Bitomsky covers the Lido in dust
by Gabriele Barcaro
The most atypical documentary of Venice Film Festival has just been presented on the Lido : Staub, by German director Hartmut Bitomsky, is a complete departure from traditional genres in non-fiction, for non-fiction (even in Venice) usually manifests itself in the form of biographies and ensemble films.
The challenge, here, is to explore the infinitely big (war, pollution, economy) through the infinitely small. With its 0.1 millimeter diameter specks, dust stands at the limit of what can be seen with the naked eye. In Staub, dust is the main protagonist and an exceptional guide through the contradictions of our time, although Bitomsky first makes a point of reminding us that a movie, just like dust, is made of grains, and therefore each film is like "a resplendent dust that shines in the dark of the theatre".
Hartmut Bitomsky's talent is obvious in the convolutions of the camera movements, the accuracy of the framing, and the subtle psychology of the film : every week, a woman in the film takes her TV set apart to clean it in the tub, an absurd enterprise Werner Herzog would like, for it is destined to fail – as Raymond Queneau wrote, no matter how much effort we make, dust always leaves residue. And consequences.
The American soldiers are well aware of that : dust from impoverished uranium causes their kids to have malformations, as we see in the movie, and those terrible images are the tragic counterpart to the dailyness of our dusty but tolerable lives.
By producing Hartmut Bitomsky's documentary, which is clearly the best antidote to the televisual vacuum of some recent non-fiction, Ma.ja.de. confirms its key-role as the producer of some of the best European documentaries. Staub was coproduced by Big Sky Film, WDR, and the Swiss outfit Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion. International sales are handled by Deckert Distribution.
(Translated from Italian)
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