Where is an image born? Is it always in our minds? Or is it from an object that exists outside our heads? If it is the latter, do we go to them or is it rather that images find their way into us? We have found an answer to this question when choosing an image (or, rather, having an image choose us) for Punto de Vista 2017 – a bird of the species Sylvia atricapilla, or Eurasian blackcap, in a recumbent position, life flowing out of it, its eyelids sealed, its wings still warm, its head twisted, as a forensic scientist would describe it.
But let’s go to the tale, which has always played a key role to Punto de Vista. We have never been fond of bare images, icons without a story, posters for their own sake. And this image had alluring entrails, filled with mystery, posing questions without answers. This brave bird came to us to become the Festival’s image and icon; it fought for it till the end. We have been unable to dismiss its ultimate sacrifice. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a kamikaze pilot can persuade even the most incredulous terrestrial observers and we, who trust signals (especially when they come from the sky), were seduced by its unbending logic. The explanation is as follows.
With the Festival’s designer, we were discussing the image that should illustrate the next edition, dedicated to flight and flying. We had rejected a few, on the grounds that they were not powerful enough or they did not embody the concept accurately. Our brainstorming session was coming to a standstill, when our image for this year hit our designer’s window: the blackcap, having lost its bearings, came to drag us out of our indecisiveness when it crashed head-on against the window with a thud – a post-mortem blow wrapped in clarity and mystery at once. This raised the question I started with: Do we go in search for images or do they just come to us? In this case, the answer is self-evident. It is reverse flight, from the image to the imagination – the move against the tide that is a hallmark of Punto de Vista. Right from the beginning, we have embraced alternative roads and made way for unexpected realities. Standing by our principles, we cannot reject this image, the way it burst into our discussion and, from there, into the Festival’s imagery.
When the muses must blow some inspiration into you, and you are deaf as a post, they must make an emergency entry, eager as they are to enter the scene. If until now Punto de Vista has had its own saints, now it has a martyr too – a hero whose heart exchanged its own beating for its presence in our Festival in March, to become the representative of our heavenly ideas on Earth. This 14-cm tall blackcap, a fly catcher and sky raider – plumage without blemish, all-dark cap – gave us a dead-end bird’s-eye view of the Festival’s tale for this year. This year, our theme is the desire to fly. The film programme will lift us to the sky so that we feel the wind and stare at the clouds. It will tell us of the adventures of aircraft, falcons and other air creatures. It will launch us into orbit after the need to leave the Earth for a while and feel as light as a feather. Punto de Vista 2017 will be about flying, just like Punto de Vista 2015 was about islands or Punto de Vista 2016 was about time. Our birdy poster invites us to take a trip in the air – a trip not without contradictions. The blackcap’s truncated flight illustrates what we talk about when we talk about flying, precisely because it is truncated. Flying hides the man and his questions. In the words of the poet, ‘Winged death is like dying twice / For it brings down to earth what should but brush past it.’
To round it off, we could say it all boils down to cleanliness. When talking about our dear aviator with the designer, I told him, ‘All this has happened because your windows are too clean. They seem not to be there, as if the whole space were filled with air.’ I was right. Without this transparency, we would not have got this magical gift. From now on, our desk staples – pens, pencils, erasers, scissors, notebooks, after-design tools – should include window cleaner. It is the only way of working the miracle again. We have to be ready to welcome those who are more determined than we are to fly towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
Before ending this text, I have a new question: Who is the author of this image? It takes us back to the beginning. If it is the image that found us, the author is no-one but the bird. The blackcap is thus the copyright owner. We only scanned the feat. There is no photo here. No portrait. Just a real body. No wonder, then, that this year’s poster shall carry no signature. The image is the signature. The bird is the author. As in an electronic document, the scanner highlighted the physicality, the materiality of the image. Ours is a documentary film festival. There is nothing like fiction in it. It is a bird, a real bird, a bird in flesh and blood, a bird with wings and feathers and a beak. A bird we can touch. A bird we can feel. A bird we can live.