Eye For Film >> Movies >> Gabor (2013) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
This uplifting, intimate documentary from Sebastián Alfie is the sort of film that reminds you - amid a sea of issue-driven films telling us how awful various aspects of the world are - that humanity can be hopeful as well as hateful. Presented by Alfie in the first person, with winning levels of self-deprecation and comic timing, he takes us chronologically through his friendship with cinematographer Gabor Bene.
This is not a simple biography, as Hungarian-born Bene, who worked in the film industry for years, is now blind as the result of glaucoma. When Alfie secures a contract to shoot a promotional video for charitable foundation Eyes Of The World (Ojos Del Mundo) - which helps the visually impaired in poor areas of Bolivia - he decides to rent a camera from Bene. On meeting the former DoP, he is struck by how strong his visual memory is and, spurred by the desire to avoid making something that patronises his subjects, decides to persuade him to become the cameraman for the project.
The result is this, a film about shooting a three-minute film, but which has a lot more resonance than that. Alfie cleverly lets us consider perception and preconception by including conversations he has with his mum, who is a consultant in orientation for the blind. As she explains the 'right' way to go about helping Bene orientate himself aboard Alfie's boat, we see what actually happens, showing that even those who work with the visually impaired might have a thing or two to learn. Later, there's an equally uplifting sequence when Bene offers a baker who has lost his sight an alternative way of considering his position and there's a beautiful moment when Bene and Alfie exchange an eye-rolling glance, that's a natural as breathing, despite the fact only one of them is sighted.
Alfie tells us about his fears and the difficulties faced as Bene and he discuss, for example, the way a camera should move through a scene and whether the DoP is able to complete the maneouvre smoothly. What the director doesn't do, however, is tell us what to think about all this. Instead, he shows us what happens, triumphs, warts and all. Bene is a winning presence and more than a match for Alfie in the comedy department. Between them, they show that capturing the essence of something involves a lot more than simply looking through a lens.Reviewed on: 15 Apr 2016