(German and French dialogue)
A fascinating impressionistic portrait of blind Slovenian photographer Evgen Bavcar, “Pictures of a Kingdom” is a sort of yellow brick road for the mind’s eye. Docu melds its subject’s voiceover observations, helmer’s sly choice of visuals and intelligent sound design with flair and originality. Imaginative result would be an excellent classroom tool for students of photography, cinema and visual perception. Tightening in final third, which devolves into slightly indulgent repetition, could make pic a fest sleeper.
Self-described as a philosopher, aesthete and writer, “but not a photographer ,” Bavcar — who lost his sight in two separate childhood accidents at ages 10 and 11 — has been blind for 38 years, 19 of which he has spent in Paris. Since the 1980s, he has exhibited his carefully constructed photos to international acclaim.
Bavcar is an engaging raconteur whose pithy philosophizing is keenly underlined by inventive b&w visuals in the streets of Paris and Venice and inside art museums, where an inspired friend describes paintings and sculptures in terms of sounds and colors.
Emphasizing, in a playful and unpretentious manner, that cameras and lenses, as well as people, require light in order to “see,” Benedict Neuenfels’ monochrome lensing is a perfect fit. Helmer toys with focus and sometimes presents a completely white or completely black screen, effectively sharpening the viewer’s reliance on other senses. Bavcar’s eerie photos are integrated as freeze frames.
Pic, blown up from Super-16, has many dim nocturnal passages that communicate beautifully on the big screen but may register poorly on TV and video.
Winner of the Prix du Public at Marseilles docu fest, effort loses steam at about the one-hour mark during real-time episode of Bavcar photographing a young woman.