brazilians reflect on their favorite songs, a recent project by Brazilian doc master Eduardo Coutinho, one of the two special honorees receiving a retrospective. The closing night spotlights emerging talent, presenting the debut film of the winner of the fest’s annual Heterodocsies X Films Project, Jorge Tur, DIME QUIÉN ERA SANCHICORROTA (pictured), which explores the impossibility of capturing the past with a humorous look at a legendary fifteenth century Robin Hood.
Eleven feature-length films make up Punto de Vista’s Official Section, the competition. Among these, I’m most curious about Virginia García del Pino’s THE JURY, which trains its cameras on the jury members of a murder trial; He Yuan’s APUDA, an observational study of a farmer and his elderly father, ethnic minorities in China; Kevin Jerome Everson’s THE ISLAND OF ST MATTHEWS (pictured), a consideration of the loss of family history, inspired by family photographs lost in a 1973 flood; and Go Shibita’s GUI: ALUEO: S, a peculiar project described as “shooting a film as if playing in a band.”
The aforementioned Central Region section includes a number of unusual-sounding but intriguing projects, including: Rubén García López’s VALPARAISO 2011. OBSERVACIONES DE UN TURISTA, a cell-phone camera meta-document of the largest social protest in Chilean history in May 2011; Pablo Chavarría Gutiérrez’s TAPETUM LUCIDUM (pictured), a meditation on the connection between a man and his animals; Pedro González Rubio’s INORI, a look at the daily lives of an aging Japanese mountain town; and James N Kienitz Wilkins’ PUBLIC HEARING, a hybrid performance of the transcript of a town meeting, which I really need to find a way to watch soon.
Outside of these two sections, the festival holds numerous Special Sessions highlighting specific filmmakers, including Alan Berliner, Victor Iriarte, and this year’s jurors, JP Sniadecki, Christian Von Borries, and Bill Brown. Other Special Sessions include Oskar Alegria, whose EMAK BAKIA BAITA screens here, a search for the house where Man Ray shot his first film; and a work-in-progress screening of Ben Russell and Ben Rivers’ first collaboration, A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS (pictured), a three-part film in which the same character explores spirituality in a secular world in three different settings.
Works-in-progress are the focus of a new section, Processes, that Punto de Vista introduces this year. Four projects by Spanish filmmakers will be presented, exploring diverse topics ranging from the Angolan civil war (Raul de la Fuente and Damián Nenow’s animated ANOTHER DAYOF LIFE (pictured)) to cultural exchanges between Spanish druids and Amazonian shaman (Patxi Uriz y Axel O´Mill’s DRUIDAS Y CHAMANES).
Finally, the festival presents a significant number of retrospective screenings. The Heterodocsies – Rewind section aims to rediscover Spain’s forgotten film history, presenting three films/television programs from the 1970s. Two filmmakers receive tributes: the previously noted Eduardo Coutinho, whose five film series includes the recently restored CABRA MARCADO PARA MORRER (pictured), a little-seen look at a peasant field worker organizer, a project which was interrupted for nearly two decades by the military coup; and German director Thomas Heise, who screens two new films, CONSEQUENCE, a portrait of an economy-driven crematorium; and CONDITION, a meditation on the Pope’s visit to Germany to promote a rediscovery of Catholicism; in addition to seven of his older films.