Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Shortlisted Short Doc: Paraiso
this really is the sort of work Americans just won’t do. Every day immigrant window washers make some
of Chicago’s tallest skyscrapers sparkle.
It is a well paid gig, but one with obvious risks. Three such workers ruminate on their job and
wider issues of mortality in Nadav Kurtz’s Paraíso
is one of eight films to make the Academy’s short documentary shortlist.
Paraíso is sure to have
its champions amongst those who see it as a handy tool to use to advance this
or that piece of immigration legislation.
However, none of Kurtz’s subjects ever mentions the Dream Act. In fact, they have no real complaints about
America, nor do they explicitly establish their legal employment status. Their concerns, as recorded by the
Israeli-born Kurtz, are deeper, more metaphysical. It is questions like the existence of god and
life-after-death that preoccupy them, especially as they are about to dangle
themselves hundreds of feet in the air.
or not their philosophizing engages the viewer, Paraíso can be enjoyed on a level similar to one of the History
Channel’s extreme jobs reality shows.
The aerial cinematography, credited to Kurtz, Christopher Markos, Jay
Patton, and Andrew Wehde, is pretty spectacular. Frankly, it is worth reviewing just to have an
excuse to post some of the cool stills.
Paraíso is quite an achievement, but
it is unlikely to radically shift anyone’s perspective on life or the
hereafter. Still, it certainly suggests
Kurtz may well be a filmmaker worth keeping an eye on, especially considering
he co-edited Dan Pritzker’s hopefully forthcoming Bolden!, the companion film to his under-appreciated silent jazz
The short documentary category often produces underwhelming
slates of nominees, so the Academy could probably do far worse than Paraíso.
At least it is easily watchable, clocking in with a ten minute running
time. Cool looking but hardly
revelatory, Paraíso should have
plenty of festival life ahead of it.
Labels: Documentary, Short Films