Manakamana – Stephanie Spray/Pacho Velez, 2013
So the Edinburgh International Film Festival will be on soon, and I’m right here, holding tight my badge as a costumer care volunteer and sneaking literally everywhere. Press & Industry screenings are mine. All mine. Or pretty much all. I’m spending my whole daytime at theatres, for good or bad, I take a glimpse at the light and soon another reel is on and off I go. And all this pretty much alone; but what’s this about if not breaking free of tickets and hustle about? How could I do this all day if not alone?!
In fact, this morning at 9 (Jeez, never been in a cinema that early), sun shimmering high, me on the screen seat with some few other addicted, my visual day kicked off with Manakamana (defying pronounciation).
By Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, this mind satisfyig full-lenght documentary cast a spell on me, right from the beginning. The narrative unrolls in a cable car, carrying people to and from the worshipped temple of Manakamana in Nepal. 108 mins in a cable car. Right from the bottom of the valley to the very top end of the hill. In fact, we witness passengers (every ride lasts about 10 mins) and their interactions with eachother, the daze of the wonderful scapes, the gritty cables, animals ready to sacrifice, past, future and music.
Characters’ own stories do not intermingle in any sense, but each of them allows us to travel with our minds as they talk or simply move. The silence of some couples, women going up to the temple to pray for their conditions, animals tied to their necks, a group of rockers, visitors and the struggle of a old native woman to eat an ice cream. Passing through exhilarant jiffs without losing a thoughtful approach to we’re shown.
Watching the movie, one has the impression of being brought within the cable car as the naturalistic acting mirrors what we all do while alone. We laugh on our own, we marvel at nature, we think of our conditions as human beings in a contorted vision of what values are and what they supposededly should be. Some overthink and subconsciously try to make sense of the time spent alone, some enjoy their ride and cheerfully embrace their existenxe on a cable car. The film sucessfully and simply mirrors the diversity of life and the capacity of people to see reality under different angles.
This art work is a peaceful ride through reality and silence, which couldn’t be explored better on the screen. Low budget and a great bulk of bravery to help people questioning what we are and the importance of gestures.
A narrarive made up and spun by gestures. Unforgettable.