Dazzled by the light and the "snow"
by Françoise Deriaz
- With a beautiful fairytale of love, ballasted by hip-hop and cocaine, Samir surprises and challenges, in depicting the attraction of superficiality and the scorched earth of drug-taking
Once before, in Immer & ewig (1991), Samir explored a great turbulent love story. Fifteen years on, with Snow White [+see also:
interview: Carlos Leal
film profile], realism dislodges fantasy, the attraction of artificial paradise supplants that of a Paradise, but Love triumphs. The love story concerns Paco (Carlos Leal), son of an immigrant and very sure of his principals, singer in a fashionable hip-hop group, and Nico (Julie Fournier), disorientated rich girl. Past master in the art of layered images, Samir creates, with quick brushstrokes, a humorous portrait of a developing relationship. This affair, born out of love at first sight, unravels, however, in a highly surrealist atmosphere : when she goes to watch Paco in concert for the first time and their eyes meet, the force of attraction is so overwhelming that Nico flies, quite literally, onto the stage to fall into his arms. Though Samir likes to swing suddenly towards the fairy-tale world, he has, in fact, used it with moderation in Snow White. The film’s essence is to be found in realism, signalling the intention of the director – who does not hide a certain fascination in doing so – of scrutinising Nico’s descent into Hell. This young girl, who doesn’t know what to do with her life, takes drugs. And Paco does not like that one little bit. Which will have the final say, passion for love, passion for music or passion for cocaine? Samir’s choice is clear but these characters will tear one other apart and bruise themselves before they find out for themselves.
Coming into the film world through video, Samir is no new arrival in the Swiss cinema arena. Added to his humanist convictions, his curiosity and his abundant imagination have led him to look at very different subject matters and to make a piece of fiction that is as passionate as it is heterogeneous. Hardly surprising since he instantly imposed himself with his first feature, Morlove – Eine Ode für Heisenberg (1986), a hilarious patchwork, a layered blend of comic book and noir thriller. Of the dozen or so films the director has made, we discover a very contrasting output, with Filou (1988), chronicle of a Zurich working-class neighbourhood embellished by a memorable moment when it is raining TV sets, Babylon 2 (1993), a documentary about second generation immigrants breaking radically from their formal traditions, and also Forget Baghdad (2002), a searching exploration of the Jewish-Arab-Israeli identity. Instinctively opposed to any straitjacket, Samir is not someone who works as a hermit. His uncontrolled desire for fantasy brought him to concoct a crazy fable in Esperanto, La Eta Knabino (1997). Not afraid to allow himself to be guided by emotion, he reacted to the first American bombardment of Baghdad, his native town, by making a small film of exceptional power, (It was) just a job. He filmed his family as they sat in front of the TV, in Zurich, watching the images of the "surgical strikes" as seen from above...