Mr And Mrs Gunya

Mr And Mrs Gunya


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

In 2005, Astrid Bussink made a documentary about a string of arsenic murders in a village. There was only one surviving witness, Mrs Gunya. Later, she returned to show the Gunyas the documentary, and this is the film that came of it. It starts odd, and it gets weirder.

Both of them "wanted to talk about something else". Mrs Gunya is concerned about her forthcoming eye operation, shown in detail graphic enough to make it not for the squeamish - legally blind, there's a disquieting diversion into how she's told the same story to the crews that have come to ask about the murders since they happened, though she is a witness who could not have seen them. Mr Gunya is concerned, but the "frogs in the bed were bothering him as much as the griffin".

All this before a foray into greenscreen - Mrs Gunya reinserted into footage of others filming - seated in her garden in front of a cloth pinned to a washing line, and fussed around in black and white, one of those box-car cameras large enough to rent as a maisonette churning away beside her.

Jan Schaten contributes sound and music, and it serves to put our perception of the Gunyas to the fore - in the act of watching the Gunyas, however, we start to watch the watching of the Gunyas, and it's there that the film becomes problematic. At times it succeeds in toeing an uncomfortable line between a wry awareness as to the unreliability of memory, of documentary participants, and a mocking tone towards the obviously fragile Mr and Mrs Gunya. At other times, however, it feels more like we are expected to laugh at, rather than with.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2012
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Both sight and memory are called into question in this documentary short.

Director: Astrid Bussink

Year: 2012

Runtime: 7 minutes

Country: Netherlands, Hungary


EIFF 2012

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