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It is late November and thick fog clings to the trunks of bare trees. The world has donned a chilly gloom in hollow brown shades and has sunk into silence. It is time to retreat inside yourself, time to introspect and contemplate.

A similar impulse is given to the viewer by the introductory part of the experimental short film 2045 (Rátneek, 2016). A well thought-out, refined and meditative static shots of the mountains enveloped in fog evoke a new sense of time and space. The impressive cathedrals of time remind us that outside of our daily hectic routine there exists a different rhythm to the world that does not worry about human days, hours and minutes. The quiet solitude and the omnipresence of the mighty mountains rocks our beliefs into the perishable corruptible man-made world to the very core. The moving images of 2045 confront us with something that is infinitely bigger and everlasting than our five seconds of fame on this planet.

In their short film 2045, the authors – director Maja Prelog and architect Blaž Murn, who work together in the interdisciplinary art collective Rátneek – create clear audio and visual ambients in an innovative way. Through editing and an uncomfortable, even sinister soundtrack, the ascetic shots of still life and astonishing natural phenomena change into a completely different reality; a vision of the postapocalyptic future.  The authors had patiently waited for the perfect weather conditions on different locations all around Slovenia to get the desired shot.

In the second part of the film, the time grows thicker. Steadicam is replaced by a hand-held camera, the editing becomes quicker and the images more and more chaotic. The tranquility and quietness of nature are disrupted by human fear and panic. The introduction of the human element transports us back from the timeless space into our actual reality, grounding us.

2045 defies a clear formal definition. It could be perceived as a science-fiction experimental film. It is probably the most accurate, however, and according to the authors too, to see it as a sort of a crossbreed between art video and film—one of the consequences of the film being a product of a collective, enhanced by multidisciplinary ideas.

The film’s content is also open to interpretation. 2045 offers relevant political topics to think about—from migration to the ecological crisis. On a symbolical level, it also offers a more fundamental consideration of people and their relation to the world they inhabit.

The film can be both thematically and visually linked to another piece by the said collective, the video Eurovision (Rátneek, 2014) for the group Laibach. That video was produced at the time when a big portion of Slovenia found itself in the deathly icy claws of a record-breaking sleet. The chorus of the song, Europe is falling apart, has been deep-frozen into our brains  by the incomprehensible images of deformed, damaged, broken, ruined trees and electric lines featured in it.

Almost three years later, Maja and Blaž captured the ruined forests of Slovenia left in the wake of the bark beetle in the gloomy images of their short film. Those are actually a direct consequence of the damage done by the ice cataclysm which engulfed Slovenia in the winter of 2014. 2045 thus carries with it the menacing weight of those events. At the same time, it holds a hidden symbolic message about the vulnerability of damaged and weakened society and its possibly imminent collapse. This short film is therefore not just an outstanding conceptual and formal achievement, but a relevant and vivid imprint of our reality.

This year, 2045 was in competition at the 19th Festival of Slovenian Film and the 2nd Ljubljana Short Film Festival—FeKK where it was awarded the best film among the Slovene competition. The film was produced out of sheer necessity, totally guerila-like and without any sort of external financial help. Before the screening in Portorož, the authors said that was one of the reasons for their decision to create experimentally, because they were aware of their limitations and what sort of film they could produce with what they had.

On the other hand, the complete independence enabled the authors more freedom in their creation. They were not limited by deadlines and other paperwork obstacles. The film could be realised in precisely the way they imagined it and it could take as long as it was needed. 2045 is the most charming proof that you need time to produce high quality art: time to think  of and develop ideas, time for trial and error, time to patiently wait for a rare natural phenomenon like the mass of clouds that pour down the steep mountain slope like the Maloja Snake in Assayas’ film Clouds of Sils Maria (Sils Maria, 2014). Time that makes every second of the movie count.

Ana Šturm // first published in Ekran Magazine, year LIII, 2016, November-December-January, pg. 94