Haidy Kancler’s documentary about the thawing of the dreams of three Afghan girls, under the cold sun of a falsely welcoming Europe.
Haidy Kancler, Slovenian director of her fifth film documentary, participates in the Biografilm Festival 2022 with Fusion dreams.
The film tells the story of three Afghan girls – Zakia, Fariba and Fatima – who, thanks to a European project, can be trained to become ski instructors in Bamyan. When all three have the opportunity to go to study at the prestigious ski school in Stams, Austria, to graduate, they realize that Europe is not the land of opportunities they thought they would have.
Fusion dreams: race is at the center of history, but also of all human existence
The director builds the documentary using mostly narrative language. There are few purely documentary moments. The most significant are the interviews with some Afghans in their tents, the outburst of the Austrian ski instructor Ines in favor of the car, the fragments of life in Stams’ bedroom and the audio interview with Zakia . A voiceover / inner monologue, the latter, which introduces one of the leitmotifs of the film, the situation of women in Afghanistan. For the rest, everything is well studied in terms of staging and almost nothing is based on the spontaneous relationship between the scopic apparatus and reality, typical of the most classic documentary film. From the repeated scenery plans outside the girls’ bedroom to the long shots of the Afghan and Austrian panoramas, each image is the result of a careful construction that enhances history, in terms of suspense and realism. Clearly, some situations have been rebuilt, albeit minimally. So much so that we immediately notice the different quality of those images that, on the other hand, have been extracted from the stream of reality through low-resolution digital video cameras or mobile phones. The whole operation appears as a story modulated on the topos, loved by sports cinema, of the race (here skiing) seen as the central event of a human existence: the great dream to be realized, to improve the social situation and also assert their identity. Within this structure, however, the director embeds the first-person stories of the protagonists, which, as in one Reality showthey guarantee the audiovisual representation of its history.
In Fusion dreams Kancler documents the inability of European culture to abandon its colonial paradigms
Indeed, the dynamics of reality are at the heart of the communicative strategy that Kancler seeks. From the beginning of the story of Zakia, Fatima and Fariba, the pressure for sports performance is felt, which is growing, to become a pressure aimed at the ability of girls to fit into the new context. The different stages of the adventure of the three protagonists take on more and more connotations of tests to overcome. Gradually, those who should help them, such as the NGO worker and the instructor Inés, become their judges, ready to assess not only their skiing skills, but also and above all their compatibility with Western culture. , its legal standards and labor and social efficiency. . Paradigmatic in this sense is the episode in which the three girls are subjected to physical tests that decree their inadequacy for the sport in question. Then, through training, a process of rewriting the body is implemented, so to speak, which should adapt the physique of the three to the sporting standards, but the failure of which, in fact, decrees the total incompatibility of those bodies with the Western world, marked by the difficulties of an existence devoid of the advantages offered by neoliberal democracies. Through the metaphor of physical fitness for sport, the director tells us what Europe expects of those who seek refuge in it, that is, the rewriting of one’s own body, and therefore of one’s own identity.
Europe and the West, in order to recognize those people, from non-Western contexts, even just as refugees, demand that they abandon their previous subjectivities, their roots and their culture – and keep in mind that it is irrelevant. – for the purposes of the discourse that this culture presents, in our eyes, also problematic aspects, if not precisely execrable. If this does not happen, you lose the opportunity to be part of the race, that is, to enter Europe and be returned home. Just like when on a reality show after the failure of a test or simply the rejection of the group by other participants, you are removed from the game. With the difference that, in this case, to stop being recognized as a player means to return to the status of illegal immigrant, while the home to return to is a country abused, also by the infamous war actions of The West.
Kancler’s film thus represents a document of the inability of European culture to break out of its colonialist paradigms, by which the white and Western man, or rather, being in this case the protagonists all women, the white and western woman, has the duty to emancipate and civilize women belonging to other cultures. The worst thing is that, in this interpretive framework of reality, not even the hypothetical fraternity of that apolitical feminism, beaten by the girls by Inés, manages to break down barriers, which are increasingly configured as those between two classes of human beings. completely alien to each other.