And Belonging (Winterthur, Switzerland 2018)

Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur Nov. 6-11, 2018

Program 1 Threads of Belonging
Those who have been refused have created new forms of beauty, new ways to say yes to these broken bodies that have never stopped inventing ways to resist. Each of these lush extravaganzas of seeing are filled with a beauty that allows us to see, even to withstand and celebrate the most neglected parts of our city selves. These brave new anthropologies bring our bodies close to forgotten pleasures, newly lit up by a cinema of the border lands, where outlaws have surrendered to tenderness.

America: Bay of Arrows by Ana Vaz 9 minutes 2016
Vaz’s laconic masterpiece leads off the program. A floating bravura camera enters a desolated dream of a new world, echoing Columbus’ abject triumphalism centuries past, we are in the same Bay where he was met with a hail of arrows and repelled from the Dominican Republic. Using long takes, a steady gaze, patient forms of looking, we are allowed to step into the camera body, and follow an Indigenous man who brings us into a coral desert, part of the lake grown dry, a new beginning which is also an echo of the past. It is a world often glimpsed upside down, as if we were watching from the other side, part of a revolution of seeing, a trope literalized in a scene that follows the spare narration, where the camera’s turning reimagines the undoing of the colonial project, refusing its hierarchies of top and bottom, slaver and slave. After the liberation: a democracy of seeing.

The Thread by Bulgarelli Pietro and Polanco Pablo 6 minutes 2017
Making ample use of film’s ability to conjure a haptic world of texture, touch and sensation, this close-up look at weaving and family, the costs of growing old in a vanishing world, are narrated by a seamstress, Maria Lucrecia Rain Quiriante,who stands at the edge of time, quietly declaiming the moments when. A delicate, and sensitively composed soundtrack counterposes and accompanies the old world pictures. A languid sweetness, sundrenched plants and mate, until the inevitable roll calls of the dead are summoned.

Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come to Me, Paradise) by Stephanie Comilang 25:46 minutes 2017
In this bent tale of economic migration, three Filipina domestic workers (Irish May Salinas, Lyra Ancheta Torbela and Romylyn Presto Sampaga) wind up in Hong Kong, making someone else’s life perfect. A media ghost/drone exile voices her hopes from the faraway hills of home, before alighting on the Sunday (at last, a day off!) street gatherings, where a torrent of uploads reconnects workers with their left behind friends and families. It was the strangest movie I watched last year, not knowing is one what the hell is going on remains one of the deepest pleasures. At last, I thought, the new cinema has arrived!

The Island by Alexandra Gelis
6 minutes 2018
Portrait miniatures have become one of the specialties of this gifted artist. Because her face is always opening, she has encounters in laundromats, on roadsides and cafes, and sometimes her camera accompanies her. An evolving portrait of a global underclass. Today she is in Oakland, where a homeless man tends a garden of a park where the city’s most marginal citizens can find refuge and company. She shoots in super 8, mauled in hand processing, then shot off the wall with a video camera. Brian Decobray dishes the history of the land he’s standing on, and his own recollections of addiction and recovery. “Every day is like a celebration to me.”

Illegal_its effect on the body 37:07 minutes 2016
Illegal_its impact on the body showcases a harrowingly eloquent quartet of illegal immigrants living in Toronto, Canada. Each works a variety of routinely underpaid jobs, including dishwasher, janitor, metal shop hack, construction crew. Chief amongst the economic precariat, they are routinely exploited for free labour (you mean I have to pay you?) and sexual services.

In place of a talking head parade, the artist offers us a hallucinatory city portrait, each scene lensed as if from the vantage of a forbidden and alien presence, looking askance (sideways, the light streaking, hyperbolically coloured) at the neo-liberal showcase of this brave new city, remade in the image of its developers.

Program 2 Home is
How to bring together radical forms with radical contents, in the service of a beauty that is also the beginning of a political change, a way of feeling into the most unwanted corners of our cities. Each of these seven artists take on the question of home and belonging, often in surprising and unusual ways. There is a mix of hand-drawn animation, weightless high definition dollies, hand-processed film and verité musings. The cultural nightmares beneath Egypt and Mexico, the Venice mirage in Doha, the all-night bus at the heart of the digital revolution. Come and take a trek around the world as we search for a place to call home.

