Something grew out of the cracks and walls and occupied all the empty spaces in a little Mediterranean city. This short film is about the gentrification of a place that has recently become a real archeological site thanks to severe turistification.

Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment 

Saturation, by Lucija Bužančić, is one of only a few films in this year’s programme dedicated to forms of housing rights. Saturation brings us a computer-animated view of a small coastal town suffering from the gentrification of tourism, seemingly its only economic motive yet also the source of its ruin. Bužančić makes the film an accessible feature to all through the choice of computer-animation and a relatively pleasing aesthetic. The aesthetic choices are not without their political ramifications however. 

The town exists in a somewhat amorphous state. Without clear structure buildings, people and things blend into one another. Locals de-natured into blob forms testify to the slow destruction of the town’s vitality and identity. As we see in the opening sequences, the tourism industry has much to answer for; signs fetishise and capitalise upon the working-class area promising authenticity and ‘real locals’. As well as damaging the psychology of the residents – the zoo-like looking structure of this form of tourism is evident – this process damages the town, creating its present amorphous structure. 

Who appears to us as recognisable forms within this film? Certainly not the tourists. The tourists lack all manner of recognisable form being completely blob-like. They pervade most of the images, take up and block mise-en-scène. They make their visual stamp but without any signature. We might ask: who are these people? It seems they themselves don’t know. 

This own lack of self-identity seems to pervert the coastal town around them. Their tourism projects this uncertainty of identity onto the town as a fetishised object, destroying any sense of autonomy and identity the town may have. Some boys and a cat somehow resist on the rooftops, a place unseen and thus they keep their relatively stable appearance. The question of resolution thus sits at odds with Saturation’s politics; it is unclear what must be done to reverse these effects. Maybe, as perpetrators of this form of Western originated safari tourism ourselves, we must look to ourselves for the change? 

  /  2022
Lucija Bužančić
09:48 mins
Original Language Croatian, English
Andrijana Vidaček