Blesok no. 46, January-February, 2006
The Truth Is Not a Taboo
The documentaries, "propaganda", tracing the path for the comeback of the true values
Creating a subjective picture of a reality which impartialy leads to relativity and an absurdness of life is the visual contact with the latest documentary made by director Aleksandar Manić, titled “Shutka Book of Records”. The movie gains controversial dimensions in Skopje because part of Roma people didn't find it suitable to identify with the stories of the leading actors and their neighbors staring in this exquisite documentary. Luckily enough, the dispute did not escalate, so the potential viewers could see the document. The controversy and the disagreements remained on a level of general theory of ethics in motion pictures documenting the reality, yet furnished with the absolute freedom of the author.
In “Shutka Book of Records” we can sense and recognize the Czech art of filming planted in Manić's work from the Film Academy that he graduated at. In the manner of film play of the great Italian director Federico Fellini, the characters and their truthful act leaves the observer with an impression that they follow a script. The universal message coming from the “happy valley” is the one that relies on the individual coming from a specific ethnic group that has fantastically organized living chaos, which no one could deny. It's a chaos in which this particular individuals have found the meaning of life and by that it would be sinful to think that you can put them in any kind of civilization frame.
In that micro society it seems that everyone has found their place without prejudice that is burdening the, so called, civilization and there are no taboos. One next to another is living hectic and fanatic Turkish music lovers, geese fights, and wardrobe collectors, travesties, homosexuals. Vulgarity is completely eliminated in front of the natural narration of the camera.
All the characters in the picture are portraits of passionate individuals celebrating life in full erection. The disorder and rotten smell, as well as the sub standards are minor categories in their everyday living. The love of life is above the life itself!
The author does not manipulate with the gipsy exotica as we have already seen in the aesthetics of Emir Kusturica or Stole Popov.
The story is spiced with excellent tones of Goran Bregović, the master of similar music illustration.
With a subtle touch, “Shutka Book of Records” evokes the question of deliberate or accidental isolation. There, on the outskirts of town and on society margins, lives a community that by no chance would change their “constitution”. “Even if I had a Mercedes, I would still own ten horses” – is a saying that delivers individual choice as much as it confronts the branded norms. Therefore, even if Manić was to sterilize the document, this passionate saying can not be forced by any means. Manić has used the irony of this reality as a metaphor, in order to mark another (different) reality. Aside all the other “sub stories,” the fact remains that he did an ultimate excellent drive through a mission of art – with the last scene driven by emotions you touch “deliverance absolute”.
By definition, documentary films are subjected to verification. As all the other facts, these films can be submitted as a meter of dispute and accused of forgery of possible reality. In that manner, Vladimir Poganić wrote: “Written documents, memoirs, journalistic reports (articles), books, portraits, are subjective visions of the actual events, people, time and customs. They are submitted to intolerance, irony, hatred, and lies…”
On the other hand, the camera can not record differently than what is the fact in front. “The fascist film maker could tape Mussolini for what he actually was: a small, fat, funny, and self-sufficient grotesque clown”.
What it takes is the liberty of the author and his ethics to be left with the choice and his selective approach to picture this angle of the truth about this gipsy area.
The Macedonian cinematography remembers professional and well done documentaries, but what is striking is the lack of inspiration in a period of serious historical and social turmoil. The transition is at least turbulent; it has cleared the path putting aside the boring sterility, and has brought to the surface the anomalies that are vital to the expressive documentation. We are talking about film placed in a function of aesthetics and ethics. From many aspects, the actual reality is a source for journalistic prints “proving the alleged truth and disclosing the ever present chaos,” that took its toll and vanishes the normative mirrors of beauty. Therefore, for those that took the camera “to play with” as their mean of interpretation, there is a whole lot of “true stories” yet to be disclosed. As much as this document will correspond with its time, its power will be noticed in the years of “oblivion”.
Furthermore, puzzling fact is the lack of a documentaries and their function in political propaganda of the political elites (an instrument randomly used by different and various political ideologies throughout history). Although the politic is dominant information in our society, placed as an essential value and standing highly on a pedestal, yet it does not use the documentary form for its own purposes and affirmation.
Does this shows that the taken path was simple and the way to approach did not need any extra efforts to “mislead” the powerful visual media, is a question of sociological interpretations, but it is sure thing that this leaves quite enough space for “filming” that can broke down the deliberate twisted values and become powerful instrument of “propaganda” of the truth.