Brazil's João Moreira Salles and Germany's Andres Veiel took to the stage in Berlin to discuss the essence of the documentary and the use of archival images
Filmmaker João Moreira Salles is participating in the Panorama Dokumente section with No intenso agora (In the Intense Now), a documentary constructed using archival material that belongs as much the director himself as it is does to film lovers and students everywhere. The feature-length documentary begins with the footage recorded by Salles' mother in October of 1966 while traveling in China, and which is connected via a narrative crafted by the director himself through other images from May of 1968 in France, the end of the Prague Spring and the death of student Edson Luís during the Brazilian dictatorship. The documentary both comments on these moments of extreme intensity, in which one lives fully in the present, but also raises the questions of how one survives to the end of this intensity and what happens when happiness ends and it is time to return to banality. João Moreira Salles affirmed that the only view of 1968 which is still possible is personal perspective. "What the documentary does best is not to inform. That's journalism's job. The documentary is a means of experiencing a place, a person, an event. The text by Walter Benjamin about the end of experience is a beautiful essay that helps us to think about the documentary," the director observed.
Foto: Camilla Gonzatto
In the Competition programme, documentarian Andres Veiel presented Beuys, a film about the German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986). The film also uses archival images, which are interspersed with interviews conducted with five people who lived with the artist. For Veiel, one of the challenges of working with archival material lies in rendering 'cinematographic' images that were produced for other purposes and which were essentially not intended for the big screen. "Reconsidering ideas is a very delicate process, because many times the material does not fit. In the end, the material has to become my own, or else it is not my film," the director explained. By choosing the material, "the filmmaker is creating his very own story," Veiel concluded. Lembrar Beuys, Veiel noted, is important for contemplating what it is to be an artist with attitude today: "It's about being strong while demonstrating strength but also one's wounds."