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Vancouver International Film Festival
1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 3M7
All current art is fake. Nothing is original. Still, we haven’t seen anything quite like Manifesto before. Conceived by German artist Julian Rosefeldt, the film is simultaneously didactic and subversive, earnest and playful, cynical and inspiring.
A manifesto is a statement of beliefs, principles and aims, a declaration of intent and, often, of independence. Here, the great Cate Blanchett gives voice to a baker’s dozen, from the surrealists to the Dadaists, the Communists to Lars von Trier’s Dogme 95 movement. The documents are typically declamatory, hyperbolic, and by definition self-important. But Rosefeldt has staged them in deliberately quotidian settings: a factory, a bar, an urban wasteland. And Blanchett adopts 13 different guises. In one, her address is a funeral oration; in another, she’s is saying grace before dinner to her children. The strategy punctures the pomposity of the words, and Manifesto is often very funny. But it also makes us hear these statements with renewed clarity, and in some cases, rather than undercutting the words, the visuals make them resonate and reverberate with real power.
Even so, and with all due deference to Karl Marx, Andre Breton, Claes Oldenberg, Werner Herzog and the other authors and agitators credited here, this is really the Cate Blanchett show, a virtuoso display of chameleonic acting in which she assumes different ages, classes, sexes, nationalities, you name it, all in a heady, entertaining and highly stimulating 94 minutes.