Monday, January 02, 2023

On ne sait jamais / You Never Know

Victoria Schultz: On ne sait jamais / You Never Know (US/FR 2022) with Hande Kodja (Iris). Loc: Maison Louis Carré. Black and white in scope. Please click on the image to enlarge it.

Ei sitä koskaan tiedä.
    US/FR © 2022 VivaVision / Kafard films. Filmantiq. Producteur excecutif: Paul-Anthony Mille.
    Un film de Victoria Schultz, réalisatrice, productrice. Scénario: Victoria Schultz avec Pierre Mille. Directeur de la photographie: Paul-Anthony Mille – 35 mm – noir et blanc – scope. Assistants caméra: Nicolas Fouques, Juliana Vélez. Chef electro: Erwan Robert-Thomasson. Chef machino: Joseph Geremia. Ingenieur son, mixage, bruitage: Juste Bruyat. Chef maquilleuse: Natalia Vélez. Maquilleuse: Eva Goarin. Effets: Natasha Lopez. Couturière: Pinrawan Pimpimarn. Régie: Félix Louf, Stéphane Colle. Montage: Lisa-Lou Villemain. Assistant production, comptable: Ilhem Sadji. Étalonnage: Erwan Robert-Thomasson.
    Loc: Maison Louis Carré (architecte: Alvar Aalto).
Iris / Hande Kodja           
Alex / Milan Marsauche
Olavi / Jonathan Pineau Bonetti
Aino / Ronia Ava
Vera / Chantal Hecaen  
Leo / Nick Mancuso  
Roger / Olivier Che
Mauricette / Mauricette Gourdon
Ilona / Li Krook
soldats / Stéphane Colle, Olivier Le Montagner
animaux / Ronia Ava, Li Krook, Natasha Lopez, Felix Louf
barman / Jean Peyrelade
    Bande sonore:
"Kevätyö" de Selim Palmgren / Henri Sigfridsson, piano.
"Saharan uni II" ; "Sähkösoittimen ääni #1" ; "On-Off" ; "Virsi" ; "Inventio" ; "Antropoidien tanssi" ; "Preludi II" / Erkki Kurenniemi, compositeur.
"Lapsuuden toverille" ; "Karjalan kunnailla" / Iiris Tarnanen, interprete
Appels aux vaches en Carélie / Vilma Jää
"Säkkijärven polkka" / Aurélien Lehmann, accordéon
"Valse lente Op. 3" de Oskar Merikanto / Ossi Tanner, piano
    Fiche technique:   
Kodak Vision 3 ; Kodak Double X .
Arrican LT ; Arrican ST ; Arriflex 2C.
    70 min
    Versions: French version and English version. Subtitle options: English, Finnish, French.
    Private Vimeo link of the French version with English subtitles viewed at home in Lappeenranta, 29 July 2022.

AA: Victoria Schultz was born in Finland but has worked all her life in the United States and France and established independent production companies in both countries (Viva Vision and Kafard Films). After a distinguished career as a foreign correspondent, documentary filmmaker and photographer Schultz has worked extended periods with the Finnish Broadcasting Company and the United Nations.

Recently Schultz has embarked on a new path of expression with intimate poetic quests, returning at a mature age to painful encounters of youth in the 30 minute Memories of Desire (2019), photographed mostly in stark black and white, channeling personal confessions in an Expressionist mode.

Like its short predecessor, the feature length You Never Know is a dream play, a time play and a memory play, also a case of Traumarbeit and Trauerarbeit, but the visual frame of reference is the opposite to Memories of Desire. Instead of its striking contrasts, You Never Know is painted with gentle, tender light and has affinities with 1960s European Modernism, urban studies of alienation such as the films of Michelangelo Antonioni. Instead of the Academy aspect ratio of the previous film, You Never Know unfolds in scope.

The main location is Maison Louis Carré designed by Alvar Aalto, the architect who was more than a rigorous modernist, enchanted by nature and feminine curves, favouring wave-like forms and welcoming the presence of light.

The film is anchored in the early 1960s in the life of a young woman born during WWII. We are learning to understand better that post-traumatic stress disorder does not concern only soldiers but also women conducting medical service and children exposed to war. I know that from my mother who told that her childhood ended on 30 November 1939 when she stared in the eye a Soviet Red Air Force bomber pilot in her home town Lahti.

