Chris Kennedy

“Aragane.” by Kaori Oda, August 24, 2017

Aragane (Ore)
dir. Kaori Oda | Bosnia/Japan 2015 | 68 min. digital

Made while director Kaori Oda was studying at Béla Tarr’s Film.Factory in Sarajevo, Aragane is, on the surface, a documentary about a Bosnian coalmine. As Oda takes us underground, the surroundings are illuminated solely by the available light of the miners’ headlamps, creating a state of sensual semi-blindness that both attunes us to the dangers of the mine and — with the beams cutting arcs of light through the blackness and casting shadows on the cavern walls — becomes an organic metaphor for the roots of cinema itself. It is not surprising that commentators have drawn similarities between Oda’s work and that of Harvard’s renowned Sensory Ethnography Lab: as in such films as Leviathan and Manakamana, in Aragane Oda attempts to understand her subjects through an embodied presence that moves beyond distanced knowledge and towards intimate entanglement.

“[Aragane] literally reinvents my idea of what cinema is and can be — and not only because it unfolds mostly in darkness … it has an exquisite formal and even abstract beauty that is complemented, complicated, and sometimes even contradicted throughout by a continuous human presence” (Jonathan Rosenbaum).

preceded by

Landscape for Fire dir. Anthony McCall | UK 1972 | 7 min. 16mm on digital
An early film by Anthony McCall, documenting a performance in which the artist orchestrates the lighting and extinguishing of pans of gasoline across a grid laid out on the land.