WOW FILM FESTIVAL: THOSE WHO JUMP + THE FUTURE PERFECT | FILM REVIEW
Those Who Jump (****)
The Future Perfect (****)
One emerging theme of Sunday’s edition of WOW Film Festival at Chapter was migration. Given that the festival’s tagline this year is “Voices of Resistance” it’s no surprise; Those Who Jump and The Future Perfect are defiantly eloquent films that portray and depict migrants from their own point-of-view, giving them agency and the means with which to express themselves to go beyond the standard, one-dimensional images we see so often on our mass media. That they are so different in form and direction only serves to point out the multitude of human experience.
Those Who Jump is a documentary directed by and about Abou Bakar Sidibé, a Malian refugee living on Mount Gurugu, overlooking Melilla, a tiny outpost town in North Africa that belongs to Spain. Entry to Melilla is of course, entry to Europe. Sidibé was handed a camera by the film’s co-directors, Mortiz Seibert and Estephan Wagner, and asked to record camp life through his own eyes. What emerges is a moving diary of day-to-day life, roving between attempts to storm the barbed-wire fences of Melilla, the banalities of camp chores and attempts to keep one’s mind off the constant fear and anxiety of brutal Moroccan police forces raiding the camp.
The camp is evidently quite large; each national group has its own chiefs, ministers, and laws, and organised football between national groups is common to the camps. One particular highlight is a full on camp game between Mali and the Ivory Coast. The work that Seibert and Wagner have done in helping to put Sidibé’s story together shouldn’t go unmentioned. This is a deeply poetic film, one that allows us to understand Sidibé’s motivations, dreams and fears; this is someone who understands fully that Europe is not some golden land, but rather a place where at the very least he hopes to find some stability, and the discussions he records between himself and friends are revealing in the way they depict a wide array of hopes and fears.
The Future Perfect focuses on a much more specific element of the migrant experience; the difficulties of learning an entirely new language, and with it a new way of thinking. A docudrama with many of the actors playing themselves, director Nele Wohlatz tells the story of Xiaobin, a Chinese teen acclimatising to life in Buenos Aires. Her conservative family discourage her from trying to learn Spanish, but that doesn’t stop Xiaobin from trying to engage in Argentinean culture, even finding a boyfriend from India, Vijay, whose only common ground with Xiaobin appears to be their mutually broken Spanish.
At only 65-minutes long, The Future Perfect knows what it wants to say and says it quickly and sharply. There’s a strain of droll, understated humour running through the film that reminds one of Aki Kaurismäki or even Jim Jarmusch. Certainly Wohlatz appears to have Jarmusch’s love for celebrating cultural mixing, the kind that’s apparent in Ghost Dog or Dead Man. As a cinematic evocation of the act of learning a new language—as Xiaobin learns new tenses in Spanish, so too does her ability to express herself in Spanish increase, alongside the film’s narrative complexity—there aren’t many more curious yet entirely successful attempts than The Future Perfect.
Those Who Jump will play at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on March 26th at 2:30pm.
The Future Perfect will play at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 26th March at 5pm and Swansea Taliesin on April 4th at 4:30pm.