Memory montages evoke the city of Viipuri lost to Russia and the epic masses of refugees from Karelia. Red Army soldiers rape (but don't kill) a woman who later gives the baby born from the act to an orphanage. Traces of war are everywhere. Landmines and explosíves keep getting detonated for years after the war ends. Reminding of the horrible human loss are the war invalids. Memories are alive also on the soundtrack in tunes referring to the lost Karelia as "Säkkijärven polkka" and "Karjalan kunnailla" and ancient Karelian cattle calls interpreted by Vilma Jää.

Paranoia is a recurrent theme. The caretaker Alex hallucinates about Soviets everywhere. We are anchored in the 1960s, the decade of political assassinations, most prominently that of JFK, still unsolved in the sense of what it was all about. Like in The Irishman, the news of the assassination hits us obliquely but unforgettably.

Young sexuality awakens in circumstances of a ménage à trois where mother and daughter share an interest in the caretaker, the young hunk Alex. He desires Iris but belongs to the mother. The father's clothes are still hanging in the closet (he left his wife and daughter for another woman). A convention is reversed in the sauna sequence where the male is nude and the female is clothed. The young woman's éducation sentimentale evolves in twisted circumstances of shifting affinities and loyalties.

Adding to the ostranenie is the presence of animal-headed characters, reminders of the dream space in which we find ourselves. Perhaps this is a grown-up fairy-tale.

Memories of Desire was an Expressionistic dream. The shimmering You Never Know is a lucid dream.


1969 – 1980 Freelance correspondent in NY for the Broadcasting Company of Finland (radio and TV), reporter for WBAI radio in New York City
1980, LA FRONTERA, the US—Mexican border, 1982, HOLY TERROR, the anti-choice campaign in the US, 1986, with grants from the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, NY Council of the Arts. Photos from the productions published widely.
1980 – 1987 Produced independent documentaries – WOMEN IN ARMS, women in the Nicaraguan revolution,
1988 – 1999 Staff TV documentary producer at the United Nation Headquarters in New York. Produced major documentaries on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the early 90’s – HIDE AND SEEK IN IRAQ and SECRETS IN THE SAND. They were broadcast on Nova, BBC, and 22 major TV networks worldwide.
1999 – 2002 Staff TV producer at UNMIK, the UN Mission in Kosovo. Contributed regular reports to CNN WORLD REPORT.  2000 CNN award for report on The Missing in Kosovo.
2002 – 2003 Produced and wrote the TV documentaries WOMEN IN KOSOVO, on women in rural Kosovo, and FAREWELL TO ARMS, on weapons inspections in Iraq under United Nations aegis. Both broadcast on ARTE, a European cultural TV channel.
2006 – Produced and scripted three reports from Rwanda for broadcast on CNN worldwide affiliates.
2007 – Consulted with the World Food Program on the production of SWEET HARVESTS FROM ERODED SOIL, a documentary on food projects in Rwanda.
Published article and photos on War Widows in Kosovo in womensenews e-magazine.

2005-2010 – Developed a body of photographic work – a radical departure from previous documentary work.  
2012 – Presentation of OCCUPY WALL STREET photos at “Activism and Photography” B&H event space lecture in NY.  OCCUPY photos accepted for publication in Todd Gitlin’s book Occupy Nation.  Photos from Occupy Wall Street included in a United Nations documentary on Global Youth Unemployment . Grant for OCCUPY PROJECT from Puffin Foundation.
2011 Project documenting activists in New York’s Occupy Wall Street using a 4x5 view camera until 2013.
Exhibition of portraits from Occupy Wall Street at American Library in Paris.
2016 - Photo exhibition ESCAPEES FROM THE ZOO at Heino Gallery, Helsinki, Finland. Sale of ROUGH CUT to Heino Foundation, Photo series acquired into Biblioteque National de France collections.

2019 – 2022 Production of YOU NEVER KNOW, feature film with Kafard Films
2018 - Production of MEMORIES OF DESIRE 30 minute film with Kafard Films

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