Intimate Dialogues at Berlinale Talents

By Narjes Torchani

The filmography of Argentinian director Manuel Abramovich has been quite a journey. The “Better be careful: Intimate Dialogues” session of the Berlinale, moderated by Dutch film critic Dana Linssen, focused on his cinematographic approach and the relationship he has with his protagonists during each shoot. Author of three short films and three feature-length documentaries, Manuel Abramovich has a lot to say about dialogues. The questions asked by Dana Linssen, and the director’s transparent answers, highlighted the different approaches to dialogues both on screen and off.

The first layer of dialogue that Abramovich establishes with his protagonists is to live with them, share their everyday life and “just go with the flow”. “I play with the limits of reality and I always tell my protagonists that what I show in the film is only a version of them, that it is a construction”, says the director. To him, this goes with filming them without judging them. His first short film LA REINA (2013) is about a little girl participating in a beauty contest. When he noticed that the girl is always silent and the women surrounding her (her mother, aunt and grandmother) speak a lot about her, he made the choice to film her face in close shots, with voiceovers by these women, and to divide the sound and image. “It is like the camera is in dialogue with the girl’s face”, notes Dana Linssen.

Another interesting dialogue is the one Abramovich had with Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel when he made his documentary ANOS LUZ (2017) about her film ZAMA. The challenge was that she was not used to being the protagonist and did not want to be one. Exchanging roles and shifting from one territory to another made Manuel Abramovich more aware of his protagonist’s point of view. The experience was even more challenging with the main character in SOLAR (2016), Flavio Cabobianco, who wanted to take control of the shooting and direct some scenes of the film himself. He even asked for the rushes in order to make his own edit and his own version of the documentary. During the “Intimate Dialogues” discussion, the director said that he is thinking about accepting this proposal. He nevertheless claims his role as a director and his right of having a point of view and a construction of reality in his film. The poster for SOLAR reads: “A film by Flavio Cabobianco”, but the name of the protagonist is barred and under it is the director’s name! This says it all.