Theater of Cruelty

A tribute to nothing 

A Praise of Nothing
Regissør: Boris Mitic

Boris Mitic 'In Praise of Nothing is probably the most unusual documentary you'll see this year.


If you subscribe to MODERN TIMES, you can watch the movie here

With its crackling soundtrack can A Praise of Nothing Remind yourself a bit of a movie from the beginning of the 20. century, where an old gramophone record stands and floats after the song ends. To the howling sound of a sad saxophone, the first images emerge: first the sun in need of dark clouds, then endless whiteness seen from a passing icebreaker, then a wide, deserted main road, and then a cat food advertising poster in an apocalyptic landscape. The lyrics continue: "One day, 'Nothing' sticks from home, tired of being misunderstood / it crosses eight mountains and eight seas ... / ... and arrives in our secluded valley." 

8 year, 62 movie photographers, 70 country

The hazel, smoke-and-whiskey-tarnished voice of Iggy Pop – a savage on the American punk scene in the 1970s, now a sinewy and wind-dried 71-year-old – begins his voiceover: “Finally our first date; / not sure if I arrived early or late. / I have so much to tell you, but do not yet know how; / I will not flatter you or make you bow to me. / It's never been a less exciting time / to stand behind a camera, I agree, / so let's raise this game / in a slightly different way… / We drop Talking Heads, expert analysis, special effects and cultural paralysis. / No classic twists, no deer image sequences, / no supporting roles, no side effects; / no talk of saving the world, no noble pretensions / just portraits of you and me in everyday situations / And a few lines of comments / to provide a framework for the debate / just to be sure / that you want to bite the Xover bait. »

The strange juxtaposition of images – filmed over 8 years by 62 film photographers in 70 countries – is toned down by cabaret stormers Pascal Comelade and The Tiger Lillies, and along the lyrical stanzas produced by Iggy Pop, the film lasts about 75 minutes. 

Mitic, a gracious bohemian brand of a guy – his straw-yellow hair just a little more neat than Boris Johnson's – is currently traveling around this year's festivals with his film. Ny Tid got hold of him during the Moscow International Film Festival in April, outside the Oktyabr cinema theater on the wide Soviet boulevard of Novy Arbat, and talked to him about the origins of – and work on – this strange but captivating work. 

Mitic claims he doesn't remember when he first got the idea, but as it grew, he began contacting documentary filmmakers around the world to ask them to send him their best documentary of "nothing."

When the pictures started rolling in from film photographers such as Vitalij Manskij, Nedzad Begovic, Ed Godsell, Niklas Kullström, Goran Jovic and many, many more, the film got a fascinating rhythm of words and pictures.

"I wanted to make a cinematic counterpart to the best satirical book ever written: In Praise of Folly.»
Boris Mitic 

"I distributed the images among the filmmakers as they came, anonymously, so no one knew which recordings were made by whom, and by working this way – online – the material began to take shape in a few years," says Mitic .

"Iggy Pop's participation was an inspiration," he adds. “I thought of something so special that he could personify 'my' character Nothing, and I came to think of Iggy Pop. A friend knew someone who had been part of the staff at his gaming jobs, and one led to the other. After some tactical emails and negotiation tricks from the movie world, it worked. "

Cinematic counterpart to classic satire

The indelible determination over eight years has provided a film that is both lyrical and disharmonious; at times it approaches the transcendental, although it may be too episodic to let anyone into the form of trance that I experienced when, for example, I saw Terence Maliks Tree of Life.

It is sufficient just to point out some of the wonderful images one can see in this extremely poetic and truly indescribable film: the long recording of an empty freight train rolling over a mountain pass somewhere in the eastern part of the former Soviet Union; clouds dissolving in the sunlight over a dusty row of rocks; a dog strolling around in the dirt and garbage in a slum; cows, horses and various other animals; flags fluttering into themselves in the wind; the sea washing on a sandy beach. The pictures come and go, go and come.

A Praise of Nothing is exactly what the title implies. As Mitic expresses: "I wanted to make a cinematic counterpart to the best satirical book ever written, Erasmus' humanist classic from 1513 In Praise of Folly, where Folly goes around the world claiming it is smarter to be crazy than to be smart. 500 years later, it's nothing that gets the lead. "

The movie is shown on Bergen International Film Festival 2018 (September 26 to October 4).
See also the movie's Facebook page og official website for more information.

Nick Holdsworth
Nick Holdsworth
Holdsworth is a writer, journalist and filmmaker.

You may also like