Sunday, February 18, 2018
Drama is Overrated
Suncica Ana Veldic is doing a documentary about herself, from her life on a farm, her job as a veterinary up to, finally, her love for film as she studies at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, where she often clashes over how to direct a film with her professor Goran Devic.
One of the best movies from Kino Klub Zagreb of the decade, "Drama is Overrated" is an incredibly fresh, playful and ironic metafilm documentary that shows that an art-film can be a fun form, as well. Just like Charlie Kaufman was frustrated with the assignment to adapt a screenplay for the "The Orchid Thief", and thus instead wrote a movie about himself writing a movie in "Adaptation", so did Suncica Ana Veldic overturn the assignment given to her to make a documentary by making a metafilm movie about herself making a movie. Unlike many authors who clumsily slipped over this self-referential task, Veldic delivers an incredibly even balancing act that is always elegant and fluent, while she at the same time spoofs the tendency of indoctrination of filmmakers by the Academy, advocating that their creativity should be given more liberty.
There are two fantastic sequences in the film: the first one is the opening scene filmed in reverse, showing how Veldic and her dog are walking backwards from the entrance into the Academy, symbolically displaying how she is a rebellious outsider who always goes "against the flow". The other one is a delicious sequence that first shows a clip from "The Limits of Control"—just to then "jump" to another level to Nikica Gilic commenting on the said clip from the film in the class—just to then switch again another level to Goran Devic looking at the said clip of Nikica Gilic and complaining to Veldic that her process of making a movie is questionable because she "cannot just randomly film professors at her class"—just to then switch again (!) to a neighbor watching the said clip of Devic on a computer screen and commenting on the whole thing. Veldic has a field day playing with the film medium, taking her frustrations out in creative ways (while she extracts weeds from her garden, she mentions that she was taught from the Academy that a "movie should be cleaned from unnecessary parts, like weeds"), while she managed to assemble a whole array of endlessly quotable lines: "I don't feel inhibited. I feel badly directed"; "Dramaturgy is overrated"; "You will never finish this film, because this film is the truth!" A nicely done playing around with structure, fun and accessible, with the only complaint being that "Drama is Overrated" feels too short with a running time of 21 minutes—the viewers would have certainly loved to see even more.