ORBITALNA

/Marcin Malaszczak, 2014 (25 mins)

still from ORBITALNA, a film by marcin malaszczak. world premiere 64th Berlinale (Forum Expanded), february 2014.

synopsis

Surrounded by a seemingly endless night, machines are formed from constellations of lights that effortlessly dig in an undefined space. During the day, a conveyor belt comes into motion, as if by itself. Its ear-splitting working and shaking is observed and controlled by a woman. She circles around the conveyor belt, ridding the foundation of clumps of dirt that have fallen off. Her Sisyphean task is supervised from time to time. When she sees the supervisors coming, she informs the others and goes to inspect the conveyor belt. At this moment, the circlings and observations of the machine, the work becomes an end in itself. The human being as the maintainer of the machine. Astonishment takes the place of understanding.

note

In Orbitalna the relationship between man, machine and nature is a productive, but dysfunctional and ultimately alienating one. The natural order has been perverted. Nature is barren, hostile – harvested by gigantic industrial apparatuses and the humans that tend to them. This appears to be the existence of a humanity, whose mastery over nature has led to their own enslavement and alienation at the hand of these machines.

In a 1961 essay, Erich Fromm explores Marx’s concept and how capitalist ideas of production dehumanize and alienate mankind from the world constructed. In Orbitalna, there is much toil from both machines and men, but no discernible end product of this labour – no object to fetishize – a Sisyphean task. The only product-objects, so to speak, are the machines themselves: The very things created by human hands and the very products that hold their humanity at one remove. In Orbitalna it is not the humans who operate the machines, rather they function as fleshy components, becoming a codependent appendage of the machine.

This mundane existence, this ‘reality’, is captured through documentary-style cinematography, then rendered otherworldly by Malaszczack’s aesthetic choices. The physical world is abstracted through a heightened color palette - its vivid, saturated greens and yellows suggestive of alien worlds or poisoned landscapes. An incessant, pulsing sound – industrial and synthetic – further estranges the viewer, dislocating the senses.

As with Malaszczak’s earlier feature film Sienawka, there are references reminiscent of science-fiction movies. The world is both recognizable and unrecognizable to us. This could easily be read as dystopian vision of the future, yet it takes place in our present.

Through Malaszczak’s camerawork the gaze of the spectator is first decontextualized, then frustrated. Humanity becomes literally obscured by the machines it serves, and a sense of powerlessness and alienation results. Through restless scanning camera movements, the human becomes fragmented visually, potentially echoing the process to which Marx saw working man subjected by its dominant, exploitative producers.

Orbitalna challenges the viewer in a cinematic way to confront elements of contemporary existence. Through the film's use of cinematography, the spectator is offered the chance to transcend this existence, through use of the imagination and through attentive and engaged viewing.

/Steven Williams

biography Malaszczak

* 17.05.1985 Kowary (Poland)

Born in Poland, Marcin Malaszczak immigrated to West Berlin with his parents as a child.
He studied Film Directing at the German Film and Television Academy (dffb).
His first feature length film “Sieniawka” premiered at the 63rd Berlinale (Forum) in 2013. It won several awards including the Best First Film Prize at FID Marseille and the ARTE Documentary Film Prize at the Duisburger Filmwoche.
"Orbitalna" had its World Premiere at the 64rd Berlinale (Forum Expanded) 2014.
“The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills“ had its World Premiere at the 65th Berlinale (Forum).
Marcin has co-founded the film production company Mengamuk Films in 2012.
Marcin currently lives and works in Berlin.

Selected Filmography

2015 The Days – mins / DCP / 1:1.33
2014 Orbitalna (Orbital) – 25 mins / DCP / 1:1.85
2013 Sieniawka (Sieniawka) – 126 mins / DCP / 1:1.85
2010 Der Schwimmer (The Swimmer) – 29 mins / Digibeta / 1:1.66

media (press)

press texts, film data and flyer download (.zip)
press kit download (.pdf)

articles:
Perlentaucher, TAZ, Tip Berlin, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

festivals

2014

Berlinale, Forum Expanded / WP
6-16 February 2014

Biennale des écritures du réel
13 March-12 April 2014

goEast
9-15 April 2014

Primeiros encontros, Rio de Janeiro
25-27 July 2014

Underdox 9. Filmfestival für Dokument und Experiment München
9-16 October 2014

16e FESTIVAL DES CINEMAS DIFFERENTS ET EXPERIMENTAUX DE PARIS
11-26 October 2014

Duisburger Filmwoche
3-9 November 2014

credits

CAST
Bogna Dobrzaniecka
FILMMAKERS
Director & ScreenplayMarcin Malaszczak
CinematographyMarcin Malaszczak
Sound EngineeringLeo Robin Knauth, Tobias Rüther
EditingMarcin Malaszczak
Color GradingJorge Piquer Rodriguez
Sound DesignJochen Jezussek
Sound Mixing/MasteringJochen Jezussek
Assistant DirectorSteven Williams
Assistant CameraKristina Paustian
Post-production coordinatorMichel Balagué
ProducerMarcin Malaszczak