Kings Of The Wind & Electric Queens
France, 56 min.
Directed by Cedric Dupire and Gaspard Kuentz
Programme: World Showcase (North American Premiere)
Opening with a middle aged man boasting about how his horse is called The Electric Queen because she “electrocutes all who get in her way” along with an backlit image of the horse in question that seems to have wandered into the frame from a dreamscape, it’s immediately clear that Kings Of The Wind And Electric Queens is going to be quite an intense sensory experience. The setting is India’s annual Sonepur Fair, held under the full moon day of Kartika Purnima. It’s a massive animal market where everything from birds to elephants is traded with a mixture of boasting, pageantry, haggling, and celebration. French directors Cedric Duprie and Gaspard Kuetz wander around the fair as intrigued and non-judgmental outsiders.
During the day, stages are erected and thousands of patrons stumble in while salesman and street performers compete for attention and money. By night, the fair turns into a massive circus with rides, dancers, stuntmen, and even exorcists (hey, why not?). As the event revs up, the filmmakers’ cameras frame and spin around their subjects with an almost hallucinogenic passion. Dupire and Kuenz flip-flop between playing the role of detached spectators and stylish showmen adding to the spectacle. Their film bursts onto the screen and offers an undeniable rush as it thrusts viewers headfirst into a chaotic, beautiful, and somewhat surreal event. There might not be much more to the event or the film beyond pure spectacle and sensory pleasure, but when the results are this visceral, it’s hard to complain. If nothing else, this is guaranteed to be the only film in Hot Docs that presents motorcycle stunts and passionate haggling with equal importance and intensity.