Acid Rain (Tomek Popakul, 2019)

After premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Popakul’s latest techo-infused tale reveals how equally awful and awe-inspiring rave culture can be. Somewhere in Eastern Europe, a girl called Young hitchhikes. It’s not clear where she’s going, or why she’s left, but she ends up in van belonging to psychedelic grunge punk Skinny. On a trip with no destination, and a soundscape to match its impressive visuals, they drive through differing states of consciousness and alternating grips on reality.

The van pays homage to Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters mobile. It’s a coming-of-age road movie where the kids have already grown up, but are fed up with a seemingly static status quo. Shaving heads acts like shedding skins, as the outcast duo move through woods populated by rave goblins and psychedelic puke. Through community, connection and alienation, their relationship undergoes a metamorphosis as young love goes rotten. Succinctly put by Zippy Frame’s Vassilis Kroustallis, “here it matters not what the characters see and experience, but what they cannot take anymore.”

Acid Rain takes a break from Popakul’s previous black and white palettes. The monochrome landscape is interrupted by refraction within raindrops; a kaleidoscope of UV bleeding into white noise. In conversation with London-based publication It’s Nice That, Popakul explains, “There’s a term in Polish, ‘duchologia’ (close to the English ‘hauntology’), which is about feeling nostalgia for times that you actually didn’t experience, but they are like ghosts from the past appearing in your life somehow. The noise effect makes the film look ‘retro’ although it’s very hard to pinpoint what specific past technique or material it’s trying to mimic. It’s not VHS, not polaroid. It’s made in 3D and rendered in HD, so technically it’s contemporary but I wanted it to look like some bleached out illustrated book, or a comic found in the attic.”

08 Aug, 12:00, Shtëpia e Kulturës

07 Aug, 22:00, DokuKino Plato