This screening features three short films that simultaneously consider a place, and the forces that have shaped perceptions and conditions of that place – whether these are colonial histories, myths or cultural projections. Drawing together past and present, east and west, these films pay keen attention to displacements and translations of culture.
Ana Vaz’s Occidente goes in search of Brazil’s colonial history by observing various aspects of Portuguese contemporary culture – giant wave surfers, life in the port of Lisbon, colonial-era porcelain and tableware, and the subtle power dynamics between a group of Portuguese diners and a Brazilian maid. Cultural products circulate as reproducible readymades, colonial norms are applied and reapplied.
Ben Russell’s Atlantis is both a portrait of the island of Malta and the titular mythical place that, according to local claims, may exist sunken beneath its surface. The film’s fragmented narrative features folk songs, pagan ceremonies and secular trance rituals, revealing utopian impulses within the island’s past and present.
Gabriel Abrantes’ Birds [Oρνιθες] documents his attempts to stage Aristophanes’ play The Birds in Jacmel, Haiti, using costumes made by local artisans. The locals quickly lose their patience with his rather excessive approach. The film intertwines myth and prose into a complex narrative about post-colonial critique, questions of representation and cultural projections.
Ana Vaz, Occidente 2014, HD and Super 16mm transferred to HD, shown as DCP, colour, sound, 16 min, Portuguese with English subtitles
Ben Russell, Atlantis 2014, 16mm transferred to HD, shown as DCP, colour, sound, 24 min, English and Maltese with English subtitles
Gabriel Abrantes, Birds [Oρνιθες] 2013, Super 16mm transferred to HD, shown as DCP, colour, sound, 17 min, Haitian Creole and Attic Greek with English subtitles
Discussion with Ana Vaz and Ben Russell, moderated by Aily Nash, Co-curator, NYFF Projections, and Program Advisor, International Film Festival Rotterdam