Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Editing = Stripping Down = Confronting Loss = Rebirth

I am not going to include an image with this post because I believe, for once, the writing can stand on its own feet (does writing have two feet, or more?).

The last two weeks have been led at an unprecedented pace, perhaps the rhythm of editing itself has been pacing my life. I have nearly completed a fine edit of my documentary, a process which has taught me a great deal about writing, not just film editing. I now know (not in the way one knows what one has once read, but in a more internalised way) that a holistic text is as much about what is left out as it is a composition of what is included. The frame reigns supreme.

Then there has been the Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival 2009, free access to which (courtesy a media pass) has enabled me to not just watch the best and latest in Australian and overseas cinema, but also inhale an environment where I can sense a future. Or some semblance of a future. Yesterday, attending the Screenwriters' Fringe, I felt for the first time in a long time, that I am lucky to be in Adelaide. Premier Mike Rann, in his consummate cinema-speech, seemed to suggest that it is a hub of film activity in Australia. While the question of native audience indifference looms large over the fate of local films as well as the diasporic films that I'm examining for my PhD, I'm confident that conceptual scripts and lyrical editing can turn the tide.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Catharsis in the Dark

When I first watched Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long in a small theatre by myself over the Christmas break, I thought it was the dark intimacy of the cinemascape, combined with thoughts of family and recent emotional turmoil that caused me to bawl. Also noteworthy are the now questionable facts that I rarely cry, or only do so when 'stuff' has accumulated. Although getting teary in public remains taboo, I'm wondering if the enclosed darkness of a cinema hall really constitutes a public place. For my tear glands of late, apparently not.

I cried again today while watching Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married, even if it was only in sniffles. However, this time, I was watching with a good friend, in a larger space, after a surprisingly good birthday-week, and with no emotional baggage that I could put my finger on. Perhaps I was drawn to the film because a friend had pre-informed me of its visual make-up. What was this make-up? A combination of Gothic undertones, Indian patterns, African brights - all shot in a Monsoon Wedding style of home-videoesque closeups and amateur pans. I think I was seeking a visual connection of sorts, if not a catharsis. Maybe I have come to expect it everytime I enter that dark space because I have alloted these movie outings the space where I can acknowledge life-affirming details. Is this space inner or outer, public or private, well-lit or dark? What I do know is that it fuels my passion for both the real and reel world(s).

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Textiles that Talk Back

Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare stretches the skewed notions of cultural authenticity and class hegemony to the limit in his theory-as-performace art. Indonesian batik textiles, passed off as traditional African gear adorn headless Victorian figures. The patterns, the colours and the entire setting of the installation talk back to empire, as much as they comment on contemporary notions of race and ethnicity (that are in turn intersected, intertwined with class and gender). The visual presence of the figures is omnipotent, but their headlessness usurps them and lets the viewer stare and imagine without fear of rebuke. I am tempted to touch the fabrics, tactile things that they are. But I remain on the border - between the spaces of the maker and the tourist. The hyphen can be a thriving home for creativity and tenacity.