Documentary: Limitless Landscapes

A beautiful road trip with photographer Eliseo Miciu as he sets out to capture Patagonia’s moving soul. “You drive and drive and wind is the constant. Wind defines the landscape.” Laura Belinky’s Land Of The Wind is a Documentary screening at ASFF 2017 as part of A Hard Day’s Night reel.

ASFF: What do you think is the importance of film festivals in today’s cinematic landscape?
Going to film festivals is the best way of seeing what is being produced out there in a short period of time. Good programmes give us a panoramic view of the year’s audio visual landscape in terms of format, technique and content. Seeing what other filmmakers are doing, getting to know them personally and finding out details of the process of making each film is a fantastic way to get inspiration.

ASFF: When did you begin filmmaking, and what influenced you to start?
LB: I began filmmaking when studying journalism at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. On the third year of the course we studied the history of documentary films, and I became completely involved in the practical projects of that discipline. That was when I realised I wasn’t interested in working on daily news. I wanted to dig deeper and have more time to understand topics and hone messages. This was also the time when I found out that, for me, the collaborative work of filmmaking is much more rewarding than the individual work of writing news; the sum of different competencies sometimes multiplies the quality of a project.

ASFF: How did you begin the process of making your film, where did the idea come from?
Theo (Land of the Wind‘s cinematographer) and I were hiking in Patagonia in the austral summer of 2016 and I was transfixed by the dreamlike beauty of the place. Patagonia is a magic land. The bittersweet loneliness it imposes on its inhabitants and visitors along with its poignant beauty gives those who experience it an overwhelming wish to be there and share those impressions with others.

We then went to the home town of the photographer who would soon become our film’s protagonist.  In San Martin de Los Andes the film’s idea started to take shape drawing from the photography project Eliseo Miciu had been working on for five years. For Tierra del Viento, his homonymous photography book, he’d been depicting the effects of the wind on the life and land of Patagonia, documenting and interpreting this elemental force that shapes everything there. After getting to know his work we thought we’d join competencies and share our common passion for that remote land through a combination of our audio-visual and his photography languages.

It might be worth mentioning that Theo had known Eliseo Miciu, the film’s protagonist, for many years and was always drawn to his charisma, generosity and approach to life. When I met Eliseo seven months before we shot the film, we agreed that his story deserved to be shared. His personal journey of maturing as an artist became one of the film’s narrative lines bringing elements of struggle, achievement, and creativity that we felt a lot of people could identify with.

ASFF: What do you think is essential for a film within this genre, and how does yours reflect this vision?
In my view, the most important thing in any film is that it flows. That it creates a coherent universe that immerses the audience in the experience of watching it.  We have worked hard to achieve that in the combination of the many elements that compose Land of the Wind – cinematography, photography, music, sound, editing – and hope to have succeeded!

ASFF: What is the narrative behind your short?
LB: Our short film’s main characteristic is its aesthetic quality; the beauty of its cinematography and stills are what we hope will linger in people’s minds.  However, on an underlying layer, Land of the Wind is a film about conviction. Whilst growing up Eliseo never knew anyone who had the job he now has – at least not in Argentina. In turning into the only Patagonian photographer who lives solely out of his fine-art photography work, Eliseo has in a sense created the place he wanted to inhabit in that landscape. He decided to pursue his passion despite having no evidence that making a living out of it was possible, and the film follows him as he finalises his first solo art book which felt to him as a big signpost of this achievement. In a world that needs reinventing, we hope that his story goes to show that with vision, courage, and lots of persistence it is possible to live what one believes in.

ASFF: Why do you think short film is so important as opposed to feature films, or other artistic mediums?
I think there is a place, and growing one, for short films. More and more of them are being watched online by people every day or every week, and I feel that the form is being developed and becoming very varied and rich. Some ideas are very concentrated and can be grasped in seconds. Others are too intense for an audience to be exposed to them for too long.  Some are simply short stories, and a short time is all that is necessary to convey them elegantly.  This does not detract in any way from the value of the feature form; there are ideas best told in a long span of time as some worlds and states of mind need many minutes to be constructed.

In a more practical way, from an audience’s perspective, one of the great things about shorts is that they do not require a big-time investment. People don’t need to plan their afternoon around watching a short as they might need to if they want to watch a feature. In that way, I feel that through short films audiences are more likely to be exposed to more varied worldviews, as this format does not require such a serious commitment of time. People are willing to risk more and watch a short without any previous research. That can hardly be said about features.

ASFF runs 8-12 November. For more information or to book tickets:

To view the full programme online, click HERE.

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1. Trailer for Land Of The Wind. Courtesy of Vimeo.