If you were in Reykjavík last summer, you may remember a massive wall of kids grinning at you from a downtown corner. No, that wasn’t some kindergarten’s graduation announcement, but rather an extensive art project by two Polish photographers, Anna Leoniak and Fiann Paul. Their project was documented by director Cezary Iber in the film Dialog, now screening at the Green Light Film Festival until May 6th.
Anna and Fiann spent the better part of two years creating this deeply personal work that brought them together as much as drove them apart. Their goal was to achieve all forms of dialogue, within themselves, between each other and with the subjects of their photography. Particularly, they chose pre-school aged children as their topic, trying to re-capture the feeling of being a child. For about a month they travelled to daycares and pre-schools all over Iceland, even to the tiniest villages to get as many photographical subjects as possible. They encountered the staggering beauty of the land and were deeply marked by the people they met.
But it wasn’t all jelly beans and giggles. For starters they carried out their Icelandic road trip in the dead of winter, as if Icelandic road conditions weren’t sketchy enough in less terrifying seasons. Perhaps the two were unprepared for the possibility, but the weather had her way with them. One scene in the film finds Anna and Fiann stuck in their vehicle overnight, seeing other cars completely buried under the snow and wondering if anyone would come rescue them. Not going to drop any spoilers, but they made it to post-production.
Their personal limits were tested as well. As their inner children awoke, so did they regress in their social development and behave as such. Their close bond was pushed to a breaking point, as children are known to do. As anyone can remember, the most wonderful and painful experiences with friends occur at the earliest age, and the smallest of things can damage a friendship for good. This was only enhanced by the fact that these two were actually adults. Whether their friendship could be salvaged after this experience is the real question.
Dialog is a film showing the power of human bonding, introspective discovery and innocence, both lost and found. Plus it’s full of pretty shots of this scenic country and adorable smiling kids mugging it up for the camera.