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IN THE CIRCLE

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by Andreas Gasser and Sam Strauss

grade: 5.5

Beautiful shots, dominated by the white of the snow, which does not give that classic feeling of infinite space – disorienting and distorted – but on the contrary is pleasant, perhaps because it is interspersed with the colourful jackets of the protagonists. Perhaps, the meaning of In the circle is simply this: in the end, we all move in circles, constantly searching for something. At the K3 Film Festival 2023.

On the Austrian peaks

Half an hour of extreme skiing, a sort of hymn to freestyle and to the ability to adapt to nature while searching for one’s own speed, ideally synchronising with everyday life because, in any case, we are all moving in circles. The summary of In the circle – presented as part of the programme of the K3 Film Festival 2023 – is simply this and from here there is no escape. Apart from the slight second impression, supported by the metaphor of the beautiful but inaccessible place as life path, to relate the exploits of two respectable athletes with the difficulties that mother nature imposes on us – from the high and fresh snow to the biting cold of peaks – seems however not to hold a candle to the spectacular images of an uncontaminated and breathtaking nature. OK, also the music played its part. But what exactly is the story that every film should tell?

A film by filmmakers Andreas Gasser and Sam Strauss, In the circle captures from all possible and imaginable perspectives the activities of Thomas Gaisbacher, mountain guide and extreme skier, and Luca Tribondeau, freestyler and photographer. Between a proper downhill and a spectacular off-piste among the trees, the search for thrill will lead the four protagonists to equip themselves with camp tents and heavy clothes to tackle Austria’s most inaccessible snowy peaks. All this always with a smile on their faces and that spirit of adaptation mixed with respect that only true enthusiasts know how to show.

In exactly thirty minutes of snow and heart-stopping stunts, In the circle is basically a sports film, a manifesto that is perhaps more valuable to the producer Backland Media than to the viewer. Of course, the final shot must be the calling card of a production company and its filmmakers: it is, no doubt about it. And indeed, from this point of view, the message came through loud and clear. Beautiful shots, dominated by the white of the snow, which does not give that classic feeling of infinite space – disorienting and distorted – but on the contrary is pleasant, perhaps because it is interspersed with the colourful jackets of the protagonists.

The fact is that the beautiful mix of close-ups and aerial shots captures the viewer’s attention, at least visually, until the final split screen, complete with a thank-you to Mother Nature next to the images of the four adventurers running free. What is disappointing, in my opinion, is that In the circle lacks the storytelling that is the fundamental part of a film: what are they talking about? Are they showing the exploits of two phenomenal freestylers who, in their journey of discovery through unspoilt nature, also find themselves? Maybe.

But then we come back to the starting point: this is a great essay from a technical point of view and that’s all. One cannot think that a few sentences about the beauty of travelling and discovering new things are the ultimate goal of the short film. Perhaps, the meaning of In the circle is simply this: in the end, we are all moving in a circle, constantly searching for something.

Original title: Im Kreis
Directed by: Andreas Gasser, Sam Strauss
Country/year: Austria / 2023
Running time: 30’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Andreas Gasser, Sam Strauss
Cinematography: Andreas Gasser, Sam Strauss
Produced by: Andreas Gasser, Sam Strauss

Info: the page of In the Circle on the website of the K3 Film Festival