TIFF 2013: Manakamana Review



Directors: Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez

The latest from the Sensory Ethnography Laboratory at Harvard is less sensory and less ethnographic than its recent Leviathan. Rather, this collection of static long takes that ride cable to and from the Nepalese, mountaintop Hindu temple that gives the film its name plays out as a series of boxed-in vignettes. Rope-like, the directors disguise cuts when the frame enters a dark area, and angles subtly change to tilt up or down or even to move to the opposite seat, creating mild changes then extrapolated by the conversations and clothing of the passengers.


Young Nepalese metalheads take selfies as they discuss that night’s gig; two women rush to eat ice cream bars that melt in real time in the humid air; and a tribe of goats bleats with confused terror with every shake as a cargo car shudders passing over a tower. These almost whimsical touches trade specificity for a broad sense of shared experience, details only falling into place gradually, as in the slow off-screen mapping of the mountain as passengers repeatedly point off-screen to the same trails, rivers and villages. The space these non-professional actors create around the rigidly constrained frame is therefore less a work of social observation than a treatise on the expansive possibilities of acting and how even an untrained “performer” can reach out beyond the confines of an image to conjure something larger. (Jake Cole)


Friday, September 6th, 9:45pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Sunday, September 8th, 9:00am, Jackman Hall (AGO)

Sunday, September 15th, 2:00pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 4


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