I am always connected by Phillip Barker 4:17 minutes 1998
Originally shot in super 8, we begin in a world of shadows, where what appears to be a domestic scene, a woman ironing clothes, turns out to be a Frankenstein moment of origins instead, where the final piece of the dreaded apparatus monster is put in place. The second and longest shot of the movie shows a dance with darkness. The world is turned upside down. How can we embrace the most forbidden parts of ourselves? Finally, in an old-time curtain pulling gesture, the artist slowly walks away from his machine duet, and shows us how the magic was created.

In the form of the Letter ‘X’ by Mike Cartmell 5.5 min 1985
‘X’ is a signature – a filmic equivalent of Cartmell’s name (which is reduced by exhaustive transcription to a simple X). X is the mark of those who cannot write, or who do not know their own names. Photographed over years against a backdrop of the Canadian Shield, X shows Cartmell’s son Sam running in slow motion towards the camera, and, in the film’s second half, away from it. The shape/structure of the movie is chiasmatic, part of the old avant-garde dream of creating movies that could be shown backwards and forwards. The movie is in two parts that form an X. The music is taken from a Zombies tune whose opening riff is looped and repeated, held in suspension until the song breaks into its opening lines over the final image: “What’s your name? Who’s your daddy?” Intertitles lifted from Melville’s Pierre relate the tale of a graveyard search, a hunt through pyramids, only to find that the caskets are empty.

Ciudad Maya by Andrés Padilla Domene
24 minutes, 2016
Anthropology 2.0. Anthropology as science fiction, the unlikely meeting of cultures, the uneasy dance of observer and observed. We are in the city of Merida, Mexico, where Mayan culture is re-named and reimagined, not a static object to be collected and displayed, but part of an ongoing negotiation with a tangled present, even a future, that is filled with technological blindness and superstitions. The money of engagement, of contact, the money that makes contact possible, that creates pictures like these. What is the cost of looking, and who will pay it? This movie offers a procession of bold frontiers and invites its audience to make the leap of interpretation, again and again. A generous unfolding.

Untitled, 1925 Part Two by Madeleine Piller
8:45 minutes 2016
Part two in the artist’s trilogy continues the search for roots in the artist’s homeland of Peru. A stunning and lyrical work imbued with a rare intensity. Beautifully photographed, a masterpiece of stone, steeples, coastline, houses on narrow streets. Footage of the Andes appears in solarized glimpses, the silver mining of this geography echoed in a formal treatment that brings the flm’s silver up to the surface. Here is a temporary summit and culmination, a summary work, dense with a lifetime of seeing and materialistic practice.

Turtles Are Always Home by Rawane Nassif
11:40 minutes, 2017
This award-winning short moves with a lyric gravity through Venice’s dreamed double, a city of water rebuilt in the Qanat Quartier of Doha, Qatar. With a keen observational gaze, the camera frames emptied storefronts and streets, deserted canals (except for cleaners and security guards) and inevitably, reflections of the artist herself, a Lebanese-Canadian silhouette, patient in her nomadic work. To close the work she sings a riff from Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian poet giant, the maestro of exile.

Original Machines by Heather Frise
7 minutes, 2018
This kinetic suite of hand-drawn animations pictures women in states of abject surrender and celebration. The animal life of the body converts these Muybridge studies – symptoms of patriarchy’s slow grind – into sudden and unexpected openings. The artist commits herself to every frame, filling each with a raw intensity. Her drawings summon a visceral private language that is drawn and redrawn in front of the camera lens, each conjured figure savaged and torn apart with household materials (wax, dish soap, cleaners), as if the creator had to take revenge on her subjects. How to find home in bodies that no longer belong?

Hotel 22 by Elizabeth Lo 8:38 minutes 2015
“Line 22 is a bus route that runs 24 hours in Silicon Valley, shuttling between San Jose and Palo Alto. The homeless pay the fare to ride the bus at night along its hour-and-a-half route, getting off at each end, and often riding several times back and forth. The practice has gone on for years, and the bus is known colloquially as ‘Hotel 22.’ Elizabeth Lo

Here is the other side of the digital revolution. A quietly observational doc about Silicon Valley’s underclass, lensed with tenderness and respect. A nighttime world of mobile sleepers and pained public solitudes. The quiet dignified protest against an unheated bus in the winter. Ugly racist screeds from fellow passengers. The cruel wake up call at the end of the line. The film quietly points to the failure of the state, the ongoing class war in the United States, developer greed, and the plight of the invisible.