‘Thy Father’s Chair': IDFA Review

Alex Lora and Antonio Tibaldi’s US-Italian documentary premiered in foe during a Dutch festival.

Cleanliness neighbors sanctity in Alex Lora and Antonio Tibaldi’s Thy Father’s Chair, a standout among a many universe premieres this year during Amsterdam’s enormous non-fiction showcase IDFA. A claustrophobic, cautionary look into a cluttered disharmony of an ordinary-looking Brooklyn unit assigned by identical-twin Orthodox Jewish brothers, it has apparent festival interest and could clear art-house distribution — in NYC and serve afield.

Australia-born and US-based Tibaldi was obliged for several illusory facilities in a 1990s before changeable his importance to documentary. He’s given struck adult a artistic partnership with his Catalan co-director/writer/editor Lora, some 18 years his junior: a pair’s 10-minute Godka Crka (aka A Hole In The Sky) — about a immature Somali girl — competed during Sudance in 2013.

Tibaldi is credited as solitary cinematographer here, however, a pellucid clarity of his hand-held digital images providing an mocking contrariety with a filthy filth on screen. Sixtysomething twin Avraham and Shraga — a span are tough to tell apart, with their fuzzy gray beards — have, given a genocide of their relatives some years before, inadvertently subscribed to a ethos of domestic avocation famously espoused by Quentin Crisp (“There is no need to do any housework during all. After a initial 4 years a mud doesn’t get any worse.”)

But while famous bohemians like Crisp and his associate Manhattan-dweller Taylor Mead (whose Lower East Side shelter “starred” in 2005’s excellent documentary Excavating Taylor Mead) can play a oddity card, with Avraham and Shraga their predicament evidently arises from critical matters: mental illness, alcoholism, isolation, amicable atomization.

Complications revolving around an upstairs tenant — never seen here — eventually enforce a brothers to take extreme action, job in a services of a private association Home Clean Home (HCH) to arrange out some-more than a decade of what’s charitably dubbed “a neglected situation.”

“The Torah wants all to be clean, though unfortunately we veered from it,” concedes Avraham during one stage, relieved that HCH has sent a group of cleaners led by a Jewish man, Hanan. The interplay between a brothers and a professional, sympathetic, cheerful cleaners is a consistently farcical component that spasmodic escalates into attrition as their support shades into impatience, petulance, distraction and occasional obstructiveness.

A argent announcement for HCH, Thy Father’s Chair is also apart family to small-screen shows like Clean House and How Clean Is Your House?, though with larger anthropological-psychological depth, tangible consolation and high-toned cinematic craft. Dedicated to a late Chantal Akerman — who was further mostly endangered with heated inspections of domestic spaces — and orderly divided into 7 dissimilar chapters and voluntary and epilogue, it’s a indispensably repeated though fascinating and eventually confident glance into a uneasy conditions entering belated turnaround.     

Concentrating precisely on a apartment’s interiors though spasmodic venturing outward for a acquire exhale or dual of uninformed air, Tibaldi and Lora commendably eschew non-diegetic song until a shutting credits. Instead they qualification a subtly immersive soundscape that creates quite clever use of low-key susurrations — their source belatedly suggested as a grumblingly loud boiler down in a horror-movie-style cellar.

At a IDFA screenings, all of a (English-language) dialogue was accompanied by (English-language) subtitles — useful when specific Jewish vernacular is discussed, though differently remaining and distracting, not slightest since of a approach such on-screen difference pervert a visuals’ unblemished purity.

Production companies: GraffitiDoc, No Permits Produktions
Directors / Screenwriters / Editors: Alex Lora, Antonio Tibaldi
Producers: Enrica Capra, Antonio Tibaldi
Cinematographer:  Antonio Tibaldi
Composers: Bjarke Kolerus, Simon Don Eriksen
Sales: CATDocs, Paris
No Rating, 74 minutes 

 

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