I'm always cautious of the silent films with live music events at the festival. I've been burned before, and tend to boycott them for a few years. But this one was too good to pass up, and I was right to see DeVotchKa accompany (that's the critical word, accompany, not do a concert in front of) Dziga Vertov's THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA.
When I last saw this film, at the SF Silent Film Festival back in...wow, 2010, has it been that long?...I described it as a hallucination. It still kind of is. But more importantly, it's a wall-breaking film that invites the audience into the process of making the film, and invites the film into the process of making an audience. It has no intertitles. It's very explicitly attempting to invent a new language--a language of moving images that it uniquely cinematic and universal. And it shows the mechanics of film-making, but at the same time creating intentionally artificial images. If it has succeeded in creating a language of film, it's created a language where it's easy to convincingly lie, and a literate audience must be aware of that. Last time I saw it, I thought of INCEPTION (or the trailer to it) and that's even more resonant now, as INCEPTION was based on layers upon layers of artificial worlds until you literally don't know if any are true (INCEPTION was also based on shared dreaming... which is what films are.) I'm certain Chris Nolan has studied THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA. If not, he has at least been subconsciously influenced by other works who were influenced by it.
And DeVotchKa...they were amazing. Keeping it high-energy and fun. Accompanying the film, but recognizing it as a very very playful film. There are big ideas in there, but it's ultimately about a man playing with a movie camera. And their standing ovation was well deserved, and their encore was greatly appreciated.
Running Time: 67 of the best damn minutes ever!
My Total Minutes: 426,132