Identifications script

Part 1: Gramsci’s Notebooks
Opening shots
Image: shadow blinds Alena
vo: My friend Francesca says that taking pictures is as important as water rights or a homeland for the Palestinians.

Image: Alena magic hour sea
She talks about a new contract that would stop anyone from making a picture until you’ve been there six months.

Image: waterfall, timelapse fence, timelapse tree shadow
I guess it would stop the news from looking like it was made by tourists.

Image: curious horse
How would the world appear if every face and street corner was also a picture of home?
I want to follow her advice, but not before making one last trip. I guess I’m not quite ready for utopia.

Image: ocean scapes. Title: commodity
Sometimes you have to travel around the world in order to see where you are. I haven’t been able to get out of bed in weeks, paralyzed with depression. Perhaps it was time to visit my dead Italian friend to look for answers.

Title: Gramsci’s Notebooks

Scene 1: Jogger
image: palermo morning magic hour drive

It turns out the great Italian writer Antonio Gramsci was also a jogger. He even wrote a book about it, though most prefer his prison notebooks. He said, “I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void.”

Gramsci was often asked what he thought about as he ran. He wrote, “Usually the people who ask have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? To be honest, I don’t have a clue.”

Scene 2: Faces
vo:  Gramsci asks us to look closely into every face. What he is looking for is fear because fear is the beginning of a culture. Every self doubt and hate crime, the name of every country, wherever there is a boss or king, or a voice raised against a different race, gender or species, it all begins with here, in the place where fear lives.

The face is the primal scene of the class struggle. Perhaps by dedicating ourselves to the close-up, we might find the beginnings of a new society.

Scene 3: Ghost fog
vo: Because Gramsci’s spine was crooked he was hunchbacked and grew to a height of only five feet. He became a journalist and then an organizer for workers. He saw that the ruling class no longer needed guns, the media would do that for them. Common sense, it seems, was the sharpest weapon of all. He started the Communist party in Italy, knowing we would need different kinds of relationships.

Scene 4: Sunset
song: I need your love so badly, I love you so madly
But I don’t stand a ghost of a chance with you

Scene 5: Blinds, beach, bodies
vo: The end of my old life began with a single, tiny mistake: my partner, making a left-hand turn, forgot to signal. The car accident… My partner got a concussion that left him needing constant care. I maxed myself out – physically, emotionally, financially. When my partner recovered, he left.

Image: man at water

vo: I became homeless for a short time, and then turned into a dog. How did Gramsci put it? The old world is dying, while the new struggles to be born.

Scene 6: Dog at beach
vo: Gramsci was arrested for thinking out loud and spent the rest of his life in prison. He had convulsions, vomited blood, and suffered headaches so violent he beat his head against the walls of his cell. He dreamed that the movements of swans would model a new human society. The state had ruined his body but not his analysis of power, which he poured into 20 notebooks. He dreamed of the ocean.

Scene 7: Immigrants at train station with police

Last image: boat on sea, iris to black

Part 2: After Drowning

Tell me it was for the hunger
and nothing less.
For hunger is to give
the body what it knows
it cannot keep.

In this new country
everything looks like you.

We used to climb these trees
until we found
the end of our ambitions.

A brother is like one’s shoulder.
My brother.

The burning last four days
and on the fourth day we left.
Even though I never left.

Homer was a man who wanted to eat the world
like you, he had an appetite for everything he saw.
You said: philosophy is really homesickness.
It is the urge to be home everywhere.
There is no question I am starving.
There is no question I am making this journey
to find out what appetite is.

That endless afternoon with my brother
when the world disappeared for the first time.
The boats, the forced leaving
the surrender to this new country.

Only you were there with me.
You were the window.

I hope it’s not too much to say.
Your looking makes me feel lonely.
You talk about your brother
as if he was the survivor, not you.
Not us.
Some mornings I hate you more than myself.

Without tears I become invisible.
Your face looked out from mine.
You are alive because you’re a question.
What’s it like to be the first anything?

I grew up disappearing into a body.
Just like you.

When I touch her
I see the face of my brother drowning again.
Why didn’t he keep his promise
and take me with him?

War is a form of divination.
We think we are safe, but there is no shelter.
When we stopped arguing
the only thing left to invent was how to say good-bye.

In the dream I am not the centre, the hero
I am the landscape
you told us we had to leave.

