Intervention, Mark Lewis’s hypnotic anthology of cityscapes, sets its tone early. The film opens up in the Louvre Museum with the camera focused on the Sleeping Hermaphroditus sculpture. As the lens leisurely moves around the piece every line, curve and knick is amplified in the viewer’s mind. Lewis is not simply showcasing a work of art, but rather he is asking the audience to ponder its construction and purpose. The camera lingers, unhurried by time, in such a way that the sculpture becomes a symbol of the beauty and ingenuity that exists within the world.

Shot in Paris, São Paulo and Toronto over the course of two years, Lewis’ film takes audiences on a vibrant tour of the textures, innovation, and history of the cities people inhabit. The camera is Lewis’ paintbrush and the cityscapes are his canvas. Through the use of zooms, pans, tilts, and some spectacular tracking shots he creates a vivid portrait of the urban world. He not only finds beauty in the historic buildings and artworks, but also the modern skyscrapers and roads that can often be found along the way. The hustle and bustle of daily life is given an almost angelic feel through Lewis’ lens. In his hands even human shadows feel like souls dancing across the floor.

One of the fascinating elements in Intervention is that everything – from the spiral staircases to the old archways to the office lighting to the man clearing snow from the sidewalk – feels as if it has a story to tell. This is especially true when Intervention reaches its’ stark and wonderfully jarring ending. While Lewis’ uncompromising and languid approach to documenting the nuances of city life is not for everyone, as he weaves together 14 films with no dialogue, those willing to embrace more experimental filmmaking will find much food for thought in the film’s visually captivating allure.

Saturday, September 12, 5:00 PM, AGO
Sunday, September 13, 09:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Ticket information can be found at the TIFF website.