Tides: the River and its Tides

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The river tells

A visual symphony. Attending the screening of Tides. A History of Lives and Dreams Lost and Found (Some Broken) , which for non-English speakers would be Maree. A story of lost and found (some broken) lives and dreams, this effective expression, used by the director himself during the interview we had a few years ago, has come back to mind.

The director of the documentary Alessandro Negrini

Alessandro Negrini

Yes, because there had already been a very pleasant meeting between Alessandro Negrini and myself: on the border with Paradise, indeed! In other words, on the sidelines of the presentation of Paradiso, one of his previous works, in December 2011, when that exciting documentary also set in Northern Ireland was selected for the fifth edition of Irish Film Fest. On that occasion Alessandro Negrini had used a similar image to refer to the works of Knut Erik Jensen, a Norwegian filmmaker dear to both of them. For a happy retaliation we now like to use the same formula, “a visual symphony”, for the latest documentary made by an author who became, for the occasion, a real “prince of the tides”.


The story of “Tides”

We are back in the ‘Ulster. In that city that Negrini knows well and that bears two different names, Derry for Catholics, Londonderry for Protestants. Behind a very turbulent and wounded history, which has also remained etched in the toponymy. But in this case it is not what we have already seen in so many other documentaries that we want to show. On the contrary, in Tides. A History of Lives and Dreams Lost and Found (Some Broken) is directly the river that crosses that city, the Foyle, to speak; following the rhythm of the tides and borrowing her voice from a young actress, Emma Taylor, capable of ensuring a persuasive, fresh and almost childlike timbre to her river counterpart. The video camera itself often tends to identify with the point of view of the flowing waters. And this is just one of the many ideas that make the work on images and on the storyline of our dreamy filmmaker magical, poetic.

The style of the documentary

The aesthetic choices of the film lead to oscillate gracefully between past and present, between melancholy and moments of lightheartedness, as if the tide never stopped. Moreover, the director’s work on archival materials is excellent. Fragments of very different stories emerge from a more or less dated past. The first fragment recovered is pure poetry cinema. A varied and often bewitching anecdotal is then affirmed, never rhetorical or predictable even when the big trauma Troubles is recalled. In the memory of the spectator, little by little, in black and white, the jaunty looks of young women, whose emotion has been admirably captured in a dance hall by some old movie camera; and the same can be said of the very rare images of German submarines and crews waiting in the port of Derry after surrendering at the end of World War II. The past looks rhapsodically, while beautiful river views alternate to frame the memories. And also the vision of Tides. A History of Lives and Dreams Lost and Found (Some Broken) thus flows towards the conclusion, as refreshing as a gust of sea breeze.

Stefano Coccia



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