More about ‘Alone and Together’

More about ‘Alone and Together’

In this article, International Online Short and Documentary Film Festival Director, Damodar Prasad explains more about ‘Alone and Together’, the theme of the  Film Festival jointly organize by Orange Film Academy and IFFT on September 10,11 and 12…Many filmmakers who want to participate in the festival posed a common question: Whether the submission should be based on the theme of ‘Covid 19 pandemic’ as the theme of the festival is ‘Alone and Together’. To this, Festival Director said: ‘Not necessary. Not at all infact.  But we chose this theme because it was a sort of felt experience amplified by the lock down times….”. Read more….

 Damodar Prasad, Director, Film Festival

A film that comes to my mind when thinking about the theme “Alone and Together” is Theo Angelopoulos movie “Eternity and a Day”. For me, this theme resonates in this movie and this is something I intimately felt while watching this movie several times.

In this movie, you meet Alexandre, the poet and the central character for whom it is the last day before getting finally admitted to the hospital. He is suffering from a serious disease and occasionally he is tormented by severe pain in the abdomen. The movie is about this last day. On this last day, the events from his past-childhood to middle age- return to him. The movie begins with Alexandre as a child being woken up by friends who are playing at the beach and calling him to join them. Immediately it cuts to present with the housekeeper walking up old Alexandre. He tells her that this is his last day and bids goodbye. He then takes his dog in the car and goes to his daughter’s house. He wants to leave the dog with her. His daughter refuses it by saying that her husband doesn’t like dogs. Meanwhile, she also tells him that they have sold their seaside house. This hurts him. He leaves his daughter’s house.

While riding in the car he comes across immigrant street children cleaning car windows hounded out by the Police. They are immigrant children from Albania. He saves a child from the police. At another junction he leaves the boy. However, very soon he becomes aware of the precarious situation of the immigrant boy whom he has just rescued. In between, he is recalled back to his past where his wife Anna is annoyed that he has only interest in writing. His relation with wife and mother comes back intermittently in the movie. While he drops in a drug store to buy medicine he sees the young boy whom he has just dropped being taken away in a truck by human traffickers. Alexandre follows them to their hide out and he meets there people who have come there to buy the children. Alexandre then offers money to get hold of the possession of the boy. After this, he wants to send back the boy to the place from where he has come. He arranges the bus for his travel back to his place and sees to it that he gets into the bus. The boy never leaves him and comes back to him.

Two car journeys with the boy, first to the border and then to make him get into a ship to escape to America are deep contemplations on empathy and feeling of togetherness.  Alexandre is also revisited by his past.  The endurance of relationship with his wife Anna and mother repeatedly draws him to engage with his last day. Towards the end of the movie, the boy utters a word in his native language. Alexandre asks him what it means. He says there is ‘little time left.” Alexandre asks Anna: “What it means tomorrow”. Anna fleeting away utters: “It is eternity and a day”. In one of the poignant moments in the movie, the boy sees his friend Salim’s dead body in the morgue. He wails “ salim…” while we see his friend’s car cleaning brush and other things being burnt. There is another moment in the movie where Alexandre and his Albanian little friend go to the border fence. The scene captures the ill ridden mechanization of state patrol of securitized borders.  Alexandre also visions in his journey the nineteenth century Greek poet Solomos who could not complete the epic and Alexandre desires to fulfill this.

There is an unyielding desire in every human to fulfill some wish. Nevertheless, the life as it constrains us in accomplishing our deeper desires and vision.  The humans are forced to struggle with the everyday reality which seemingly is not just existential tribulations of the different moments of present but a comingling of past and what is yet to come. But this struggle has to go on and the struggle is not fated to be just an individualistic pursuit in search of happiness.  Empathy and human kindredness is what sustains us for the day and what would solace us is that it is not just a finitude but an eternity….

Theo Angelopoulos “Eternity and a Day” is considered as his masterpiece. The movie won the Cannes film festival Palme d’Or.  “Eternity and a day” has a cast of illustrious stars with Bruno Ganz starring as Alexandre and Isabelle Renauld as Anna.