Hot Docs 2014: Demonstration Review

Demonstration

Demonstration

Special Presentations

A well meaning, but utterly failed experiment to create a “doc ballet,” Demonstration has been culled together from the footage of 32 student filmographers in the Master of Creative Documentary Program at Pompeu Fabra University under the guidance of Russian documentarian Victor Kossakovsky.

On March 29th, 2012, thousands of protestors in Barcelona took to the streets to protest the government’s latest anti-austerity measures and violent skirmishes with local police ensued. The students all took up different vantage points to capture footage.

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Here’s where the film comes apart: instead of being a work of democracy between 32 students it’s painfully clear that one person is directing the film and that one person is terribly unsure if they want to make a crowd sourced doc, an art project, or a treatise on the artificiality of documentary filmmaking. Using mostly just the blaring soundtrack of Leon Minkus’ Don Quixote (which was playing at the local Opera House, and one place in the riot area to remain open) and occasionally exaggerated sound effects, it shows that there’s no authorial intent whatsoever, and it does a disservice to the sometimes exceptionally captured footage.

The soundtrack only ever really aligns well with the images across a far too long 65 minutes (once beautifully with a rebellious young woman in a Guy Fawkes mask that feels like an actual movement piece), and it throws everything it worked for away in the final 20 minutes by focusing largely on a single subject. I wouldn’t fail the whole class for this one, but it should have stayed in class and Kossakovsky is most likely to blame for the sloppiness of tone and form. It’s not a matter of me not “getting it,” but rather thinking it’s a bad idea. Your mileage may well vary. (Andrew Parker)

Screens

Friday, April 25th, Scotiabank 3, 1:30pm

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Saturday, April 26th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, 8:30pm

Sunday, May 4th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3, 8:30pm

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