‘Has it never occurred to you, a person of your age, in a sensitive industry?’
You can never know who you are going to fall in love with and it’s a relationship between two people from very different backgrounds that forms the basic premise for Flying Blind. Made as part of the iFeatures project which encourages and funds modestly budgeted films (around the £350,000 mark) and also partly funded by the BBC and Bristol Council (as lead character Frankie points out ‘I have lived in Bristol all my life’) it is encouraging to see a well constructed and thought-provoking film that was made on a such a small budget getting a DVD release.
‘I’m more interested in the beauty of flight than fight.’ So says Frankie(Helen McCrory) at a lecture that she delivers to aeronautics students, a sideline that complements her main job as an aerospace designer. She’s highly respected, having worked in the field for many years, but the problem is that her design work involves developing surveillance drones for the military, a far cry from the aeronautical work her father was involved with before he retired. A chance encounter with one of her students, 24-year old French Algerian Kahil (Najib Oudghiri), eventually results in the pair getting together and forming a relationship. But can they really enjoy an intimate and passionate romance, given how different their backgrounds are – from an age, language, birthplace, family, religion, occupation and social perspective?
‘Do you think it’s wise having an Arab boyfriend given the nature of your career?’
Flying Blind has aspects to its narrative that recall inter-racial romance films such as Fassbinder’s Katzelmacher (1969) or Fear Eats the Soul (1974) and Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever (1991) but current political concerns and paranoia add another dimension to this film. However, Flying Blind is not simply a political film, indeed its strength lies with its balanced approach to multi-culturalism while not denying the inevitable questions about for Kahil’s motivation for forming the relationship. Political issues and concerns over the highly confidential nature of Frankie’s job leads to the film exploring how the characters interact with each other and understand each other. At first the passion dominates the relationship, but circumstances – eventually – lead to Frankie’s declaration to Kahil, ‘I don’t know who you are,’ and this becomes key to her relationship with him. Who is he really? Why is he here? Is there a horrible, shocking motive behind the relationship or is he an illegal immigrant? For an intelligent professional woman, has she not considered what others might think of their relationship? Or could they, just possibly, have simply fallen in love? Their relationship is passionate and strong even when the situation appears to suggest otherwise.
Flying Blind is the first feature film from Polish director Kasia Klimkiewicz (her short Hanoi Warsaw, won the 2010 European Best Short Film Award) and is made in a manner that is inherently realistic in its implementation even when scenes could so easily have been exaggerated to add drama. Romance that is deemed unacceptable because of age, race and occupation ties in with contemporary political concerns and this make for a film that is compelling to watch because it never resorts to clear-cut resolutions either for the characters or with the issues raised. An interesting drama that asks more questions than it answers, it also forces the audience question their own preconceptions of the characters and their motivations.