REVIEW: BAMcinématek’s Migrating Forms (12/13/13)

BAMcinématek, Migrating Forms, December 13, 2013
written by Kristen Bisson, Social Media Assistant, The Living Gallery

I returned from a night at BAMcinématek just moments ago. I had joined my friend Andrea Chen for screening of “The Unity of All Things” (2013). (She is one of the actresses in the film.) We enjoyed viewing the film and chatting about her experiences in the filming of it, and subsequently her viewing of it in its entirety. Sometimes, even for the actors, this is the first time they’ve seen the films they star in.

The film itself was surreal, dreamlike, bizarre, funny, sentimental, philosophical, and an interesting take on the idea of science fiction. The directors, Daniel Schmidt and Alexander Carver, spoke after the screening, and discussed how they went about the idea of science fiction as a genre in terms of this film. Rather than the construction of a whole new world or a whole new society in order to talk about certain issues, which can be typical of science fiction, they decided to take what was already existing as structures and shift it slightly, taking what we already know as reality and dipping it into the unusual.

The description from the website states:

In their debut feature, Daniel Schmidt and Alexander Carver crafted this utopian science fiction allegory about the development of a massive particle collider intended to probe the origin of the universe. Taking the instability of everything from identity to gender to history to the image itself as a starting point, the film follows two teenage boys as they visit their mother, an expatriated Chinese physicist, in the US. As their journey spans from Jiuzhai Valley in China to the Sonoran desert, it reveals the alienation and otherness beneath the surface of all things.

I stayed for the second screening of the night, Migrating Forms Program 2. The films that were shown included: “Birds” (2012) 17 Minutes (Directed by Gabriel Abrantes), “Utskor: Either/Or” (2013) 8 Minutes (Directed by Laida Lertxundi), “Not Blacking Out, Just Turning the Lights Off” (2012) 16 Minutes (Directed by James Richards), and:

“A Breakdown and After the Mental Hospital” (1982) 26 Minutes
(Directed by Anne Charlotte Robertson)
In this harrowing self-portrait, Super-8 master Anne Charlotte Robertson lucidly narrates footage of the daily routines and rituals that governed her last breakdown.BAMcinématek

“Emily Died” (1994) 27 Minutes
(Directed by Anne Charlotte Robertson)
Possibly Anne Charlotte Robertson’s most devastating film, Emily Died chronicles the death of her young niece. Set in the spring, Robertson seeks solace in her garden as Emily’s death sends her spinning toward another breakdown.BAMcinématek

I scribbled some notes in the dark as I was viewing the above short films. Ultimately, of those five films, I think I was struck most by both of Anne Charlotte Robertson’s creations. My rambling reflection will be for the both of these films:

There were simultaneous dialogues happening in the films, and one could pick up pieces of both, but one was obviously louder and clearer than the other, and you had to struggle to get small sections of the second overlapping dialogue. The video shifted, often quickly, amongst different moments in time, going from self-reflection, to family portrait, to environmental observations, to philosophical and metaphorical inquiries, and the experience of a range of emotion from joy, to curiosity, to anger, to helplessness, to fear, to obsession, etc. The fragments of her life, the people in it, her environment, her situation, all of which pointed to and revealed something very raw and very real about the human experience and in particular her mental experience.

In Emily Died, she said things like, “All we have are pictures now,” and “I hope there is a heaven,” “I hope I believe in God, and I hope I believe in heaven.” She then talked about how she wished to help children, to care for them, to be pregnant, but that her age, medications, and mental states wouldn’t allow her to experience the things that she longed for. She was distraught over Emily’s death. She expressed guilt for thinking about other things, rather than thinking about Emily’s death. She would wonder why she thought she herself was allowed to think about food, or her weight, or her own problems, when something so tragic had happened to someone she cared about.

“Significance” was a frequently heard word. We’re invited to contemplate along with her as she thought out loud, narrating her mind and the events in her life. Her train of thought seemed fluid and unhindered. Moments in the films were funny, poetic, thought-provoking, sentimental, troubling, sweet, serious, philosophical, uncomfortable, etc.

The night’s films gave me a lot to chew on.

I will be going to the following film screenings:

Conor O’Brien, also of The Living Gallery, will be going to these screenings:

Please, go check out BAMcinématek’s film series, Migrating Forms!
Let us know in the comments about what you’ve seen or plan to see.

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2 thoughts on “REVIEW: BAMcinématek’s Migrating Forms (12/13/13)

  1. Pingback: REVIEW: BAMcinématek’s Migrating Forms (12/13/13) » In Defense of Optimism

  2. Pingback: REVIEW: BAMcinématek’s Migrating Forms (12/17/13) | The Living Gallery

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