Avoiding Labels – István Illés: track 32

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There was a long and complex argument on the 10th Kecskemét Animation Filmfestival (2011) when the critics and the jury tried to categorize István Illés’s short film track32. Some said it was a dance-film, others claimed that it was a music-video, while a few outspoken viewers spoke against its inclusion in the competition’s program, since – in their opinion – it was not even an animation film to begin with. The controversy aside most of them agreed that track32 is a witty, innovative experiment which keeps balance between abstraction and documentary.

According to the director István Illés, a 2010 media design graduate of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design the idea of the film simply came up when he crossed a road while listening to the 32nd track of Ghosts I-IV from Nine Inch Nails. He wanted to incorporate both the traffic noise and the rhythm of the dance into one movie. The result is an experimental dance-film, a narrative music video and a symbolic interpretation of a man-woman relationship condensed into a single set – like a Greek tragedy situated into our modern world.

The scene is a busy multi-lane highway with a man and a woman on the opposite sides of the road. Their sole aim is to get to each other surmounting the obstacle of continuous and rapid two-way traffic. The dance technique recalls the movements of contact improvisation which gets more dramatic with the racing cars on the eight-lane highway between them. To avoid disturbing theatricality and to make more concrete the abstraction of the dance, Illés mixes realistic location with animation and various methods for visual representation. He imitates the recording of industrial cameras (with the date in the left and the time in the right corner), he „fractures” the images, arbitrarily switches between viewpoints (at one point we see the woman from the inside of a car) and uses a fair amount of CGI.

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Illés also allows himself a bit of self-reflection: we can see an Intacto poster lying on the ground being overrun by cars, he includes a bold slow motion moment in the middle of the film, and after keeping the couple standing still for a few seconds he shows the cameraman with a handy-cam. With this attitude he disturbs the passivity of the viewer and reminds her of the media itself. With the semi-violent ending Illés spices up the well-known Romeo and Juliet story with a spoonful of irony and assures the audience of the playfulness of his experiment.

Written by: Dorottya Szalay

 

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