D’Est (1993), a film by Chantal Akerman, translated into English as From the East, is a 16-mm experimental documentary film, shot in Germany, Poland and Russia . The film investigates the stories of people’s lives in an unstable time after the collapse of the Soviet Union through the idea of memory. The film has no commentary or dialogue and instead documents landscapes and residents in an observational manner. Okwui Enwezor, curator, art critic and writer, describes the characters in the film as “bewildered, anachronistic and depthless in the harsh flare of history”
The cinematography of D’Est’ uses only available light and is executed through long, real-time shots, contributing to the genuine and unstaged nature of the film. Akerman uses two main filming approaches: the stationary fixed perspective, with figures flowing towards the camera and the tracking shot, with the camera moving slowly along streets and paths. The film also includes examples of the panning shot, where the camera rotates around a central point. The moving shots convey a sense of anxiety and vertigo.The stalking nature of the shots reveals the inhumanity of the camera.
The film does not make a claim to realism or objective expertise regarding the collapse of Communism but instead examines the individual stories of characters in intimate ways, surveying their fear of the surrounding political opacity. Akerman presents a continuous, nonsynchronous montage of images and sounds, provoking unfiltered optical and auditory impressions.The smoothness of the visual continuity is used as a tactic to accentuate the effects of narrative disjunction and discontinuity.
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