This entry was posted on August 4th, 2017

Engram of Returning – (Daichi Saito, 2015)

by José Sarmiento-Hinojosa

Proof of the outstanding reach of the Media City Film Festival in Detroit, is the remarkable variety of styles in contemporary experimental cinema, a feat that is possible via the efforts of an outstanding team, headed by Oona Mosna, which has attempted and achieved a fine selection in this edition of 2017. Following are a group of texts devoted to share a glimpse of what expanded cinema has to offer today in the 22th edition of the MC.

The poly choral, multi colored puzzle of passages and atmospheres that is Daïchi Saïto’s Engram of Returning (2015), this pulsating heart of atmospheres musicalized by a slowly buzzing drone that accelerates and decelerates, could be in itself a lesson on learning to see again, of a new perception of the cosmos akin to the experiments Brakhage was doing in the Dante Quartet, but related to a different mythology: the myth of nature itself and its representation through a synesthetic process whose contemplation leads to catharsis, or mere nirvana. Engram of Returning is vast in its possibilities of being: rhythms, patterns, colors, images, elements that conjugate a complex significance, almost a riddle that needs to be solved internally. A question, or merely a statement, a poetic atmosphere, or a visual poem.

Pablo Mazzolo’s NN (2014/2017) is a document of travel that tangentially touches the oeniric, a necessary passage to rescue ourselves (and our memory) from obvlivion. Think of a stripped bare Ulysses in the Subway, where only the velocity of entering a dream via a subway tunnel or the abstract reflection of people that slowly build an image. The subject of trains or subways will always be an intriguing feature of experimental cinema: Benning’s RR, or Gina Telaroli’s Travelling Light, among others are examples of using this travel log, this space where the mind enters a state of immersion which is particularly special in Mazzolo’s Super 8 film, because of it’s main goal: to make us remember. NN, a synonym for anonymity, is a declaration of the ethereal, of the ticking moment of encounter where the eye meets a body in transit, a moment in a dream, or an observation of the mind, to remind us of the images, never clear, of the deceased in the Argentinian 76′ coup.

Amérika: Bahía de las Flechas (Ana Vaz, 2016)

Also engraved in the theme of atmospheres but with different objectives and and connotations is Ana Vaz’s latest short film, Amérika: Bahía de las Flechas (2016), which returns again to the subject of post-colonialism and territory so well known and worked by the Brazilian filmmaker. A question prevails among the terrain of Samaná, old disembarking place of Columbus, a sort of desertic graveyard, a place which seems to reject the presence of man, while Vaz’s camera inverts the passage to declare that indeed, the sky is falling, imminent disaster is near, a gesture that challenges our perception and allows for a reflection on the terrain: once inhabited by the Taino Tribe, the ground was place of confrontation, and witness of the clash of two civilizations. This “vibration” or movement of the territory allows for further thinking, where geology and history merge, and where the “above and below” are representations that match the position of constant instability.

Friedl Kubelka (vom Gröller), one of Austria’s most accomplished visual artists, creates a contrast of death/birth in the idyllic images of her film By Night to Light (Durch Nacht Zumicht2016). The stark images of a naked graveyard are juxtaposed with perceptions of childhood, of images that predate a innocent gaze but are deeply rooted in the fixation of death, of immobility, of surrealistic moments where images and people seem fixated like in nightmares or unresolved dreams. By Night to Light represents the impossibility of memory, a building of a representation that cannot be completed. It is unnerving and exciting, like watching life blossom, or a corpse deteriorating.

Engram of Returning
Artist: Daïchi Saïto
Country: Japan/Canada
Format: 35mm Cinemascope
Duration: 18.5 min
Year: 2015

Artist: Pablo Mazzolo
Country: Argentina
Format: S8mm
Duration: 2.5 min
Year: 2017

Artist: Ana Vaz
Country: Brazil
Format: 16mm > digital
Duration: 9 min
Year: 2016

Durch Nacht zum Licht
Artist: Friedl vom Gröller
Country: Austria
Format: 16mm
Duration: 3 min
Year: 2016