"MEET URSULA MEIER" AT THE 35 MIFF

“MEET URSULA MEIER” IS THE TITLE OF THE RETROSPECTIVE OF URSULA MEIER’S MOVIES WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE DURING THE 35TH MOSCOW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

As a kid the French-born Swiss director Ursula Meier was fond of mathematics and practiced gymnastics. She gave up both athletics and formulas the moment she discovered cinema. Three aspects of life with their peculiarities – structural thinking, overcoming oneself and the creation of new reality – blended together. To it was added passion for experimentation and natural gift for observation. 
Following several years of studying the art of directing at the Belgian Institut des Arts de Diffusion (IDA), Ursula shot her diploma short “Le songe d'Isaac”(1994). She displayed her ability do describe a human body without a single word, using just light and shadow, camera angle and degree of zoom, music and sounds. The movie shows the last moments of an old man’s life and his dream: he is a small boy and he is standing next to his mother. This cinematic debut was thoroughly calculated by the director like a mathematical formula. There was no place for spontaneity or improvisation on set. “The director of photography drew storyboards, I wrote the soundtrack. Every sound, every noise was planned beforehand, carefully matched with the picture” – says Meier about her work. The movie attracted the attention of many international festivals and made possible the next, totally different movie. “Tous a table” eliminates the boundary between live-action narration and documentary recording of a family dinner. The author distances herself from her characters, letting them act of their own accord, merely watching them. But it is not more than an impression that Meier did not follow any clear-cut plan.

In her next movies Meier turned to childhood as the time of secrets. In her opinion it is impossible to speak about childhood using conventional means, whether it is a happy childhood (“lost paradise”) or a tragic one (with skeletons in the cupboard). The short “Des heures sans sommeil” (about the meeting of a brother and a sister following the demise of their father) – is a chamber work structured around flash-backs. The main character keeps her secrets till the last moment never disclosing anything.

The film “Des épaules solides” was a video shot for the TV series “Masculin Feminin” aired on channel “Arte”. It speaks about a young promising sportswoman. Ursula Meier studies the stubborn determinedness of the teenage girl who is set on mastering her own body to the degree of being able to subdue both the urges and the sufferings. The digital camera acts like a probe digging into dark spots. The director senses the desire of the young athlete to broaden the boundaries of what is possible for her and at the same time records her environment and its code of conduct in an almost documentary style.

In her works Ursula Meier rarely appears as a traditional narrator; she projects images as if sending light signals, blinding the viewer, while the beings captured by her inquisitive sensitive lens defy complete understanding.

Ursula Meier’s retrospective, which will take place at the 35th MIFF, will include live-actions movies as well as her early documentaries. It is a truly unique opportunity to get to know the director who is not sufficiently known in Russia, but has long been famous in Europe following the success of the movie “Sister”.