Augiéras definitely painted for posterity.
After vandals destroyed a set of his desert bunker murals, he painted
another, deliberately burying all signs of it in the sand. The European expatriate painter would only
trust future generations to respect his work.
Both a fictional Malawian and Spain’s leading contemporary artist Miguel
Barceló search for those lost murals in Isaki Lacuesta’s odd hybrid The Double Steps (trailer here, which screens during the San Francisco Film Society’s 2012 San Francisco International Film Society.
does not appear directly in Steps, but
his spirit appears to inhabit Abdallah Chambaa, a former soldier, mustered out
of service by his commanding officer uncle, with whom he was involved in an
incestuous relationship. Chambaa soon
becomes as bandit, as former soldier often do, but he also has a compulsion to
paint. Periodically, Steps also follows Barceló in real life
Mali, producing new work inspired by Augiéras and searching for the legendary
Steps is probably more interesting to
read and write about than to watch. In
no way should it be thought of as Raiders
of the Lost murals. Feverish in
tone, it has a loose narrative, featuring frequent shifts in time that are
sudden, yet ill-defined. Lacuesta also simultaneously
shot a documentary about Barceló that probably offers more of the historical
and artist context many viewers might be wondering about.
hazy style keeps his cast at an emotional arm’s length from the audience. At least Diego Dussuel’s breath-taking
cinematography somewhat pulls them back in, capturing the rugged beauty of Mali’s
landscape, especially the cliffs Barceló explores looking either for Augiéras’
murals or his own inspiration. Steps is a film anyone seriously dealing
with art cinema will eventually have to take into account, making it a
completely appropriate, even valuable, programming selection for the festival. However, those looking for an unpretentious
film to get caught up in should probably look elsewhere.
In fact, there are some great films to choose
from at this year’s SFIFF, including the inspiring and infuriating Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Hong Sang-soo’s
characteristically clever The Day HeArrives, the intriguing interconnected German trilogy Dreileben, the outstanding documentary-lament for Cambodian cinema Golden Slumbers, Mohammad Rasoulof’s
timely but intimate Goodbye, the
surprisingly effective true story of French injustice Guilty, the breezy profile of the festival’s honored guest Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema, the
cerebral science fiction fable Target, Andrea
Arnold’s challenging adaptation of WutheringHeights, and Carol Reed’s always classic The Third Man. Undoubtedly
an interesting work best appreciated self-selecting cineastes, The Double Steps also screens again tonight
(4/24) as part of this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival.
Labels: Francois Augieras, Miguel Barcelo, SFIFF '12, Spanish Cinema