One the most satisfying experiences when scavenging through the program for this year’s Annecy festival, is finding the rare hidden gems in the rough. The infamous Contrechamp categories is especially home to some beguiling pictures. There’s some solid hits such as On Gaku: Our Sound, which garnered the best animated feature award at last year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival. However, for the most part, the selection is essentially a “reject” pile for features that were just barely good enough to be included in the main slate. It makes sense why the category exists in the first place however. Film festivals primarily exist in favor for the market of distribution and acquisitions. It’s a convoluted business strategy. Annecy is no exception. The more films you screen, the more commotion you get among peers and collaborative networks, resulting in an influx of popularity and income. The Contrechamp competition is more of a showcase of additional material from around the globe. That isn’t to say all the film’s which premiere in this specific sector are terrible by any means.
My favorite feature I saw at Annecy this year was actually a Croatian film titled Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus that was part of the Contrechamp category. What does the title even mean? I genuinely have no fucking clue, but the film itself is visually astonishing, even if the title and the film’s content is a bit of a mouthful to begin with. When it comes to experimental features, most amateur (or in this case sophomore) feature filmmakers tend to drag their projects down to the ground with pseudo-intellectual dialogue and mind numbing accompanied visuals. Dalibor Baric’s film is no exception.
However, even though his feature essentially contains every single trope I despise about amateur experimental filmmaking in the book, there’s something so radiantly charming about the vast variety of techniques, themes, and highbrow concepts featured in Baric’s film. Imagine Jean Luc Godard’s Alphaville drenched in acid, sprinkled with every insolent and snobbish element of other famed Godard joints like The Image Book and La Chinoise. Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus is a french new throwback at its most self indulgent. Barely hinting at any sort of commentary, and more leaning towards a hybrid collage of multiple meaningless narrative footnotes, the result is strangely hypnotic and a completely satisfying vibe.
A love story, a crime drama, a tale of paranoia and constant surveillance; Baric paints his dreary world with saturated colors and characters, creating a sublime noir in the process. Time, life, and lust is warped in an unholy and essentially meaningless film about the defunct nature of totalitarianism and youthful rebellion. Clocking at a mere eighty minutes, Dalibor Baric will change the way you view cinema forever. Is this a good or bad statement? Honestly I still don’t know for myself. If one thing is for sure, it made me more tolerant of other non-narrative amateur wavelength joints.
Ambition may not always tower execution, though in the case of Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Water Rebus, the result is both a vibrant piece of animation pop art, and a pompous work of first world gratification. Watch at your own risk, though prepare yourself for something truly special.
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus screened at this year’s Annecy 2020 Festival in the Contrechamp competition