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New York Film Festival 61

NYFF61: Close Encounters

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Having the absolute pleasure of viewing a partial slate of shorts brought to us from New York Film Festival, I feel it’s something of a fault to give mere reviews to these extremely varying and experimental shorts. Especially given the experimental nature of the program itself – entitled Close Encounters – it is much more fascinating to explore the forms and poetic nature that each film holds! Shorts unfortunately not able to be viewed were Mast-Del and Spark from a Falling Tree.

Intersection (2023) – dirs. Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie.

IntersectionRichard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie’s Intersection is a monumental catastrophe of beauty in the street that transcends from harsh convulsive imagery into something contemplative in its nature. Images of peoples’ heads, feet, streets, and cars pulse in static motion, making the moving-image an image, moving. While these images flicker in and out, filler words wash over our ears, the hesitation of speech that one only hears in passing. “Uh” and “um” designated in place of forced connectivity, like that found at an intersection. The headache-inducing impulse of the shots is reminiscent of the vitality found in a pulsing intersection, yet one still disconnected from a communal life. As we pass each other in the street, we walk in community, crossing paths as once being strangers, to people we perceive. Although in this moment of recognition, we become isolated to our own motion of life, to the mundanity of space yet the chaos of life. The metric editing protrudes throughout, designating a cacophony of visuals piercing the eyes with its movement. There is nothing falsified here, there is no defined narrative, but it is purely constitutive in its impulses. Everything is temporal, yet the images we create still become mummified for our own eternity. In the short film, we transition from shadows to feet to bodies to heads, from cars to shadows. The motion of the individuals become one as we all find ourselves struck by life that comes and goes like a breeze. It is in the fractures in urban spaces that designate us as equally distant from one another, the designation of separation that we all become complicit too. Maybe it is at the intersections of life where we can find the space to see us as not too far from one another, one that gets lost in the splashes of time, yet one we all need the most, that being the community made amongst urbanity.

Disappearances (2023) – dir. James Edmonds

DisappearancesOh the beauty in a countryside! A glimpse into life in its full honesty, our world unfettered by industrialization at large. In life, comes loss and necrosis of the very beauty we cast as everlasting. It’s this haunting beauty of the everyday that disappears into the material growth of new life. As a tree falls, brushes are able to grow; as we walk through a countryside, our temporality in the moment only lives through memories, yet forever marked by our disappearance from these spaces. These glimpses of spectral life are what connect us all, “spectral life” meaning the people who come before us in these countrysides and the creation and reproduction naturally produced by the beings of nature. It is untethered to the clauses of modern life, unstruck by modernity. James Edmonds journals this very sensation, poetically cataloging his journey across the English countryside. The images are frantic, yet the sound is still. Even in life’s most static form, there is always a continuous motion that we cannot control, yet one we always have to find peace in. There is so much life in Edmonds’ audiovisual diary of this unnamed English countryside. Even in our calmest moments, we always end up aware of what is to come, the disappearances of our time in these spaces. Although it is in this that humbles us to see the beauty, to remember the finiteness of it and therefore stay static to the love nature holds on us, and one we have to hold to.

If You Don’t Watch the Way You Move (2023) – Kevin Jerome Everson

't Watch The Way You MoveWe all mostly love music, and even if not, there will always be something audially one attaches to. Although in music and the audio world, we rarely think about the compositional and recording aspects that go into making an effective response, we all mostly yearn for in music. Kevin Jerome Everson lets us peer into this world with Derek “Dripp” Whitfield Jr. and Taymond “ChoSkii” Hughes’ making of a song for their group, BmE. The magic in creation is something that can really be only felt by the producers and musicians alike, such as Dripp and ChoSkii, but this glimpse into the labor of production needed for these songs allows us to see this world. While we as spectators find ourselves in the studio with Dripp and ChoSkii, we are allowed to sit in on their recording and the mundanity of the imaginative force creating the instrumentals. Their patience is part of the craft. The static camera movements made by Everson designs a platform of respect and admiration for the work that goes behind songs, especially music made by independent artists, which becomes easily overshadowed by the proliferating force of high-octane production value. Everson wants us to peer into this life and understand the real work in creating music on all levels. In Dripp and ChoSkii’s moments of solitude, we resonate with them when their music plays again, a moment of excitement felt through the screen and in our experience as spectators. Everson works here to create a connection between music and film production, the labor that truly goes into these works, for us all to understand the subtle, mundane, and laborious work to make art for people to not only enjoy but also truly feel some form of connection to. 

N’Importe Quoi (for Brunhild) (2023) – Luke Fowler

'importe Quoi (for Brunhild)The archive of personal work is so important to the spirit of creation and the beauty of art in its many forms. Luke Fowler creates here a soft ballad on the life of Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari, painting an admiration for her work as a composer and artist and the spectral life existent in the archive of her work and her late husband, Luc Ferrari. While being a slow short in its content, there is a delicacy formed in the space of Meyer-Ferrari. It creates a very personalized scene of life, of her life. There is red everywhere, a motif designating her individuality found within many of us. Her glasses really stand out here as example – not everyone can pull off hexagonal red glasses! We see Ferrari’s joy in her and her husband’s creative ingenuity, allowing us a directive glimpse into the very creatively fulfilling life she lives. Fowler and Meyer-Ferrari work together here to explore life through creation as sound and image clash as one, although we only see this collaborative effort through a marginal representation – through a periphery. As they work together, Meyer-Ferrari becomes as much the subject of an experimental biography as a star to a fragmented narrative piece made here. Life will always grow and age at the same time, but it is in the archive of life – through music, through images, through film – that allows for us to see beauty as cyclical and still completely varying in its nature. Through Fowler and Meyer-Ferrari’s collaboration, we can see this in a glimpse; it comes at us methodically yet still disjointed in nature.


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