Weltschmerz – NOWNESS

The latest film from Danish director Jesper Dalgaard is an intimate, wry, and ultimately life-affirming tale of role-play and relationships set during the rehearsals for a play. Its director, a blind woman who has recently experienced the end of a relationship, leads her small cast through an exploratory search for meaning, which includes a sequence of acting exercises, costume role-plays, and highly ornate dioramas which increasingly test the limits of reality itself. Dalgaard’s approach to the material is that of an author and an anthropologist; mixing fiction with hybrid documentary direction, wherein the film was allowed to evolve organically, dynamically. Talking about the film’s unusual approach, Dalgaard explained that he was discovering the meaning and structure of it as they went along—learning as much from the cast as from his own notes and ideas.

The literal concept of weltschmerz takes its name from German author Jean Paul’s idea of ‘world weariness,’ denoting a feeling experienced by someone who believes that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. For the play’s cast and director, each of whom experience some form of disability or learning difficulty, this concept acquires a new meaning—of whether people can escape the perceived ‘limitations’ of their differences, while also empathising with the experiences of one who is separated from themselves.

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