One Hundred Steps

One Hundred Steps is a short film set inside two stately homes, Bantry House in Ireland and Musée Grobet-Labadié in France. Within the walls celebrating the great and the good, people play folk music, dance and sing, representing the voices and the cultures of the people who built these houses, worked in these houses, but will never see themselves represented in these houses.

We start in Bantry House, which I knew nothing about before seeing this film, but have since looked up, and it is fascinating. Built in the 18th century, it is the traditional home of the White family. Richard White was awarded the title of Baron for leading British forces against French support for Irish rebels fighting for independence. He eventually graduated to becoming Earl of Bantry, a title handed down to his sons, who sat in the House of Lords as Tories. You don’t need to know any of this to enjoy the movie, I just found it interesting so I thought I’d share. It’s pretty clear who they were when you see the mansion filled with finery and portraits.

While the tour guide narrates the official story of Bantry House, the attendees break off into different rooms, and there sing in Irish, dance, and play the pipes. The names and the faces of those who made this house will not be seen or spoken in these halls, their stories will go untold, but for the duration of this film the sounds of their lives are heard, resounding.

From there we travel to Marseille in France. The Musée Grobet-Labadié is another great house of a wealthy family, filled to the brim with artworks and museum pieces. As the tour guide describes the bourgeoise owners’ love for collecting expensive portraits and paintings, again those in attendance wander off into different rooms. There they sing in Occitan and Arabic, play pipes, drums and cymbals, dance. They fill the house with the sounds of the myriad people who lived and worked here, from across France and North Africa. Like in Bantry, their portraits, history, lives and cultures will not be displayed on these walls, but for a moment, the film gives them space to be represented.

Really interesting wee film.

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Impossible Figures And Other Stories I

In an empty city, at what feels like the end of time, an ancient woman recalls the world past, the world it was promised to be, and what came to be.

Filmmaker Marta Pajek draws on Escher’s impossible objects and marries them to the socio-political ideas that seemed so plausible but were impossible to realise in real life. However, while Escher’s objects were harmless, the molding of people into impossible figures is not so. The world as something half-dreamed, half-remembered, seems now like a graveyard, silent as the failures of our ideas has left us devastated.

Following on from watching Mir, my first thought was of this as metaphor for the fall of the Soviet Union, but I think it’s more open that than. Equally as she wanders round the empty city, absent now of human figures, save the headless mannequins in shop windows, you could say it is a metaphor for how capitalism is leading us all to annihilation, the impossible figure being one who exploits exponential wealth from a finite planet, forever. As the floods pour into the city, it is could also be seen as an ecological message.

Ultimately it is a short animation on our propensity to self-destruction, through our inability to separate what is real from what is imagined. It closes on the old woman’s face, nearly drowning, singing in German ‘Where have all the flowers gone?”, ending as it sinks inevitably downwards,” When will we ever learn?”


This comic-tragic short film opens with a shot of the Euromaidan protestors toppling the statue of Lenin in Ukraine’s capital. In tinging metal or rumbling granite, the remaining statues of Lenin lament to one another, their language of stone and steel translated for us in subtitles. “Another fallen comrade!” they sigh. To honour him, they hold a minute’s silence.

Unfortunately, one statue of Lenin doesn’t get the message, their most northerly brethren, delayed by distance. In Svalbard, a bust of Lenin stares out across the frozen landscape, unaware of having drawn ire for his faux pas. Finally he hears the tinging and scraping of his nearest relative, dismissing him politely and firmly from the ‘High Choir’ of Lenin statues. Initially dismayed to be left in such isolation, the bust rallies in bravado. Who needs them, eh?

Alone at the end of the world, the bust of Lenin boasts he can do anything, he can fly! He stares up into the night, the heavens clear and close in the Arctic sky, and dreams the dreams of travel to the stars. But a dog wanders into town, and in every bark, the bust of Lenin seems to hear reproach for the death of Laika, the dog the Soviets sent into space. No plan was ever made for the dog’s safe return and it died on re-entry. “I had nothing to do with that!” he insists.

From Lenin’s mighty dreams, he is haunted by the sound of the innocent, destroyed in their pursuit. And from a near-global choir, he has become one voice at the edge of the world. In the background faintly plays a Russian folk song, but it is now more widely known as the tune from Tetris. The world moved on without him, and left him standing here, frozen as stone.

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Displaced is a short film about two ping-pong coaches who try to keep the sport alive in post-war Kosovo. Ermegan Kazazi and Jeton Mazreku effectively play themselves, depicting their real life struggles only a few years past. The result is a blend of drama and documentary.

As Kosovo struggles to rebuild, its people struggle to rebuild too. Ermegan and Jeton are trying to get the sport of ping-pong back on its feet. The only thing they still have is their table, but no dedicated practice space. Thus they are reduced to training in the back of garages, school halls, and empty wedding venues. They pack their table onto the back of tractors in order to make it to training spaces, being towed in the bitter snow with their only equipment.

Some people are heartened and impressed with their efforts, the wedding venue owner offering up his space with the deepest respect. Others are simply incredulous, especially since one of them left a cushy life in Germany to come back home to Kosovo.

When people talk about the dream of sporting success, it’s usually of Olympics and medals. But this is another kind of dream, of carrying the flame through the darkest times, keeping it lit to guide the younger generation, to give them hope of some future that isn’t war.

Surprisingly effecting for a film about ping-pong.

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