for desistfilm: Mónica Delgado

In “La Casa de Emak Bakia”, the filmmaker’s purpose seems to be to capture the search of the house which inspired Man Ray’s short Emak Bakia, filmed in 1926. Alegría moved to Biarritz, near the Spanish frontier, with just some photos, investigations about the short film’s name and the house in which Man Ray lived as only clues. But above all, a fixation for translating some motives of the historic Avant-garde to the screen seems to be his prime motivation: Automatic writing, Dadaist games, devotion for chance and the oneiric.

If the original work by Man Ray was an unclassifiable Dadaist and surrealist visual exercise, Oskar Alegría seems tempted to trust chance as well, in composing a tale that follows clues in a chaotic and non-linear way, which may seem a disadvantage. However, his film finds a proper route, where the characters’ vitality plays part of this youthfully odyssey: From a clown who acted in a Fellini film, to a 90 year old philatelist Rumanian princess.

Okar Alegría explores the ludic side of what he’s materializing in each shot : a house that appears and disappears in memory. A search that seems infructuous at moments, leads the filmmaker to different places in France that are far away from his beginning search point, or the most certain hints of his investigations. Man Ray is exhumed and his short deconstructed. Emak Bakia is given a new life as well, in the juxtaposition of this encounter after more than eighty years later, between the black and White of the 20’s and the revitalization of digital format: Kiki from Montparnasse, Man Ray’s lover, who appears in the original Emak Bakia, is impersonated by the Rumanian Princess (Maria Despina zu Sayn-Wittgestein, a cousin of Nabokov) in a sensitive act of simulation.

On one hand, Alegría leaves the course of his film to free will, letting himself be dragged by new ideas flourished during the low budget filming. On the other, he inquires into the phonetics and semantics of Emak Bakia (Leave me alone, in euskera), as it was a dead expression that, with the discovery of the lost house, was brought back to life, as in a resurrection. Alegría manages to create an lively and playful film, a product of chance in times of premeditation.

Director: Oskar Alegría
Screenwriter: Oskar Alegría
83 mins


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