This first feature by contemporary artists Wilhelm and Anka Sasnal is a grasping chronicle of the decline and fall of a Polish village, where everyone is on the edge of a breakdown. A quiet portrait of the human cruelty that still lies in the basement of almost every society. Visually stunning and transgressive.
From the very start, it is evident that the authors of It Looks Pretty from a Distance, both feature-film debutants, have a huge background in the visual arts. Wilhelm Sasnal, known for his precise yet abstract paintings, and Anka Sasnal, his wife and collaborator, instantly catch us with the traps their protagonists set in the woods. What’s inside the filmmakers’ traps? Pure images, ideally paced and contemplative, that provide the real tension and suspense. No dialogue needed, not even a plot.
The story focuses on a small, incestuous Polish community during an exhaustingly hot summer. Everyone is either about to explode or come to a complete halt. Hidden aggression, hatred, discrimination, as well as fears, longings and emotional crises are constantly about to break through the surface.
Using a minimalistic, almost austere style, the Sasnals create an absolutely physical, not to say physiological, portrait of a micro society that turns into a vicious swamp, unresistingly absorbing any kind of violence. An example of purely contemporary cinema, at once tangible and elusive. –IFFR
Four films see their first New Directors/New Films screenings on Monday and Tuesday.