×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Closer Look at Locarno Player, ‘Closing Time’

Taipei sets the scene for Swiss director Nicole Vögele’s meditative documentary

Switzerland’s Nicole Vögele is world premiering her documentary feature “Closing Time” in the Filmmakers of the Present section at the 2018 Locarno Festival.

Her first feature, “Nebel,” premiered in 2014 at Berlin, where it won a special mention in the Dialogue in Perspective section. It was while working on that project that the idea for “Closing Time” first came to the filmmaker.

“I was sitting in a night market in Taipei thinking, ‘Okay, there is something here, I would like to dig deeper,’” she explained in a conversation with Variety. “’There is something to find in this night-working thing they have going in Taipei.’”

“Closing Time” kicks off sometime around 3 AM on Zhongzheng Road. The early morning traffic of a 24/7 society fills each frame, revolving around the Little Plates with Rice restaurant, located on a multi-lane street beneath a major freeway overpass. It’s in this humble red-eye eatery that Mr. Kuo and his wife Mrs. Lin spend nearly all of their time, working at night and sleeping during the day.

Closing Time

Popular on Variety

“For me, it was very important to see them the way they see themselves,” Vögele pointed out. “They are consumed by their work. When you do this kind of work every night there is no energy for anything else.”

That nocturnal, non-stop lifestyle is shared by taxi drivers, shop workers, cleaners, arcade owners and the tattoo artist from across the street, who experience the restaurant as a place of refuge.

Vögele freely admits that it’s not an easy film, especially if one is expecting narrative or exposition. That doesn’t mean, however, that she thinks its reach is necessarily limited.

“I realized with my previous films that people are much more open to these types of movies than I once thought,” she reflected. “This one is for anybody that is open and willing to sit down and switch off the things running through their brain and go into the space of experience rather than expecting a narrative. It’s for people who are able to create their own narratives.”

The meditative nature of the film plays out in the colors, sounds, animals, storms and purple twilight skies, ever-present in the sleepy world of its characters. The camera rarely moves, and entire scenes play out in one Super 16-lensed sequence shot.

When asked about building a career outside of her native Switzerland, the Berlin-based director gave an answer that was as candid as her filmmaking.

“For me, it’s not important if I shoot a film in Taipei or in Zurich,” she said. “I think what really interests me is a really deep humanistic thing. Why are we here? What is human? I think that it’s not important where you do that.”

More Film

  • The Champion

    Italy's 'The Champion' Picked Up for France Ahead of De Rome a Paris (EXCLUSIVE)

    French distributor Destiny Films has acquired rights for France to Italian soccer dramedy “The Champion” from Italy’s True Colours in the runup to the De Rome a Paris festival and confab, which kicks off Friday. Produced by Matteo Rovere’s Groenlandia (“Romulus”), “The Champion” turns on the uneasy relationship between a young male soccer star and [...]

  • Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) is

    AACTA International Awards Nominations Favor 'The Irishman'

    Netflix’s “The Irishman” garnered the most nominations for the Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts International Awards. It picked up six nods, ahead of five for “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” and the four each for “Joker,” “Bombshell,” and “Parasite.” AACTA’s international awards seek to “(honor) the best achievements in film excellence, regardless [...]

  • Prince Dead

    'Purple Rain,' 'Clerks, 'She's Gotta Have It' Added to National Film Registry

    “Purple Rain,” “Clerks,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Amadeus,” “Sleeping Beauty,””Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Last Waltz” are among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. The list also includes 1944’s “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman in an Oscar-winning performance; the 1955 film noir “The Phenix City Story,” [...]

  • 6 Underground

    Michael Bay's '6 Underground': Film Review

    If “6 Underground” were opening in theaters, you’d want to be sure to get there on time. Within the first six minutes, Michael Bay destroys a plane, a motorcycle, three cars, countless pedestrians, and the dignity of three Italian nuns. I’m fairly certain that Ryan Reynolds — who heads up the film’s off-the-grid vigilante squad, [...]

  • Juliette Binoche (L) and Catherine Deneuve

    Macao Festival: Juliette Binoche Tells 'The Truth' About Acting

    It’s hard for Juliette Binoche to think about her recent career trajectory from a bird’s eye view as she hurtles along within it. She has put out five films in the past two years. Her latest is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s French-language drama “The Truth,” which is getting her Oscar buzz for her role opposite Catherine Deneuve. [...]

  • Kathy Bates Walk of Fame Honor

    Kathy Bates Erroneously Submitted for Lead Actress in SAG Awards Race (EXCLUSIVE)

    If dark horse awards contender Kathy Bates is absent in the best supporting actress category come tomorrow’s Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, don’t be too quick to put in on her performance in “Richard Jewell.” A clerical error was made by the Clint Eastwood film’s distributor Warner Bros., an insider with knowledge of the mixup [...]

  • Kasi LemmonsNew York Women in Film

    Kasi Lemmons, Jane Rosenthal, Ann Dowd Talk Golden Globes Female Director Snub

    The absence of women among director nominees for the Golden Globes is another example of how much work remains to be done to achieve gender parity in the entertainment industry, honorees said Tuesday night at the 40th annual Muse Awards presented by New York Women in Film and Television. “Harriet” director Kasi Lemmons, “The Irishman” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content