Quay Landing
cataloge festival "visions du reel" | Nyon 1998

How can one make a film with such scanty material, with nothing or virtually nothing? A few sequences shot somewhere along the seaside, models posing in shop windows, cyclists, skaters and joggers going by behind the palm trees lining the quay, a man attempting a Thai chi movement at the end of the pier The film is based on these three elements in which there is a succession of mobility and immobility between the camera and the subject.

They each present a particular state of movement, suspended or complete, and reveal a fissure between foreground and background. The soundtrack emphasises the comic aspect of certain sequences, in which the ballet of bodies is interspersed by tree trunks passing between them and the camera. With a slight, ironic time lag, the track is composed of extracts from languorous music and slowed-down sounds, interrupted and repeated like the sequences themselves. The optical phenomenon this produces seems to recreate the black spaces between the photograms and reminds us that fluidity of movement in film is only a rapid succession of frozen instants. This is a dual process: not only do the characters move within the frame, but the frame itself seems to want to move, to escape from itself. The progressive build-up of the central sequence leads to decomposition of the movement and gives rise to a chase both with and within the frame.

Experimental and reflexive, quay landing explores the mechanics of filming with a burlesque and twilight perspective. In this film study, sound and pictures are edited and manipulated like patterns. A poet of reality, Stephan Sachs returns to this cinema povero to question the image all the more deftly; it is not that the images are particularly outstanding in themselves for what they represent, but more for what they are: a skimming, skirting, fleeting passage of the world. A tribute to and wink at the works of Marey and Muybridge, this film reminds us of the origins of cinema, of the elementary principles which were already at work in the viewing machines of the last century, like the kinetoscope.

Strange, enigmatic, and visually powerful, quay landing invites us to meditate on movement and the nature of the cinematographic image. (Ib)