VIENNALE 2014: DISTANT VOICES FROM A CENTURY GONE
On Nepal Forever and The Incomplete
By Roger Koza
One of the most mysterious films in the last years, it is ideologically unstable, lovable at all times, and secretly defiant. What is Nepal Forever? The title can arouse a wrong expectative. Buddhist mysticism is conspicuously not present. The starting point is unexpected; this is a film about Communism in the 21st century. The filmic genre is surprising; Polunina introduces her film as a comical documentary. Since when is revolutionary spirit compatible with laughter?
Two contemporary Russian communists who are members of the Central Committee of a NGO called Communists from Russia, which has an office in Saint Petersburg, decide to go to Nepal to help in the unification of two opposing Communist factions because this confrontation is hindering the advance of a potential revolution. In 1996, there was a civil war led by the Communist Party; it didn’t last for long, but the protagonists of this uprising split after that —Leninist-Marxist on one side, and Maoists on the other. Sergei and Víctor manage to meet the leaders of these groups and try to mediate and bring them closer though there are mutual accusations and enmities, as well as different projects.
With this description it would seem this is a conventional film about a specific issue which is also a bit anachronistic, but Nepal Forever flows with such lightness that it makes this seem a continuous comical sketch or even the typical parody of a mockumentary (there is a sequence at the North Korean embassy in Katmandu which is worthy of Mel Brooks). Perhaps the hasty nature of the film and the naivety of its characters could be wrongly taken for mockery. However, after the tragic way the Communist experience ended in Russia, what we see here is simply a repetition, in a tone of farce, of that utopist spirit which now is gone. Casting away any suspicion of cynicism, we see the sympathy of these two Russian characters who ride together in a world where they can be nothing else but tourists.
This film is not set in the Middle- earth and its main character is not Andy Serkis with a digital mask to allow him to embody that sinister and “human” creature known as the Gollum; Der Unfertige is, rather, the portrait of a 60-year-old man who is presented as a Gollum. Naked and in chains, this bold-headed and relaxed man who says his name is Klaus confesses he is gay and wants to be a slave.
The fixed open shot is superb: the character gets ready and talks. The distance in the mise en scène reveals a way of working; to observe doesn’t mean to judge, but to understand. And this will be the path chosen by the young director to follow the everyday chores of his character —to cleanup and get naked, to take a shower and chain himself up, to get spanked and do a blowjob. The director will also record Klaus talking about his past (and showing some family pictures) and will delve into his personal philosophy. He will also record him entering a camp for slaves where to obey is the ultimate pleasure. The fact Klaus’ father was a hierarchical member of the military and his mother a teacher in Hitler’s times offers a sociological and historical context for his passions.
This is a film about Germany, but it doesn’t necessarily suggests violence as the driving force for Klaus’ masochism; there is something delirious about it, and it seems as a staging of power and all its structures under the service of a form of pleasure which is not related with sexuality. This is an intrinsically political film and its final shot, the only close up on this character, shows the ethics.
ALIONA POLUNINA (RUS/NEPAL 2013)
05.11 18:00 Urania Buy Ticket
06.11 16:00 Metro, Großer Saal
26. 10. 2014 – 23:00
English Versión: Tioshia Bojorquez
Roger Koza / Copyleft 2014