Josephine Massarella


For three decades this movie artist has been collecting frames with a steady and patient looking. These first person lyrics have roots in the artist’s experience but unfold as surrealistic allegory or mysterious encounter. A multi-award winning filmmaker whose work has shown all over the world, she began with an alternating current of pseudo-dramatic work and landscape reverie. Haunted by a sense of loss and solitary, the subjects in her movie (which includes the act of seeing itself), find consolation in the abject beauty of their environments. After a ten year pause she has returned with a pair of poetic landscape dreams that are as striking as anything she has made previously.

One Woman Waiting 8 minutes 1984
In a dreamy desert, a woman steps into the frame, walking alone, sitting alone. Her dream double appears, slowly approaching. Wordless and unhurried. They embrace and then walk off in different directions. Beautifully rendered in a single shot until a series of dissolves darkens the frame and closes the proceedings.

No. 5 Reversal 10 minutes 1989
The film opens with a pair of lovers sharing their stories and hilarity in bed while Ruth Brown’s Teardrops From My Eyes pleads on the track, lamenting a lost love. This protracted domestic scene dissolves into a series of rapturous nature portraits. A voice-over speaks of ruinous slaughter during the war as the camera combs through the ruins. The artist appears in a brief cameo, carefully posed and lit in a studio, the camera covering half her face as if she had been delivered to the machines of seeing. She appears between shots of another abandoned house, another broken window that we are looking through so that the work of putting the world back together can begin again.


Interference 20 minutes 1990
The sense of constructed time, the quality of care and attention, is exquisite here. A typist finds her keys in a machine rhythm of another era, outside the construction crews are working full stop. Here is a portrait of the in-between, before inspiration strikes, before the first shot, the first intention. She puts coffee on the boil while the kids play in a nearby schoolyard. She smokes, picks at a few more keys, listens to the clock tick. She stares out the window as the light changes, a neighbor waits at the front door for mail. A world of offscreen sound summons and interrupts her. The tree that lives in her neighbourhood. The caffeinated distraction. The quietest lesbian drama complete with punch line. A portrait of pre-internet distraction, before the world wide web filled every thought balloon.

Green Dream 23 minutes 1994
Poetic intertitles appear between natural world discoveries – flying trees, whales spouting, sea lions entering the water together. In other words, a temporary and reliable happiness. Before that gives way to the grinding shriek of Violence and the Sacred and a single frame montage that hurtles across the treeline. How can I work all that anxious energy up into the image? Ruined trees lie fallen together. “Imagination is like being slightly deaf.” The dolphins are saying yes.


Night Stream 12 minutes 1996
This surrealistic tale of two couples occupies a series of vanishing, interchangeable landscapes (desert, ocean, meadow). The couples exchange gifts and mysteries – the key, the book, the shell, and apples most of all. As long as the code stays secret, desire is alive. One dies in water, allowing the other to be reborn in earth. She walks naked across the hill, as if for the first time.


No End 6 minutes 2015
While walking in a forest, a woman finds a book, and what follows are the dreamed reflections of those words, those impressions. A poem (written by the filmmaker) appears one line at a time over sensitively made pictures of the natural world. They speak of loss and grieving, everything here bears the traces of the one who is no longer present. Instead, there is the consolation of flowers, the voice of the wind, the harmony of seer and seen. How to let the trees look back, to allow the rock markings to testify?