One of 2022’s least likely film trends was a focus on donkeys, from Triangle of Sadness toThe Banshees of Inisherin. But just one film dared to place a donkey centre stage, boldly going where only Robert Bresson had gone before.
Anyone expecting the austerity of Au Hasard, Balthasar–an inspiration acknowledged bydirector Jerzy Skomilowski–will be roundly disabused by EO’s opening seconds, as red strobing lights bathe a circus performance. (Photosensitive viewers are cautioned). While much of Balthasar recurs in a remixed fashion–a drunken celebration, an aging chateau, beatings, gunshots, tender connection–this titular donkey’s journey eschews the allegorical for the experiential, taking us both deep into EO’s world and outwards to the cosmic.
View the full NZIFF 2023 programme at nziff.co.nz.