×

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

“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.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    Film News Roundup: Stephen King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Movie in the Works

    In today’s film news roundup, a Stephen King horror movie is in the works, “Downton Abbey” is seeing strong sales and a project about Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson is in development. KING ADAPTATION Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” has been set up as a movie at George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Matthew Modine Accused of Violating Labor Laws With Campaign Videos

    Matthew Modine has been accused by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris of violating federal laws in his campaign to unseat Carteris. The production of three campaign videos for Modine by the for-profit New York Film Academy — on whose board Modine sits — has been blasted by Carteris for alleged violations of federal labor law prohibiting [...]

  • Ready or Not Movie

    'Ready or Not,' 'Angel Has Fallen' Enter Box Office Race

    Three more contenders are joining what has lately been a hostile box office arena. Can anyone emerge from August victorious? Fox Searchlight’s “Ready or Not,” a black comedy about a diabolical game of hide-and-seek, will debut in 2,244 North American theaters on Wednesday. The low-budget film is expected to earn upwards of $6.5 million over [...]

  • Rules Don't Apply

    Warren Beatty and Arnon Milchan Settle Suit Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Arnon Milchan and Warren Beatty have settled their two-year legal battle over the disastrous release of “Rules Don’t Apply,” Beatty’s period drama about Howard Hughes. Milchan’s attorneys have filed a notice with the court dismissing his suit against Beatty. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Milchan’s company, New Regency, sued Beatty and other investors [...]

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a

    Bolsonaro LGBTQI Outburst, Subsidy Freeze, Stirs Outrage

    Ramping up the drive into censorship in Brazil, its Minister of Citizenship, Omar Terra, has suspended a call for applications for governmental TV funding – until new criteria are established for its application. The country’s secretary for culture, Henrique Pires, who reports to Terra, has resigned in protest of the incentive freeze. The suspension, for [...]

  • Adam Brody'Ready or Not' film premiere,

    Adam Brody to Executive Produce, Star in 'The Kid Detective'

    “Ready or Not’s” Adam Brody has signed on to star in “The Kid Detective.” Sophie Nelisse will co-star in the dramedy from writer-director Evan Morgan. Brody will star as a once-celebrated kid detective, now 31, who continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity until a 16-year-old client (Nelisse) brings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content