INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION: Out Of Sight
Thursday, 21 January 2021
HERE AND THERE, dir Melisa Liebenthal
Between Google Maps montage, Great Depression-era found footage, and the ancestral rituals of the Muiná-Muruí people, these short films unearth hidden stories and secret histories, both personal and political.
Featurning new archival assemblage from Ken Jacobs (Star Spangled to Death), a metatextual video essay from @avocado_ibuprofen’s Jaakko Pallasvuo (Fruits of the Loom) and ethnographic fiction from Laura Huertas Millán (jeny303).
Programmed by Tom Grimshaw and the international selection committee. 82'
This programme contains stereoscopic imagery.
Please note, the film Jíibie can only be accessed to UK audiences at the request of the filmmaker.
In and around the historical ruins of Fustat in Old Cairo, tensions simmer between the site’s government-appointed guards and residents of a nearby informal settlement, al-Izba.
“The Promised bears witness to the strange indefiniteness of the historical ruins of Fustat in Old Cairo. Unmaintained by government bodies and threatened by the skeletons of new builds, the architectural remains hint at the erosion of collective memory. This film observes the site’s layered functions and the tensions between its value for local residents, looters and government-appointed guards. Unembellished but vast and endlessly enchanting, Ahmed Elgoneimy’s documentary calls into question the possibility of cultural heritage in the presence of political and economic instability.”
— Maria Paradinas
THE WHOLE SHEBANG
Black and white evokes nostalgia for The Great Depression. Things were so cheap, including lives, and we see daredevils (desperate people) compete for money prizes.
“The latest digitally stereoscopic work in avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs’s patented Eternalisms. Dizzying renderings of fire, crashes, explosions, and rooftop escapades capture movement at their most alarming moments. Accompanied by Michael J. Schumacher’s haunting score, reminiscent of a long-gone fairground or a busy factory, the result is an evocative capture of objects as they near destruction and oblivion.”
— Laura K. Jacobs
Every piece of ripped jeans is a riddle of authenticity: did it really happen? Did that hole become a real hole by itself, or did someone tear it intentionally?
“In this lo-fi essay, Pallasvuo leads us on a freewheeling inquiry into the cultural and metaphysical nature of holes. Skittering across a string of audio and visual references - Nirvana, George Bataille, the crucifixion, pit mining - he spirals through the possible meaning and endless potential of the hole, a space for guilt, trauma, artifice and beauty to reside. For those who are familiar with Pallasvuo’s Instagram output (@avocado_ibuprofen), Hole is a filmic extension of his droll inquisitive approach, studded with perceptive observations and melancholic longing.”
— Tom Grimshaw
HERE AND THERE
A film around the meaning of home and belonging. The filmmaker uses photographs, maps and Google Earth to connect places around the globe; not just from her own past, but from the complex migratory history of her family that stretches back to Hitler-era Germany and Mao's China.
“Poignant and breathtaking in equal measure, Here and There charts the filmmaker’s attempt to find meaning and connection in the macro and micro journeys of her family’s migratory history, spanning many decades across multiple continents. One of its most compelling elements can be found in its meticulous construction, utilising archive, physical media, Google Earth and moments of fourth-wall breaking bravada where one element collapses into the other. Through this, Liebenthal points towards an inherent yet no less devastating truth, that migration carries within it the uncertainty of truly understanding your own heritage.”
— Tom Grimshaw
There are Appa, Daughter, and kid living in the mountain. Appa wants to feed his daughter, but she wants to run away from the table.
“In shadowy ink and pencil, Jin Woo’s San is an absurd and unsparing watch - an animated depiction of inherited trauma, and poignant assertion of our finiteness as individuals. Each day, Daughter consumes great mouthfuls of darkness and offers limbs and viscera to her visiting relatives until one day, so depleted, she fragments. Though we never see Daughter rebuild herself outside of this mechanised family routine, the mastery of style and hand-worked tactility of Daughter’s world assures us of Jin’s presence and potentiality, extending to us as viewer a gentle reminder for self-preservation.”
— Jenna Roberts
Laura Huertas Millán
The elaboration ritual of a green coca powder (called mambe or 'Jiíbie') unveils an ancestral myth of kinship. In the Muiná-Muruí Amazonian community, the coca plant is not a product, but a sacred interlocutor, the beating heart of a collective body.
“Laura Huertas Millán turns her ethnographic eye to the relationship between the Muiná-Muruí community and the coca plant. The film is primarily interested in the process by which the powder – ‘Jíibie’ – is created, and the rhythmic, ritualistic nature of this process. By focusing on this element, which seems to speak from a deeper past, Huertas Millán collapses the distance between the viewer and the distinct engagement the Muiná-Muruí have with the world around them. The idea of a spiritual entity formed of the coca becomes a tangible possibility and reframes our thinking about how we encounter the natural world.”
— Ben Nicholson