13 (Tzameti), by Gela Babluani
by Bénédicte Prot
Gela Babluani's first feature, one of the twelve movies selected for the Venice-days, is an impressionist black and white film which, as the title suggests, deals with chance as a major factor in anybody's destiny.
Sebastien (George Babluani), a young immigrant who works as a carpenter on the rooftop of a very strange house, immediately becomes not only the witness, but also the protagonist of its owner's activities. After the latter's sudden death, he finds an envelope with mysterious instructions he starts following, thus entering a deadly mechanics which unfolds implacably. When he realises he is a pawn in a cruel game where only one player survives, there is no turning back; he is trapped in a claustrophobic space where the basest human instincts are given free rein to, where the smell of blood turns all men into mad and sweaty beasts.
If the game illustrates the power people have on one another, no one prevails and its final result is completely arbitrary. Sebastien is a Kafka-ian victim whose useless sacrifice raises metaphysical questions. In fact, when he enters the game, somebody tells him ironically, 'take it with philosophy', as if any of this made sense. In 13 (Tzameti) [+see also:
interview: Fanny Saadi
interview: Gela Babluani
film profile], there is no innocent victim, the observer is as guilty as the actual murderer, and the frontier between passive and active behaviour is blurred. Babluani's film is an aesthetic variation on a universal theme (which explains why the film is not supposed to have a specific location but happens in a no man's land), the utter absurdity of life.
13 (Tzameti) is a co-production involving Les films de la Strada, Quasar Pictures, Solimane Productions, and MK2, who is also its French distributor.
(Translated from French)
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