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LGBT+ people are hunted down and forced to live in hiding, in a not-so-distant Germany - moody piece of slow cinema premieres at the Pardi di Domani section of the 76th Locarno Film Festival


Omar (Akin Victor) is released from prison. He jumps on a train and visits his friend Ava (Banafshe Hourmazdi), who lives with her dog. She tells him that most of their friends have fled, that she broke up with her partner Violet, and that their friend Slimane has been taken away. There are no further explanations, and audiences are left to put the puzzle pieces together. The film synopsis explains us that the film takes place “in a Germany in the not too distant future” and that “queer people have become more marginalised and under threat”. It would be barely possible to work that out without this information to hand.

Roughly three quarters of this 19-minute exquisite blend of slow cinema, queer drama and science fiction are entirely devoid of dialogue. The conversation between Omar and Ava is very languid, and the camera hardly captures their face as they speak. Instead we see the dog, a leg or the wall as the two young people talk. For about three minutes, the static camera shows nothing but the blurry wallpaper. The weather is cold, the sky is grey. These creative choices create a sense of distance and alienation. This is a bleak and despondent world. The only slimmer of hope appears in a cathartic gesture in the final scene (the movie’s most powerful moment).

The biggest challenge that Portuguese director Carlos Pereira faces is to create a coherent piece of slow cinema within such a short duration. The latest movie by Tsai Ming-Liang, a masterpiece of LGBT+ film and slow cinema, had a runtime of 127 minutes. While visually bewitching, Slimane also feels loose and fragmented. Perhaps that too was a creative choice, providing the movie with an otherworldly, enigmatic aura. Either way, I look forward to seeing Pereira fully develop his language and vision, and author his first feature film (this is his third creation, all of them short films). I shall look out for the director’s name in a “not too distant future”. Hopefully his fate won’t be as bleak as his characters’.

Slimane premiered in the Pardi di Domani section of the 76th Locarno International Film Festival on Friday, August 4th. Incidentally, Tsai Ming-Liang will be honoured with a Career Achievement Award at the very same event in just a couple of days (on August 6th).

This piece was published in partnership with Ubiquarian.

By Victor Fraga - 04-08-2023

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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