Survival is the second kind of death
You couldn’t hold onto the boat
and I can’t hold onto the shore.
Was I already dead
before you killed me?

Part 3: Closer

Jorge Lozano voice over: The whole thing started in Colombia when I saw for the first time works by Norman McLaren. I had never seen any experimental work. The works I saw from him were made with city lights, he moved the camera creating all these life drawings. I was really excited by that. I came out of that screening in Cali, Colombia thinking: it’s great, I can do this. I don’t need to get actors. I don’t have to say anything. There’s no narrative, nothing. I can do it. So I got really excited about it and came out with a feeling that I wanted to do it one day.

When I got to Canada the first thing I did was to buy a super 8 camera and go to Yonge Street where Sam the Record Man is and I did the same thing. That was my first super 8 film. I’ve used little bits of it in other films.

The visual training I had here dealt with experimental works that I saw. There were many people working at A Space Gallery. A lot of independent young, artists, the last of the hippies. I started going to A Space events when it used to be close to Yonge Street. A Space was really exciting. There was an incredible connection with the most prolific and risk-taking artists of the time. I think that William Burroughs came.

title: We believe the world is beautiful
that our veins don’t end in us
but in the unanimous blood

title: of those who struggle for life
love, little things, the air, the sun,
and tenderness.

title: Beginning
end of love

voice over: There’s a difference in the work that I do that I also see in other countries in Europe and Russia that don’t have our traditions of experimental filmmaking. The techniques, the exploration of experimentality is in their work but their work has political content.

Here the history is more formalist. There’s an investigation of the formal aspect of filmmaking. Very strong, very important. But we’re still doing it. There’s a very puristic approach. My approach is totally different. I identify with people who don’t have that tradition but know it.

I use everything I’ve seen in my work. From scratching film, developing film, putting chemicals on film. In video using mistakes, errors. Every way to create a different way to do something.

It all comes from seeing so many works and developing my own language. It’s been a process of learning and creating my own language which boils down to being an immigrant and trying to have my own voice.

title: Searchlight nomad
title: We Can’t Be Destroyed
By Any Fire
Or Consumed

title: Greed
title: We deliver unlimited potential.
title: Sacrifice
title: Courage
title: Loyalty
title: An Epic Story
title: Silencio
title: Plan Colombia
title: Being in

voice over: Being in a country where you’re not from you are every day exposed to different things. Reacting differently. You have to move very carefully and evaluate who you are constantly because people are always telling you that you’re not from here. In one way or another when they ask you: where are you from?

I get stereotyped here by all colours and all cultures that are not Latin. They will always say the little thing to me, to me it’s uncomfortable. Like ‘Senior’ or ‘Hola.’

At the end everyone is racist. That’s something we have to acknowledge that we have been taught by stereotypes and internalized racism. Diversity should bring us closer, not separate us.

title: thinking pictures

voice over: I think there is a difference between ethics and morality. Morality deals with established values of good and evil. Ethics requires a commitment to radical structural change that also affects our personal lives. Ethics is inseparable from aesthetics. The world we inhabit as artists challenges established codes, regimes of being, behaving, thinking.

credits: Art Ensemble of Chicago, William Burroughs, Alexandra Gelis, Johanna Householder, Mike Hoolboom, Christine Kirouac, Jorge Lozano, Marshall McLuhan, Tanya Mars, Marie Menken, Clive Robertson, Sam Sniderman, Michael Snow, Reva Stone

Part 4: Colour My World

title: Colour My World

You showed me
how to write this book
how to see this colour
notice the small variations
of light as they passed
between us.

And then you left.
What colour is goodbye?


Now I’ve joined the choir
of those who loved too much.
I have no cheek to turn.
How can a colour look back?
What did our looking change?

Only a projector
gives off a light without colour.

Let’s look at colour together again
because individual activity is not revolutionary work.
If power concedes nothing without a demand
what demands are being made now?
Is the screen a mirror or a door
where we can discover
what we are not yet?

Jericho Brown
James Cole
Angela Davis
Frederick Douglass
Mike Hoolboom
Bell Hooks

Part 5: Identification

Scene 1: Boy Into Man
Man smokes, boy takes picture. They are dressed identically.

