Film screening presented by WNDX Festival of Moving Image
Guest curated by Christina Hajjar
October 9, 2021
Themes of family, memory, and destruction ground this collection of sci-fi and documentary short films. The remembrance or anticipation of loss probes possibilities for immortalizing and memorializing loved ones. Moments and places are revisited before, during, and after the end of the world. New forms of connection emerge. At times, tensions flare against philosophies on nostalgia and existentialism. Through unexpected conversations, new technologies, and expansive imaginaries, this program ruminates on death, love, and apocalypse. What truths are inscribed on the waking heart? In the presence of absence, what does longing inspire?
The video documents a conversation between a family of three, in which they plan their survival in the event of an apocalypse. The conversation revolves around an imaginary situation where they would be the only human survivors and later, encountering an unknown being. Visually weaving the conversation through the site of an urban development in South Korea, the narrative unfolds with the disclosure of one’s simulated response to the notions of migration, integration, and community.
Odorless Blue Flowers Awake Prematurely is the dystopia-as-documentary rather than fiction, since, for many inhabitants of this world the apocalypse is not a future possibility but a historical reality. The short documentary essay explores Beirut’s overlooked and marginalized areas affected by the blast on August 4, 2020. These areas sit on the banks of the city’s river, which in turn became a conductor for the blast’s wave as it is devoid of barriers. It is as if the explosion came to announce the end of the world to a population already afflicted by a global pandemic, resource scarcity, and food shortage. There is nowhere to go, no way to smell the blooming flowers, and not much to be said. In this moment of staggering powerlessness, how does one make a film about the end of the world?
Conceptualized and created from the found audio documenting a day in the life of the artist’s mother and themself at 16 months, a n c e s t o r a d i o is an experimental film triptych exploring the confluence of archival memories, inherited grief and their vibrations into the movements of present life and liberation dreams. Two years after this recording and a few months short of her 40th birthday, the artist’s mother passed away, transitioning into ancestor. tuning the ocean (i) reaches a net into the static filling the space where memories should live, but do not. With each dip into the deep, electric water, wisps of memory left after their mother’s death float through the weave and are dissolved back into the writhing water mass. Buoyed by a submarinic aural landscape, tuning the ocean (i) submerges our ancestral antenna, divining a frequency, searching for a clear channel.
In Vitro is set in the aftermath of an eco-disaster. An abandoned nuclear reactor under the biblical town of Bethlehem has been converted into an enormous orchard. Using heirloom seeds collected in the final days before the apocalypse, a group of scientists are preparing to replant the soil above. In the hospital wing of the underground compound, the orchard’s ailing founder, 70-year-old Dunia is lying in her deathbed, as 30-year-old Alia comes to visit her. Alia is born underground as part of a comprehensive cloning program and has never seen the town she’s destined to rebuild.
Sampling lines from the Taiwanese New Wave film Yi Yi, those borrowed words, those intergenerational whisperings in Chinese dialect, had me pondering on how ancestors and descendants create bridges—across time, and across global, diasporic space. These bridges feel all too easily invisible, but what would it look like if we were strolling on them? What if we jumped off? Would we create another bridge, or open up a new dimension? A music video for OHYUNG’s track, now i close my eyes the world i see is so beautiful begins with a self-conducted ritual, initiating a process of remembrance and imagining. What follows are the adventures the many versions of my 爷爷 / yeye / grandfather and I have, roaming around together in different worlds.