Visions of an Island (2016)

Portrait of an Aleutian island, interview of a local man with attention to language and landscape and animal life. Doubling and overlaps, adding and removing sounds, manipulating the colors (with a cool moment where you see the before and after). A town in the sky, the sea in the sky. Seals and jellyfish… this has got everything.


Space Without Path or Boundary / Anti-Objects (2017)

Rough/archival sound recordings, and rough audio editing to go with it. Wilderness and city, with some of the most abstract color-field, motion-smear and hand-marked imagery I’ve seen yet from Hopinka. Focused less around descriptive text like the last one, more conceptual.


Fainting Spells (2018)

A whole different sort of thing. Letters written to a friend (who sometimes passes out) scroll from right to left, while the imagery ranges from vertical landscapes seen through an eyeball lens to invisible hooded persons against abstract backdrops to roads along burned-up hills to all sorts of landscapes.


Lore (2019)

At band practice playing a Bo Diddley song, but more usually, on an overhead projector shuffling through colored films, a poetic correspondence spoken throughout.

Dawn: very sweet drone shots, then when we reach the ground, a Ben Russell follow-cam in reverse (literally, Ben is the cinematographer on this), music very droney. Woman walks through fruit trees then a large house, adjusting things here and there… I get the impression she doesn’t live in the house but works there. We recede from the grounds, then Sky Hopinka reads us some words about home and place and loss.

Noon: Inside a different house, a black man sings Dixie for the mostly-white others – ah, they’re all rehearsing something. Bald neck-tattoo guy casually walks in and out of houses and conversations, nobody seems to mind him.

Dusk: Much of the movie is in reverse. We see some ouroboros drawings to remind us what we’re watching. Bald guy seems oddly peaceful for someone with the word RIOT tattooed on his wrist.

Night, then Dusk, then Noon again. Fifty minutes in, our man asks “would you like to see a magic trick” – is this the first time he’s spoken? A phantom ping-pong match is unexpected, ghostly superimpositions, Metamorphosis of Birds leaf-play, a drone in a fancy sitting room that turns out to be diegetic. The movie ends quite wonderfully with a dance remix of itself!

Droneman:

The official description says it “turns the destruction of Gaza into a story of heartbreak,” and says our lead guy is Diego Marcon, an ontology-questioning visual artist whose latest short played Rotterdam.

Michael Sicinski:

We don’t know anything more about our traveler than we did when we began, but Alsharif has provided us with a utopian conception of lived space. In cinema, perhaps, begins responsibility.


Deep Sleep (2014, Basma Alsharif)

Trancefilm, again shot with Ben Russell in Palestine and elsewhere. Footsteps, and columns, and pointing. Like the feature, it slips between locations. Picture (and sometimes sound) will have full-color flicker freakouts.

Opening musician was Ada Lea, a mumbly solo acoustic guitarist, who may have been missing some instruments or equipment in transit. Opening short was Distancing by Miko Revereza… talking with family about flying direct to Philippines on a one-way ticket, after the events of No Data Plan, which I tried to watch on the flight to Columbia, but it’s hard watching a slow film about transit, while in transit, while on dramamine. In prep for the move, Revereza makes a show of ripping his discs of Casablanca, Chungking Express, a Chantal Akerman, while film clips play on the soundtrack. When the picture glitches out and the A-G tendencies take over, the sound succumbs to the standard practice of taking ugly electric noise and letting it buzz and fuzz for way too long. After this, I was delighted to discover that our feature had the best sound design of anything we saw this week.

Our final screening so we stayed for the Q&A… Hopinka was not trying to manage equal representation and balance between all genders and types of people, but not not doing that either. He’s being opaque about his intentions on purpose, for instance telling us there’s more to the fable he quotes, but he cut it off on purpose, because this is as much of the story as should be told in regular circumstances. “People think that just because knowledge exists, they have the right to know it.” Fighting back against anthropological history with his storytelling methods, long takes as unprivileged participant, brightly saturated colors. I got exhausted with some shots/scenes, but unlike the rest of today’s movies, I felt like I could live inside it for a while, and never wanted to nap. Instead, the Ben Russell-ish handheld camera made me want to go shoot something while playing with the contrast setting… I thought of Katy and drawers, Jonas Mekas (mentioned a couple times this week, including in this film), Shorts Club, diary films, haiku video. Someone lend me a gimbal.