CIFF Diary: Day 4, pt. 2 - Your Masterpiece is Right In Front of You

10/10 - Attending the CIFF for a number of days, and not always knowing what you're walking into, can yield some varied results, even for the most open-minded film goer.  But, one of my favorite aspects of festival going is taking a chance on an afternoon screening armed only with a guide description that could really go either way: "Fifteen years of 35mm footage shot almost entirely from one vantage point overlooking the back of the Zurich train station is paired with fifteen years of answering machine messages to form an unlikely portrait of the artist."  

The view from Imbach's window - Day is Done
In an interesting contrast to the thoughts on documentary that had been stirred up at that morning's "Art as Activism" panel, Thomas Imbach's Day is Done uses the documentary form in a way that does not have an emergent or overt political agenda, but presents itself as a rather ambitious experiment in auto-ethnographic film making.  And, yes, it is mostly shot out of his studio window, taking only a few short opportunities to share footage from other locations;  a trip to the cemetery with his mother, a Christmas morning with his son, and a few other brief detours from the primary vantage point of the film.  The other main element of this personal exploration is a series of answering machine messages, collected over a number of years, offering this constantly shifting reflection of Imbach through the voices of his friends, family, and creative partners as they plead with him to answer the phone, congratulate him, and occasionally even recommend films (in one moment, a female voice ecstatically recommending Wong Kar Wai's "In the Mood For Love" as Imbach continues to visually obsess over a female who passes in front of his window every day). 

The passing girl - Day is Done
Imbach also includes musical interludes, primarily Dylan tunes, re-recorded by the "Day is Done" musicians, which gives the film a coherent musical quality.  Day is Done is erratic in both it's aural and visual elements, speeding up and slowing down, cutting off songs in mid phrase, whipping our necks around through swift camera adjustments.  There is an element at play here of Imbach playing God (or Trickster...or Verotv!), manipulating the pace and meaning of everything outside his window, spinning the tunes he wants to hear, and ripping the needle off the record player when he's had enough.  

Thomas Imbach - Day is Done 
Day is Done may be my favorite film at the festival so far, and it's a must for lovers of experimental film.  The screening I attended also had the most walk outs of anything I have been to thus far, but, admittedly, it's not for everyone.  The rewards of Day is Done are worth waiting for and will most likely stay with you for a while, the immediacy of it's humor and drama all managed from a singular perspective.  Day is Done is a film for those who truly love moving images and the expressive possibilities of film technique.  Imbach's very personal and vast experiment is incredibly adept in it's technique, meditating on the movement of life that is happening outside of all our windows.  And, I would imagine, it is the only truly experimental feature length film at the fest.

Up Next:  David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method  

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