“I’m already alive with my death – the rest of the movie is all that’s left.” So Argentine-Brazilian filmmaker Hector Babenko says in a documentary that it has already tried to bring life to an end. Babenko died in 2016 at the age of 70, after surviving three decades of cancer and related complications; Directed by his widow Barbara Paz, “Babenko: Tell Me When I’m Dying” works on both Valiktikori and Valentine’s Movements, consolidating and preserving the consciousness of an artist who was terrified that his life’s work was not over. “Tell me when you tell me” may be technically the name of the first film in the foot, but an intimate wind of collaboration paints the whole monochromatic thing: at least as a portrait of a dying man trying to co-manage his own farewell, it’s so painful as a little annoying.
This short but intriguing work, the first documentary to be selected as Brazil’s official submission for the Oscar’s International Feature, is a popular choice for the country in a variety of ways – although its selection honors the legacy of an adventurous nominee instead of an academy. Kiss “. (Two more Babenco films, “Pixot” and “Carandiru”, submitted their Brazilian Oscars in their respective years.) It was unveiled at last year’s first Venice Fest, where it snatched the Venice Classic award for best film-themed documentary, “Tell Me The festival program has popped up a lot since when. I Die “: a more general sympathetic environment for its expert focus and broken style, probably than the ordinary arthouse circuit.
Any viewer familiar with Babenko’s life and work should not look at Paz’s film for primer. Even more adept people in his career can jump into conceptual loops and a reverence that basically forgets the biographical detail, instead freely extracting from first-hand observational footage, explanatory dramatization, abstract isolation in dreams, and Babenco’s own films. Even those color film clips have been re-formatted to adapt to the uniform black-and-white aesthetics of the film by constantly imitating each other, unobtrusively binding the impressions of art and life. One of the cited films is his semi-autobiographical swansang “My Hindu Friend”, starring Willem Daffo (credited as a co-producer here) as a very die-hard filmmaker in the image of Babenko, only enhancing the The-Mirror effect.
For all these complex games of perception, however, the most effective element of the film is: footage, like Babenko’s diary towards the end of his life, showcasing a significant archive of creative energy and hanging jokes during a terminal diagnosis. He openly considered his death in a camera interview and expressed concern that the documentary was intended as the ultimate moderator: there was an element of affectionate counselor at various moments where he advised his wife and newcomer on his filming technique, but was also urgent. His portrait needs to be controlled. He can’t rest until it’s right: “You’re spending extra time portraying the desire to live from the idea of making a movie.”
Elsewhere, current concerns reflect a strong, sincere reflection on his past and, in particular, his mixed cultural heritage: Born in Buenos Aires to Jewish parents of Eastern European descent, he adopted Brazil as his homeland in his youth. Yet he never felt complete acceptance there and claimed a deeper personal identity with “Outcasts” at the center of many of his films – although viewers would feel the need to discover it well from movies teasing, context-free clips. Woven into the mixture. Elegant and influential as a two-sided study of love and art between husband or wife in a short period of time, even its most disguised development has gained and says something about the relationship as well. As Hector Babenko puts it, this is basically an invitation to others, more prosciutto scholars and dockers: to remind him that his career deserves more study.