By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

It’s difficult to verbalize, yet along write about the experience that signifies watching Mónica Savirón’s Broken Tongue. It’s as shocking as it is compelling, yet somehow disorienting and unnerving, enchanting and disturbing. Savirón herself calls this work “A heartfelt tribute to avant-garde sound performer Tracie Morris”, but beyond that, the narrative of the film plays with the fragmentation of the recited/singed poem, which itself transforms into a hybrid organism which reinvents its own meaning again and again, breathing through a Diamanda Galas-esque intonation which ups the dramatic effect of the film.

It all started
when we were brought here
as slaves
from Africa. 

The fragmentation and constant re-signification of the recited words, plays an impressive counterpoint with the relentlessly edited images of different covers of The New York Times, which range covers over a century of documented history. Hence, the effect of the visualization works on the subconscious mind and the preconceived notions of a motionless world, to heavily re-signify what our mere identity is, or what we believed it to be.

No country is alien to the different ways of migration that helped built its identity through history, neither its convoluted aftermaths, the history of violence and segregation, the historical struggles that ensued. And few films have inserted a dagger so deeply into the subconscious in this runtime.  There’s much to think, talk about and revisit in Mónica Saviron’s Broken Tongue, but frame by frame, it is very much a modern masterpiece of a film, a plethora of images and words deeply inserted into the avant-garde and a work that commands to be seen over and over again.

Filmed, Edited and Directed by Mónica Savirón
Sound Poem “Afrika” by Tracie Morris