Scene 2: Smoke
Man lying in smoke
Woman (Sariah) face in smoke

Scene 3
Tree reflection in water
Black woman spinning in space (void)
Man lying and unmoving
Sariah at broken door

Scene 4: Maced
Sariah truck reflection
Audio (voices): You maced the other guy, you fucking idiot.
Get your hands off him, it was the other guy who was messing with us.
He didn’t do anything.
He didn’t do nothing.
Let him go.
You maced the wrong guy man.
Yeah, you maced the wrong guy.
I saw this, he did not do anything.
Let go of me please.
Hey hey hey.
You mace the black guy, are you kidding me?
Put your hands up on the wall. Sir, put your hands up on the wall.
Let him go.
Do you have water?
He didn’t do anything.
Are you going to mace a black man?
Will you people relax?
Water, we need water!

Scene 5: Everyday
Unmoving man in front of closed diner
Interior scenes friends hang out, boy takes a picture
Sariah pushes a cart in Wallmart

Scene 6: James Baldwin 1
Jeffrey Wray reads James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son: The moment I saw him I knew why I had put off this visit so long. I had told my mother that I did not want to see him because I hated him. But this was not true. It was only that I had hated him and I wanted to hold on to this hatred. I did not want to look on him as a ruin: it was not a ruin I had hated. I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.

We travelled out to him, his older sister and myself, to what seemed to be the very end of a very Long Island. It was hot and dusty and we wrangled, my aunt and I, all the way out, over the fact that I had recently begun to smoke and, as she said, to give myself airs. But I knew that she wrangled with me because she could not bear to face the fact of her brother’s dying.

Neither could I endure the reality of her despair, her unstated bafflement as to what had happened to her brother’s life, and her own.

Scene 10 James Baldwin 2
Jeffrey Wray reads James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son: So we wrangled and I smoked and from time to time she fell into a heavy reverie. Covertly, I watched her face, which was the face of an old woman; it had fallen in, the eyes were sunken and lightless; soon she would be dying, too.

In my childhood – it had not been so long ago – I had thought her beautiful. She had been quick-witted and quick-moving and very generous with all the children and each of her visits had been an event. At one time one of my brothers and myself had thought of running away to live with her. Now she could no longer produce out of her handbag some unexpected and yet familiar delight. She made me feel pity and revulsion and fear. It was awful to realize that she no longer caused me to feel affection. The closer we came to the hospital the more querulous she became and at the same time, naturally, grew more dependent on me. Between pity and guilt and fear I began to feel that there was another me trapped in my skull like a jack-in-the-box who might escape my control at any moment and fill the air with screaming.

Scene 15 Charlie “Africa” Keunang murder
Man in light
Audio: Crowd sounds, gunshots.
Man in light: Whoa. Omigod. Damn. Oh fuck. They just killed that man. They just shot that motherfucker man like that. There’s nine motherfucking police out there. Ain’t nobody got no fucking guns. I’m gonna record this shit. Yeah. Ain’t nobody got no motherfucking guns. They just shot that man right here man. They just shot that motherfucking man right here. They just shot that man right here man. I’m gonna record all this shit. That’s fucked up.

That man is dead now. That man is dead. That man is dead, man. You coward. That man is fucking dead. Six motherfucking police out here. Six motherfucking police just killed this man. You know what I’m saying?

Scene 16 Identification
Sariah writes on blackboard: I can identify.

On March 1, 2014 Los Angeles police officers Chana Syed, Francisco Martinez and Daniel Torres assaulted, tasered then shot a man named Charlie “Africa” Keunang to death on the 500 block of South San Pedro Street. No one was charged with his murder.

Part 6: Green

It’s not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
or something much more colorful like that.

But if green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why.
But why wonder?
I’m green.

Identifications credits
Fatih Akin, Elliott Andogony, Chet Baker, James Baldwin, Nicola Bellucci, Dexter Liberthal Brazier, Dionne Brand, Nicola Alexis-Brooks, Ludovico Caldarera, Anne Carson, Andrea Cardenas, Ray Charles, Camilo Constain, Filippa Dolce, Alexia Edman, James Fagan, Alexandra Gelis, Eleonora Giammanco, Brittany Holmes, Mike Hoolboom, Shirley Horn, Alena Koroleva, Wilma Labbate, Jahnoy Lindsay, Mario Lisciandrello, Jorge Lozano, Gioanni Massa, Sariah Melcalfe, Shakeem Masoni-Pascoe, Francesco Lo Porto, Haroulah Rose, Marta Schiera, Ian Siporin, Solitare, Phil Strong, Tooh, Ocean Vuong, Christopher Washington, Jeffrey Wray