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"Transcendental" new film by Saidin Salkic WAITING FOR SEVDAH, review by Bill Mousoulis

BY Tara Strong | 13-Jun-2017
After the ambitious, grand-scaled Manifesto of a Defeated Poet, which has its beauty but also its flaws, Saidin Salkic’s new film Waiting for Sevdah is such a pure delight that it must rank with his 2nd film Konvent as one of Australia’s best films from the past 10 years.
After the ambitious, grand-scaled Manifesto of a Defeated Poet, which has its beauty but also its flaws, Saidin Salkic’s new film Waiting for Sevdah is such a pure delight that it must rank with his 2nd film Konvent as one of Australia’s best films from the past 10 years.

Salkic is no ordinary Australian filmmaker of course – especially since he has come from a different culture. But he now sits within the ranks of the great Australian underground filmmakers currently working, such as Mike Retter, Mark La Rosa, Richard Tuohy, David King, a small list of active filmmakers considering Australia’s rich heritage of indie/experimental/underground filmmakers.

Waiting for Sevdah was shot and edited quickly, as a catharsis for Salkic, and I believe its strength lies in its simplicity and intuitive expression. Skirting modes such as the silent film, surrealist film, and experimental film, Salkic utilises a simple narrative framework (a man is waiting for someone) and fills it with such primal joy, and primal anguish, that you leave the film awe-struck at the transcendental effects it produces with such minimal means. It’s the “less is more” school of filmmaking, but sometimes that school can indeed produce “less is actually still less” films.

Waiting for Sevdah

You see, you can have landscape and place (with its alienation, or safety, etc.), and that’s fine, but when you can find, and push to their extremes, human personalities and their emotions, then you’re onto something. So we have Salkic himself as a presence, in his art-dandy outfit. But his face explodes with unbridled emotion, as the black-wearing artist meets … a young girl, his daughter, who is like any other young girl, full of life and love, for her father.

In this empty suburban context, Salkic lays a cinematic spell, as we see stillness intersect with movement, the dormant world with human agency, waiting with rapture, and life with death ultimately. In the end, Sevdah leaves, and Salkic is left pondering – “There goes another beautiful day in the suburbs, but I’m afraid I’m not as young as I was … yesterday”. The joke gives way, and we realise that each day is precious, each moment that we interact with someone and take joy in them is ephemeral yet real, very real, and you have to take that moment. It’s what we take with us to our grave, after all. Salkic has captured this on film.

– Bill Mousoulis, May 2017.