Hot Docs: Arsy-Versy Review

Arsy-Versy

More often then not, short films can sort of get lost in the shuffle at festivals, but this year I can safely say that a documentary short is one of my favourite films of the Hot Docs festival. Arsy-Versy is a fantastically quirky and sincerely inspiring look at the relationship between a 50 year old bat fanatic and his Mother.

Director Miro Remo succeeds in crafting a film that’s simultaneously intimate and epic, pointing a Kubrickian sized lens at small story about an eccentric man, Lubo Mero, and his love of photographing bats. Although his Mother supports his creative endeavours, she also hopes that one day her son will get a real job, find a wife, and maybe move out of her house. She doesn’t seem to hold much hope though, as her opinion of the modern woman seems pretty harsh. In her eyes, Lubo has everything a girl should want, but in this day and age, it’s all about a man’s financial status and fancy cars. Interestingly, Lubo seems fairly unconcerned about such things. He’s too busy exploring the local mining caves taking extraordinary photos of bats.

Arsy-Versy contains a very heavy nod to Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film is littered with Richard Strauss musical cues, enhancing the outer worldly nature of the caves Lubo explores to document his bats. On more than one occasion, gravity is defied as the frame is rotated 360 degrees, giving us a whole new perspective on Lubo’s work. This extra-terrestrial motif is connected by a couple of clips from a 8mm home movie Lubo made as a young adult, titled ‘The Planet of the Lepidorters’. It was his proud socialist response to the American hit film, ‘The Planet of the Apes’. In this case, rather than apes, butterflies rule the planet! It’s these unusual visual flourishes that make Arsy-Versy such refreshing and stunning experience. Miro Remo isn’t afraid to bend the standard documentary filmmaking rules in pursuit of some striking images. It’s a celebration of creativity, expressed through Lubo’s photography and the cinematic playfulness of the filmmaker.

Filmmakers are drawn to characters like these because they manage to give us a different perspective on the world. Miro Remo has succeeded in crafting a sincere look at the bond between a Mother and son and the compromises made when pursuing a creative dream.

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