Tuesday, October 23, 2007

LFF: Docs

A Walk Into the Sea (dir Esther Robinson)
We Want Roses Too (dir Alina Marazzi)

Two docs to ponder: Esther Robinson's is an exploration of the disappearance of her uncle, Danny Williams, in 1967. Using interviews with those who knew him from his work as a film editor and member of Warhol's Factory circle, the film creates a portrait of a sensitive young man, who seemed to be damaged and defeated by the competitive, druggy atmosphere of the Warhol crowd. While there is no narration, Robinson's voice is heard in the background asking questions of her family and associates of her uncle. She is puzzled as to how he could just walk out on a family gathering one evening and not return.

Most puzzling is Warhol's indifferent reaction at the time to Williams' disappearance, as they were lovers. But as a range of interviewees, including Factory acolytes Billy Name, Gerard Malanga and Brigid Berlin, explains, sensitivity to others wasn't Warhol's strong suit. Much like the Wagstaff documentary, A Walk reveals as much about the self-centred manipulation of the famous artist as it does about the less celebrated partner.

Even less conventionally authored is We Want Roses Too. Its subject is not immediately apparent as a woman is seen in lurid Technicolor window-shopping. Gradually, a picture emerges of Italian sexual mores from 1967 (that year again) until the late '90s, with women's roles shifting amid much protest and social ferment. Marazzi makes much use of found footage and women's diaries over the period, with voiceover reading the passages.

Again there is no narration but a patchwork of sources, including animation, tells an intriguing story of women's ambitions being thwarted by a combination of church, state and family and the attempts of feminism to change everyone's thinking. An hilarious advert for feminism exhorts: "Ladies, young ladies, girls. We're expecting you."

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