Berlinale 2024: Ferrara’s Documentary Merges Patti Smith’s Artistry with the Ukraine War

At the Berlin Film Festival, “Turn in the Wound” emerges as a poignant exploration of art, war, and resilience. Directed by Abel Ferrara, the documentary uniquely combines Patti Smith’s haunting vocal performances with the raw realities faced by Ukrainians amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Patti Smithh

A Fusion of Art and Reality

The film features U.S. singer-poet Patti Smith reading works by French avant-garde artist Antonin Artaud, while on-screen, a Ukrainian soldier navigates a smoky battlefield, captured through a point-of-view camera that lends a video game-like aesthetic to the harrowing scene. Ferrara weaves together Smith’s performances in Paris with firsthand accounts from Ukrainians and grainy frontline footage from unnamed combatants, creating a tapestry of resilience and artistic expression.

Voices of Ukraine

Remarkably, “Turn in the Wound” refrains from naming its subjects, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who appears in a close-up interview to commend the unwavering spirit of the Ukrainian people. His reflection on freedom as a deeply personal and soulful right underscores the documentary’s intimate examination of the human cost of conflict.

Ferrara’s Intuitive Filmmaking

Abel Ferrara, celebrated for films like “Bad Lieutenant” and “King of New York,” shares insights into his filmmaking process during an interview within the documentary. Despite the ongoing war, Ferrara’s commitment to capturing the essence of the Ukrainian struggle and the interplay of artistic expression highlights his intuitive approach to storytelling.

A Timely Premiere

The documentary’s debut at the Berlinale coincides with Zelenskiy’s diplomatic tour of Germany and France, emphasizing the critical juncture of the war as Ukraine seeks sustained international support. Ferrara’s film not only captures the immediacy of the conflict but also serves as a testament to the power of art and leadership in times of turmoil.

In his statement, Ferrara expresses admiration for the subjects of his film, from Patti Smith’s multifaceted artistry to Zelenskiy’s humble leadership, indicating a desire to draw inspiration and learn from their resilience and dedication.

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