Thursday, 25 November 2010

The First Movie

Goptapa Village
Monday night’s RBC Film Club showed what happened when Northern-Irish critic, director and filmmaker Mark Cousins travelled to Goptapa, a Kurdish Iraqi village with a population 700 located on a tributary of the Tigris River. The same community that Saddam’s helicopters gassed, killing at least ten per cent of its population. His idea was to make a documentary about a place and its people, normally only portrayed on the news and current affairs, through the eyes of its children. Cousins and his crew gave the local children some small cameras and encouraged them to film one another, which I must say lead to some very interesting segments of film, the best one being the small boy playing with the mud in a small irrigation channel. It was quite obvious that the children were coming to the filming from an entirely different angle than Cousins, who at times was irritatingly arty, i.e. close ups of birds sitting on the dry earth, beautiful to look at but very little to do with films promising premise. The most fascinating part of the film was watching the children reactions whilst they watched a movie for the first time in there lives, all be it in a make shift cinema.

The Kurdish childen watching their first movie.
The First Movie (2009) has been described as ‘magic realist’ and is supposed to be about the wonder and power of the imagination. To sum up I would describe the director’s debut film as interesting without being exceptional and I was not always convinced by his attitude towards the subject matter. The soundtrack was a little overwhelming and the commentary could try your patience at times. Cousins is a man that seems to be ever so slightly in love with him self. A much better personal documentary about a specific place and observed through the memories of childhood is Terence Davies Of Time and the City (2008).

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