Aga is first and foremost and in more than one respect a beautiful film.
Set in some of the northernmost reaches of the globe, couple Nanook and Sedna, absent their daughter who long since left to work in a distant diamond mine, fish, build and go about a fairly regular if strenuous routine. Tapping the arctic ice for resources which gradually prove less abundant than before, an infrequent visitor turns up at their door with news of their child.
Related in Yakut and replete with stories and allegories, Aga begins with one of the pair’s musical talents rendered front and centre for all to see, before near-turning to the camera as the events of the film soon get underway. It’s a curious choice to commence with; tonally distinct from much that follows yet none too much of a distraction. Aga is however at it’s most resonant when Director Milko Lazarov deftly allows the camera to fall on any and every terrain laid bare before us.
Uncompromising, vast and utterly mesmerising, the landscapes captured and traversed here ever so carefully by our partners deserve to be beheld on the big screen. As the recently set film moves slowly from the less pristine and natural into the more familiar, on the heels of what we’ve seen before these adjuncts, slow at first and then devastatingly abrupt, are all the more jarring.
Transfixing us to the same degree with vistas of a modern world we recognise as much for it’s habitualness as for it’s impact on that which has in such a short time been so endearingly rendered, the abundantly prevalent environmental bent of the film is conversely not heavy-handed nor the emotional rock which bears the strongest impact.
Concluding with two markedly powerful moments with visuals that each bear their own brute impact, the meditative, parable-driven narrative comes full circle in a storytelling style as effectual for its novel reliance on that which is emblematic as otherwise letting the camera, and that majesty before us, impart all we need to know.
Aga screened as part of the Sydney Film Festival
For an interview with Producer/Editor Veselka Kiryakova and Director Milko Lazarov see here