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BERLIN 2016 Forum

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Lily Lane: All about my mother


- BERLIN 2016: Hungarian filmmaker Bence Fliegauf’s latest film is a uterine piece that fuses together different levels of reality to wrap a mother and her son in their own world, time and space

Lily Lane: All about my mother

Anyone who only knows Hungarian filmmaker Bence Fliegauf for Just the Wind [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Bence Fliegauf
film profile
, which investigated the racist massacres of members of the rom community, may be surprised by the world depicted in Lily Lane [+see also:
film profile
, which was presented in the Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival. Nevertheless, the surprise is a pleasant one, judging by the warm welcome that festivalgoers gave to this highly uterine and atmospheric film, moments of which are very bright, whilst others are buried in the darkness of mysterious recollections and frightening stories. 

Although Fliegauf’s filmography is marked by an alternation between “genealogies of a crime”, which are rather conceptual in content but can easily be put into words, and works like this one that are more sensorial and vague, passed through the filter of a suffering conscience, cut off, or at least uneasy, that makes these films hard to describe, her visual style is very recognisable. Right from the start of Lily Lane, we have a handheld camera and the texture that this Hungarian director has made her signature, whilst we hear a mother who we still can’t see tell her ten-year-old son a terrifying story. Right from these first somewhat blurred shots, memory and imagination blend together, becoming impossible to separate. Incidentally, it’s not the viewer that the film addresses itself to, but a buried memory that perhaps resurfaces during the stage of amniotic fusion that precedes birth. Whatever the case, the only two characters we see throughout the film are the mother, with her sweet childlike face, and her little boy, with whom she forms a close bond while they make the most of the warmth and idleness of the summer to explore nature and be adventurous, as if no other world exists beyond their own, free from all constraint, guided entirely by phantasmagoria.

We see the father of the small boy for a few seconds, through exchanges with his mother via Skype, and the film also shows snippets of the mother’s childhood, especially of her father (who lives in a squat), but Fliegauf is not trying to give us an accurate Gestalt, as all that matters is this sunny present visited by parallel worlds, products of conscience more or less anchored in a reality with a blurred outline.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the way in which the director harmoniously unites uterine bliss and nightmarish stories, true to the Bettelheimian interpretation of the function served by frightening figures in children’s stories. Here too, the bond between the child and his mother is complete, as she unravels the bedtime stories for her son that bring together their (potential, alleged) traumas and life force in their shared eternal childhood.

(Translated from French)

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