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by Jola Wieczorek
In Stories from the Sea by Jola Wieczorek we are told many different stories with great sensitivity and lyricism. The director’s camera gives us striking images made even more precious and timeless by an elegant black and white. At the Viennale 2021.
All the faces of the sea
The Mediterranean Sea and its infinite secrets. The Mediterranean Sea is rich in culture, in history, in stories. What happens in the Mediterranean Sea every day represents something unique and precious. And three of these stories, for example, are told to us by young filmmaker Jola Wieczorek in her documentary Stories from the Sea, which premiered in Austria on the occasion of the Viennale 2021.
Jessica works as an apprentice sailor on a cargo ship – the Johanna Borchard – she has already crossed the Mediterranean some thirty times and has chosen this particular profession – still considered a purely male profession – in order to emulate her uncle, who died when she was still a child. Amparo, on the other hand, comes from Valencia and has a passion for cruises. She used to travel the world with her husband on board a ship and now that she is widowed, she continues to travel alone. At the same time, on another ship – the Viva & Tanimar – numerous people travel to share a new experience, to meet people, to experience a new life.
All these stories are told to us in Stories from the Sea with great sensitivity and lyricism. The director’s camera, directed by cameraman Serafin Spitzer, gives us images of great impact made even more precious and timeless by an elegant black and white. Each story has its own characteristics, but, at the same time, each is united above all by a strong, very strong desire to find oneself in a sort of non-place, in a place that allows everyone to grow, to reflect, to find inner peace and – why not? – even to have fun.
The documentary, then, is almost like a sort of stream of consciousness. A stream of consciousness that in the first part is perfectly tripartite and then, thanks to skilful alternating editing, makes each of the three stories create a sort of chorus. A chorus that sings the melody of the Mediterranean Sea. Just like the sound of the strings of a small guitar moved by the wind while the ship is on the high seas.
Stories from the Sea needs nothing more. Even the captions are very few. The images speak for themselves and the camera follows faithfully each protagonist. The lives of each of them unfold before our eyes, and moments of hard work alternate with evenings spent in front of the computer watching the newest episode of a series, chats between friends, as well as moments of relax spent looking out the porthole, when memories of bygone days also convey a certain melancholy. Jola Wieczorek has shown in this interesting debut after a series of short films an extraordinary sensitivity and great directorial maturity. Her Stories from the Sea is a journey to distant destinations that inevitably makes us reconnect with ourselves. A breath of fresh air that amuses us, makes us reflect, and moves us.
Original title: Stories from the Sea
Directed by: Jola Wieczorek
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 86’
Screenplay: Jola Wieczorek
Cinematography: Serafin Spitzer
Produced by: Fahrenheit Films