by Jan Lumholdt
- Mia Engberg takes a deep dive into a personal universe of reminiscence, time, space-travelling and found footage
Coinciding with the Sight and Sound greatest films list, the Swedish cinema magazine FLM conducts a corresponding national poll every ten years, with the last one having taken place in October 2022. Reigning unchallenged is Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage (1921), followed by Roy Andersson’s A Swedish Love Story (1970) and Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966), fully expectedly. A most invigorating laureate – namely, Mia Engberg’s Belleville Baby [+see also:
film profile] (2013) – shows up in 20th place, which is no mean feat for an intimately personal “autofiction” essay film concerning two old lovers reuniting over the phone, accompanied by small-gauge images and contemplative discussions on an eclectic variety of topics. Ten years later, and after her sequel Lucky One [+see also:
interview: Mia Engberg
film profile], Engberg now completes her “Belleville trilogy” with Hypermoon [+see also:
interview: Mia Engberg
film profile]. Just like the two previous entries, it’s world-premiering in the Nordic Documentary Competition of the Göteborg Film Festival.
For those already familiar with/invited into Engberg’s universe, the tone of Hypermoon is immediately recognisable, with detailed dissertations on Mia’s old suitcase gramophone and a definition of one second of eternity involving a bird and a mountain – already before the opening credits. A hospital visit follows, which will “divide time into a before and an after” as a serious diagnosis will affect our narrator. New plans are made, old ones cancelled, including a film shoot (for a version of part 3 that we will never get to see?). In lieu, Mia considers an entirely black film, using only voices. Vincent calls from Paris, and he and Mia reminisce about their first encounter – at a catacomb party. The images of 1990s Paris that serve as a backdrop to their conversation undoubtedly look and feel like another time and place, and were probably shot around the same time as some of Mia’s old film rolls that Vincent has just found in an old box in the basement. Suffice it to say, there’s footage here to replace and fill our black screen with all sorts of colours.
Moreover, Vincent’s “found footage” actually contains images of Vincent himself for the first time in this trilogy. We’re also introduced to the director’s offspring, a teenage son and a twentysomething daughter, providing solid everyday joy and comfort between hospital visits. Arguably, Hypermoon can be seen as Engberg’s most candid film, displaying her loved ones as well as her personal ailments – all done with dignity and taste, as well as some low-key humour. Other big and small treats include a deep dive into the story of Valentina Tereshkova, the first female cosmonaut, a Sun Ra poem about building a world of abstract dreams, a cameo mention of Baby the cat, a blue Derek Jarman poster, a cool fluffy monkey, a spectacular Édith Piaf interpretation by Grace Jones and the gripping story of Mia’s grandparents, who won the local balcony decoration competition two years in a row. Although the black-screen option was thankfully never realised, Engberg could probably have kept some of us captivated with such a scenario as well.
Hypermoon was produced by Swedish outfit Story AB.
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