Program Diary 2: Solicited Time & Comfort of Space: 13th 25 FPS Reflexes

An indifferent glow of sea waves as a stage for the human existential cycle. The waves that chew on the shore like a grinning carnivore denture, luring humanoid microbes in black to their insatiable stomachs. Spots of sunlight pierce through the shrubbery and tree tops of dishevelled nature and form dynamic patterns along the way. Space is a place of refuge and a place for drama/plot. 

We sit back in space, we enjoy it, we foot-kick it, we leave it if it gets on our nerves, we abstract it if need be, or we completely erase it and leave an empty dimensionless nothing. We imbue space with our own state of mind, our own emotions, ideas, desires or the fruit thereof; we shape it to convey a message. Space is our partner. Time is tricky. Time is non-negotiable. A man spends his entire life begging for time, and finally ends up by getting either too much or too little of it.

Arrivals, departures, passages, escapes – human (and sophisticated mechanical) kinetics, both physical and mental – are in the focus of this year's torchbearers of Croatian experimental film. They Just Come and Go by Boris Poljak speaks most explicitly about a space that connects us, a beach, but set in a small fraction of time before sunrise – the time of day when two groups of people linger there: the golden youth shaking off their last atoms of energy along the peaceful coast and the golden agers who defiantly fret their saved atoms of energy. Their encounter bursts with melancholic human warmth and sporadic hilariousness, and it lasts exactly as much as  it takes for the golden sun to rise and chase us all home, for there is nothing more left to see/record/register. Like a ritual performed with awe, Poljak's film lasts just as much as time and time-related higher powers (darkness and sun) allow it.

Women in Renata Poljak's Partenza are seemingly frozen in time, standing motionless on the shore and staring into the wasteland. Their eyes are burdened with emotions and expectations, just as their arrivals and departures are anaemic. However, time, marked only by a repetitive sound of the waves, is implacable – it does not bring closure to their tense gaze; anticipation is impotent – expressed only in a transhistorical gesture of switching to underwater tombs of African and Asian emigrants. As the sea sways the ghosts of things they used to own, the space becomes equally a tomb and a refuge, and an impression of ruthless periodicalness accompanying such stories that repeat in time remains like a bone stuck in the throat.

Meanwhile by Mate Ugrina and 10 by Paula Konjušić are a testament to the human need for escape, either to 'the life of others', micro-spaces borrowed/torn off from surrounding daily routines, or to the very concept of 'meantime', places beyond the units of time, i.e. space where time itself, not only a man in it, is retarded. Such places are possible only in our private fantasies, dreams and the feverish utopian imagery of our brave experimenters, which only speaks of the urgent need to preserve these visions, to drain them in formaldehyde and stretch them onto the widest screen possible, before we are altogether chewed up by the teeth of time.

Danijel Brlas