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Déjá Vu

Austria, 1999 (MIFF 1999, Captured - Recycled: Old, Used and Abused)

Director: Lisl Ponger

Painted indigenous dancers pause in their ritual to pose for the camera. A woman hides her face and her children under a veil, like the women of Guinea-Bissau in Chris Marker's Sans Soleil (1982) who shy away from the camera's interrogating gaze. Through the assemblage of amaleur footage (blown up from Super and Standard 8), Lisl Ponger constructs a history of Western travel. Holding the shots long enough for the tourists to drift into frame, this exceptionally beautiful film subtly artic­ulates the complicit nature of the viewer's fascination with these lush, exotic images.

Ponger's evocative use of untranslated story-telling allows a multitude of post-colonial voices to represent, through language, the differences that the imperial eye of the camera assimilates. When an English-speaking voice says,"... and we were able to witness a ceremony in a language that we didn't understand, and it was very, very moving," she unknowingly comments on the seam of hidden politics that resonate throughout deja vu.

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