A Season in Paradise | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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A Season in Paradise

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This 1996 Swiss documentary about writer Breyten Breytenbach returning to his native South Africa is one of Richard Dindo's richest and most moving films. From the late 1970s to the early '80s Breytenbach was imprisoned for resisting the apartheid government; in the '90s he interrupted a self-imposed exile in Paris to visit the lush landscapes of his childhood, the courtroom where he was tried, and the prisons where he was held. The film allows Breytenbach to turn the tables on his oppressors, implicitly putting them on trial; he's accompanied by his Vietnamese wife, herself formerly victimized under apartheid. Dindo's evocative weave of image and sound combines dialogue with voice-over, film with videotape; avoiding any sort of hierarchy, it honors the complexity of memory and of consciousness itself, its pictures reverberating alongside the unseen imagery of Breytenbach's spoken reminiscences. This sort of resonance might explain why the great documentary filmmaker Joris Ivens once compared Dindo's work to the fugues of Bach. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, September 3, 6:00, 312-443-3737. --Fred Camper

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