write up by Jacqueline Valencia
Films in this program:
Cells and Stalks by Herb Theriault (2012, 35mm/Video, Canada)
Explosion No. 6 by Julie Tremble (2012, Video, Canada)
The House of Olga by Alexandra Gelis (2013, Video, Panama, Canada)
Tender Feet by Fern Silva (2013, 16mm, USA)
Paradise Springs by Brigid McCaffrey (2013, Video, USA)
Moments make up the lived reality. In film, moments compose the entirety of a film’s experience between director and audience. Short films are invariably intimate cinematic experiences that capture a choreographed or spontaneous moment in time. The 2014 Images Festival Resistance, Persistence, and Time Program is a pastiche of creative and scientific ontological views.
Heller’s Creme 21 utilizes archival footage and vintage educational science films to compile a work exploring time. What is now? How do we perceive our now as it continually becomes the past? Visuals move from past to what can be seen as a “present” and a possible future. While watching this I was caught by future forecasting. What we have now is nothing compared to what was prophesied then.
While the viewer hears the real of the tape splicing and crackling the visual bounce around to provoke interpretable moments. Once upon a time, that crackle was a common occurrence in film and most of us would think nothing of it. Now it takes on meaning: it’s a past sound put to old visuals, but Heller has somehow created a commentary on the story of now through her work.
Theriault’s Cells and Stalks is a beautiful rendition of Brakhage’s Mothlight; only instead of dead detritus, we’re watching living flora highlighted by natural sunlight. Veiny leaves flutter by quickly, but their movement is seemingly natural exposing the fragility of something so enduring, yet fleeting in nature: the present is but a view through the living leaf.
Tremble’s Explosion No. 6 is a burst of leaves and flora slowly making their way across a black background. A chaos of birds provides the soundtrack, suggesting a bird war or bird alert of some sort. It’s as if a still moment were suddenly made alive by an unavoidable disturbance. It makes you aware of the space, placing the viewer in an instant slowed down for digestion.
Gelis’s House Of Olga is a unique little film. Olga is a Panamanian woman who lives in a run down home surrounded by gorgeous foliage. Missing teeth, but with one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve seen, she relates the story of her misunderstood home. Home for her has always been in the trees and her plants. She’d rather sleep on a rock by her favourite views than in a bed away from them. Something, a mental issue, once took her away from her home, but when she got back, her home was changed without her permission. She explains that people were looking out for her by tearing down what she had, but she saw nothing wrong with living the way she did. The only hints we are given is a view of tree branch where she puts all the things she might need: a pen, a toothbrush, soap and notebook. If you need a pen, there it is, she says. Olga’s house is her paradisiacal breathing space.
Silva’s Tender Feet is a view of the road from the vast expanse of the desert to hulking remains of a burnt forest. It’s kind of like visually depicting a moment of panic that comes out nowhere, especially as you hear dogs bark and imminent bad weather broadcast on the radio. A spider crawls about as one does when thunder is heard in the distance. Depending on your mood, you either become anxious or calmed by the images. It would interest most to know that this film was shot just before the end of the Mayan calendar.
McCaffrey’s Paradise Springs provoked a lot of thought in me. The filmmaker follows geologist Ren Lallatin in her daily wanderings in the Mojave Desert. She lives in a mobile shelter away from society and even the people that own the land she’s on. Lallatin explains her lifestyle as one where she interacts with the rocks and the geological formations around her revealing a touching portrait of a true Nietzschean loner. Lallatin understands nature more than she does the world outside of the Mojave. Her triumph is in living beyond what is considered “conventional” yet she feels compelled to comment on a need for a sociable world while living in what some might consider a “perfect life.”
It’s a provocative program that leaves the viewer wondering what to do within the space that exists in the here and now.