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ANNECY 2020

Dalibor Baric • Director of Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus

“Give me some freedom to play!”

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- We talked to the director of Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus, Dalibor Baric, about the importance of leaving some things unexplained. Including that title

Dalibor Baric  • Director of Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus

Dalibor Baric’s hypnotic animation Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Dalibor Baric
film profile
]
, selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival’s Feature Films – Contrechamp Competiton and produced by Ivan Katic for Kaos, revolves around an unusual investigation. But save for the occasional fedora, it’s a much more colourful affair than your usual noir. We spoke to the director to find out more.

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Cineuropa: Why did you decide to combine so many different techniques? You are certainly not limiting yourself here.
Dalibor Baric: Every now and then, I get this idea to shoot a “proper” movie with real actors and a camera, but I never get proper funding. So we recorded their voices in the studio, like in a radio play. I was thinking about how to tell this story without boring the viewers with just one style. Lots of people, when they hear about an experimental movie that lasts over an hour, go: “Oh my God, no!” The biggest challenge was the art direction: I started with a collage, but for other parts, I turned to rotoscoping and so on. It was like creating a medieval manuscript and adding all these layers. There are many different versions submerged under the one you got to see!

It’s funny you should mention this “medieval manuscript”, as it took years to complete them. Animation is also famously time-consuming, and yet you did everything on your own: directing, writing, animation, graphics, editing, and even the music.
I like the creative approach of writers: you type and you don’t need anyone else. That’s what I do when I am making my films, too – I just enjoy gathering all of the material, creating and avoiding that usual logistical nightmare. Sometimes, I couldn’t fully concentrate on what I was doing, or there were gaps between every working session and it was very frustrating, although that’s probably very common when you can’t delegate. But that’s when I am at my happiest: when I am alone with my work.

There are some artists name-checked in the film, like Ursula K Le Guin or Andrei Tarkovsky, but so much remains hidden. Did framing it within that noir-like investigation help to structure it in a way?
Someone, maybe Alain Robbe-Grillet, said that the detective genre is the most important genre of the 20th century. I was just following his lead! It’s mostly evident in one part of the movie, when the characters discuss meta-fiction, saying: “It’s important that your investigation ends with a question, not an answer.” So yes, it’s noir-based, but upgraded with some absurdity.

Recently, I came across this film, The Thief, from the 1950s [with Ray Milland], which is about spies yet completely devoid of dialogue. I found it very interesting. In a classic Agatha Christie story, like the ones featuring Hercule Poirot, everything comes together, and you have this big reveal at the end. Here, there is no major reveal, and there is no major story – it’s the details that are important. I like these little poetic parts, like having one character leaving the house, assuring the other there is meatloaf and pudding in the fridge [laughs]. They are more valuable than this whole chase. To be honest, I have never been that interested in telling stories. I prefer to deconstruct them and build them again from scratch. Like a collage! My films are like alternative music, like Sonic Youth, for example.

All of these scenes, personal memories and impressions, or stories like the one about a village living in perpetual fear of avalanches, causing its inhabitants to speak in hushed tones – are they based on your own life?
Actually, that story is a reference to Guy Maddin’s Careful, which was about the same thing. Some of it was subconscious, but we used to live in a village, my wife and I. It was very Tarkovsky-like – we had to chop up wood to warm up the house, there were icicles hanging from the roof and a forest like in that Ursula Le Guin novel The Word for World is Forest. We used to joke about it. We had a little baby, so we would rarely venture into civilisation, and after a while, I almost forgot there were cities and trams, and airports. It’s something that’s repeated in the film, like a mantra. The whole thing started when, one evening, I wrote down that line: “The cigarette ash column between her fingers is about to crumble.” There was some anticipation about it. “It’s about to crumble, so what will happen next?!”

I was born in 1974, and I remember watching European films that you had to “endure” – they were slow and confusing. Now, I adore this kind of cinema. Like Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, where he showed a group of people unable to leave after a dinner party, never really explaining why. We live in puritan times, and what used to be normal is now considered experimental, like Last Year at Marienbad. It bothers me. We want to slap a nice, lean narrative on everything and, especially when shooting fiction, worry so much about plausibility. But here, I could do anything. This kind of medium is neither an animation nor a serious feature film, so give me some freedom to play!

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