You Are All Captains -- Film Review

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CANNES -- Twenty-seven year-old filmmaker Oliver Laxe, the Parisian-born son of Spanish parents, moved to Tangiers, Morocco, after finishing film school some four years ago. His goal was to set up an informal workshop for street children in which they would learn how to make films. The earnest, mostly disastrous result of this collaboration is Laxe's first film, "You Are All Captains" (Todos vos sodes capitans).

In the best Brechtian fashion, the subject of the film is the making of the film, and the making of the films by Laxe's students. This may sound straightforward enough, but in this film it leads to total confusion punctuated by some gorgeous but narratively meaningless shots. It must be admitted that the kids are cute, and Laxe's own camera is obsessed with close-ups of them, especially when they are paying rapt attention to him.

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The largest part of the film is shot in black and white, presumably to make it more artistic. Various montages add up to little more than completely random documentation of the kids' lives. Mostly they go through the film complaining that they haven't the slightest idea how to make a movie. Laxe also complains about how terrible his own film is, the one we're watching, and viewers may want to agree. The height of the self-reflexive narcissism comes when the ruggedly handsome Laxe films the kids complaining to other adults that Laxe doesn't really care about them.

There are a couple of good moments. One comes when the kids are filming some foreign tourists who complain that they should be asked for permission to be filmed. Another is the final shot on a blowing field of wildflowers, with the camera remaining absolutely stationary as the band of kids, following Laxe's shouted directions, moves further and further into the distance.

Venue: Festival de Cannes -- Directors Fortnight
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