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In a tour de force of cinematic craft, filmmaker Thomas Imbach spent seven years shooting the demolition of the Zurich Hauptbahnhof station on 35mm from his window. In-camera editing speeds and slows the image as the lens darts from hulking excavators (with neon-clad construction workers for scale) to all manner of street life. While indebted to avant-garde aesthetics, Nemesis attains a more idiosyncratic, humanist outlook through the filmmaker’s pondering narration and beguiling soundscape. As construction begins on the prison complex that will fill the empty expanse, Imbach’s study of the passage of time gives way to reflections on current social crises through oral histories by migrants awaiting deportation from Switzerland. In a contrasting act of documentation, director Ayo Akingbade spontaneously filmed the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre days before it ceased operation after a half-century in South London. Deadphant ’s rhythmic Super8 footage creates visual poetry from the vacant site, laced with melancholy and anticipation.
Deadphant. 2020. Great Britain. Directed by Ayo Akingbade. World premiere. 3 min.
Nemesis. 2020. Switzerland. Directed by Thomas Imbach. North American premiere. In German, English; English subtitles. 131 min.
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