Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Pregnant - Directed by Fabrizio Federico: 2015 Review


Adam Legshy

In Fabrizio Federico’s previous film, Black Biscuit the main character of the highly strung man-child named Chet, who was intent on ‘’making it’’ as an aspiring independent filmmaker, by fighting through the haze of his hustler, sex driven, narcotically depraved friends - who all posses no ambitions in life, seems to have come true, especially since the character was played by the director himself. In Pregnant, Federico’s second feature film, he navigates us through todays social media generation of our brand new and highly unpredictable young 21st Century.
Federico’s films resemble a Robert Altman cast of the lost and grotesque of society. Dreamy characters we see in our own social circles and families. Protagonists and themes dip in & out of the film at random, whenever the mood strikes them ‘’there isn’t  any main character, just a crowd of lost souls. I wanted it to be unreliable like life’’ Federico says.  Pregnant’s plot revolves around a stranger putting a mysterious VHS tape into a video player and pressing play. In that respect the film is a journey through this themed mixtape of scenes depicting the wasted world of lost souls chained to their laptops, bored anarchists, a desert drifter slowly dying of thirst, a drug soaked clubland shaman, and a burnt out psychedelic  crazy diamond philosopher. This society devoid of any careerism or ambition mixed within scenes that teleport us alongside vivid euphoric gap sequences of bungee jump divers, girl on girl makeouts, cartoons, a possessed choir singer and burning buildings that conduct the film along. In a beginning title card Pregnant boldly calls it’s self a Pop Symphony For Film, meaning a trip. This film reminds me very much of the phenomenon that greeted  either Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey or Performance by Donald Cammell, when the film’s audiences would smoke marijuana or take LSD when they sat down to watch the movie, and look forward to taking a journey into space. The same applies to Pregnant, it is more than just asking you to simply sit down and watch the movie with a bag of popcorn. Federico demands that you take the journey alongside the movie’s protagonists, call it a drug movie, but the film will leave you thrilled if watched with an open mind.
These moments are setting the viewer up to re-live and to comprehend the feeling of  todays super speed society, and the soon possibility of man being able to download consciousness through science.  Pregnant’s non-linear structure and form go hand in hand with this concept. From  what I’ve read on the film, there was no script used, the cast don’t even seem to have names,  but what is apparent is that each character represents  an amalgamation of different mythological demi-gods mixed against modern cultural celebrities. For example, we have the nihilistic frenzy of Greek mythology personalities such as Dionysus, Cupid and Herostratus, lined up against other controversial cultural icons such as Madonna, Mark Zuckerberg  & Machiavelli in order to represent  the themes of greed, Facebook celebrity, shamanism, love, and the curious one of arson, which ties closely into Federico’s own personal life. As a child he survived a house fire in 1988 ‘’Id just recently watched Godzilla, and the fire just hypnotized me’’, and recently  was a suspected in an incident involving a major car park tower burning down, which  also happens to be the very same one we see ablaze in the film.
After watching his debut Black Biscuit I understood that the chance of Pregnant being a straight forward linear film were about as slim a chance  as seeing the Dalai Lama posing for Playgirl. Federico specializes in bringing to the screen multi layered films that work on a very unique platform trick, mixing the experimental with pop art. Certain other films came to mind when I sat and watched, movies that question and challenged both the audience and their social mores, they even question the future we are headed towards. Outlaw cinema such as Easy Rider, The Passion of the Christ, Clockwork Orange, Kids, Antichrist were all ahead of their time and were lambasted upon initial release, it’s as if these films were looking ahead and predicting into a future that was too dark for people to understand, maybe it simply scared them.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to the films ‘’streamline of punk energy and attitude’’ which Federico has in abundance. Call him the Bogus Man for all his understanding’s about the other side of human nature, especially the side which we don’t usually see during the day. The way his films have come together have inspired  a certain lunatic myth in the peculiarity brought to the art of improvising and creating in a free form mold. For example editing his films blind folded, inspiring a cult behind his film productions – he was stalked by a mental institution patient -  had his cast listened to exorcisms during filming, he has also has suffered broken bones due to wanting certain film angles – he fell out of a tree - and has had footage confiscated by the police. It’s a miracle that these films, even get made at all and that he’s still alive. Alongside the fact that they are usually shot on cheap mobile phones and children’s cameras, all for Zero budget – after all, Federico is the founder of the PINK8 manifesto which has been embrace by young amateaur filmmakers.
The film leaves a lasting impression on why finding happiness through the simple things in life, such as love, sex, death and swimming are ultimately more rewarding than becoming a victim to the matrix of the internet. It is no mistake that the film interestingly points out that Scientology is going to be the new religion of our times, suggesting that people's thirst for knowledge, especially through the internet and surfing between Wikipedia, Blogs (literally millions of them), and culture sites, that we might have already embraced Scientology as our new religion without us actually realizing it yet.
In conclusion, I will let the film’s poster quote leave you to think about it all: ''If a tree falls in the forest, but no one’s there to Instagram it, did it happen at all?''