“With every travel, it is very much about space and time together,” says Neeko Paluzzi, a Masters student in communications at the University of Ottawa whose first feature-length documentary Wanderweg premieres this Thursday at 7pm at the Mayfair Theatre on Bank Street. “And this film is about two time periods coming together in the same space.”
The film follows Paluzzi’s travels through Switzerland’s diverse and scenic cantons, but it is not a cinematic backpacker’s guide to Switzerland. It is an intriguing, reflexive travel film that is “more about travel than about travelling,” and a culmination of Paluzzi’s five years of filmmaking. “I wanted to show that a second level to any landscape is the inner landscape.”
In fact, Wanderweg documents a filmmaker’s intimate, personal journey between the past and present.
When Paluzzi was a teenager on an exchange in Switzerland, he wrote a letter to himself and hid it in a mountain cabin with the prescient plan to return and read it in the future.
Last summer he did, all set to head out on a filmmaking journey, only to find himself painfully scrapping the entire blueprint for the film. “That complete stop may have been the best thing that happened,” muses Paluzzi with a knowing smile.
Afterwards, the film essentially filmed itself.
By using reflexive techniques and the material he had filmed in the past five years, he hoped to create a highly personal “film about a film, more abstract than a traditional road movie.”
“There are lots of mirrors, lots of filming of myself through something else,” Paluzzi explains. “I travel very much with my head and heart forward, rather than my feet.”
Yet, it’s not merely an introspective self-portrait through the camera lens: “I wanted the audience to come on this journey with me, to feel involved in the making of the film.”
Granted, the scenery of picturesque Grischun or the imposing Nordwand of Eiger are compelling backdrops that many travellers may eagerly try to fit into their Swiss itineraries. But in Paluzzi’s journey, “ the movement is not within space at all but within time, between the present and the flashbacks.”
Wanderweg may sound like an unusual travel documentary, especially given the backing of Swiss Tourism. But it invites the audience on a journey that promises a glimpse of not only Switzerland’s landscape, but more importantly, the young filmmaker’s. Paluzzi will be at the screening, undoubtedly a little nervous. “This moment is really about stepping into myself.”