So many voices in the silence now

By Wilder Zumarán

The films of the Program 3, Other voices other rooms, of the Crossroads Film Festival 2019 are very heterogeneous among them. However, they have as a common denominator a particular position on the look, the image, the representation. These are films that impose a way of seeing cinema that works in turn as a political stance against the hegemonic gaze. They are films that seek to denaturalize the way we have become accustomed to feel, that question our experience. From the recording of a natural phenomenon to the attempt to rewrite the past, from an ethnographic approach, to a proposal for a virtual approach to geography, the set of works in this exhibition share a spirit of disruption.

In Polly One (2018), by Kevin Jerome Everson, we are presented with two silent planes of an eclipse for six minutes. In the first one , we see a crescent-shaped beam of light behind moving clouds. In the second, in a slightly more open plane, what we see is the halo of light from that beam, which in turn has formed small reflections when recorded by the camera. Everson, with the construction of that simple mechanism, invites us to contemplation, to a re-vision of that natural light phenomenon. And, in this way, he seems to propose the mechanical recording of the image (which has worn out and de-subjectivized the experience we have of that type of phenomena) as a possible tool to reopen us to the experience of contemplation, to see something through the first time, the revelation of a “truth”. Because our light perception of the world, which we obtain through the eyes, is as arbitrary as that recorded by the lens of a camera. And in both cases the result may (or may not) be of great beauty.

A Room With a Coconut View (2018), by Tulapop Saenjaroen, begins with a shot that we see through the window of a hotel in Bangsaen, a tourist town in Thailand. We hear two computerized voices. The Kanya, an automated tourist guide, tell us that we are in a room with a view to the sea, before which Alex, a tourist, ironically says that it should be called room with a coconut view, because the view of the beach is hidden by coconut trees. From that seemingly banal anecdote, the main idea of ??the film is constructed: there is in our form of perception of the world a difference between what we see and the imposed meaning, interpreted socially. Following this line, throughout the film we see how we reflect on the figures of tourism, vacations, the postal image, among others, with all the social, political and economic implications that they entail, achieving a questioning about how an image can channel the way in which space is understood, the world. Thus, the film proposes itself as an experience of denaturalization of the tourist gaze.

With The Labyrinth (2018), Laura Huertas Millán continues to explore her interest in the ethnographic narrative that she has been working on since her previous projects. Structured from the testimony of Cristóbal Gómez, a former employee of Evaristo Porras, leader of the Amazon Cartel, the narrative is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the rise and the arriving of the drug trafficker, as well as his extravagances, among which he highlights having built a replica of the mansion of the American TV series Dynasty. Here lies a relationship between the backwardness of a colonial system and the most sordid form of capitalism, drug trafficking. In addition, the explicit association of a melodrama such as Dynasty with these ruins seems to affirm, in turn, the deterioration of a narrative system, before which the director proposes a break in the story in which the testimony of Cristóbal Gómez, who until now had been aware of this past so seemingly alien, takes a digression on how after a near-death experience this seemed “very beautiful”. What remains is the labyrinth and the invitation to a trip.

Finally, two written testimonies open So many voices in the silence now (2018), by Cristiana Miranda. The first is Esperança Garcia, a slave who lived in the eighteenth century; the second,  Carolina Maria de Jesus, a famous poet who lived in the favelas of Sao Paulo in the first half of the 20th century. Both are testimonies of a precarious situation linked to some form of violence inflicted against them, an inability to agency. Throughout the history of cinema, the way in which pain and violence of this type have been portrayed seems to be reduced to the picturesqueness of “based on a real history”, the films of historicist justification, which often are being based on discourses of those who did not suffer the described pains, simplifying them. Faced with this, Cristiana Miranda proposes an attempt at recreation, representation, rewriting of these stories. Without giving an identity to the women who are shown to us and, in turn, explaining the mechanisms of fiction (the type of clothing, the form of dance, the dyed hair), the film appeals to the deterioration of the filmic material itself, together with the figures of the women who dance until they seem impressed in the image by brush strokes or whips, which are also deteriorated. Thus, against the weight of the traumas of the past, a position has changed: what the film shows us is not hardship, but rather a song, an answer to that pain, to that struggle, from the contemporaneity. While the credits appear, the music, the ritual, continues. This film is made almost entirely by women. That something like that is possible, is the message.