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Lights, Camera, Peace: films4peace 2013 Screening at NLS Kingston
"It's important to understand that peace has been explored in a very abstract way," Deborah Azinger, founder of New Local Space (NLS) (Kingston) said during her opening remarks of the screening of films4peace 2013. It was a caution well taken under advisement as the six curated films in the annual event were generally abstract, very abstract.
On first watch, it seemed that the night’s first film had journeyed down a rabbit hole I dared not enter. The film was created by assume vivid astro focus and directed by the group’s founder Eli Sudbrack. However, a second look at home (where the sound was now trapped and the image that had been diffused on the NLS screen was sharper and clearer) highlighted the film’s message through the discordant, frantic soundtrack, the pop culture focus on and celebration of guns and the final explosion of gaudy consumerism.
Alas, I remain unsure of Wilmer Wilson’s piece and while I think Athi-Patra Ruga’s film is pretty (which I know is not the point) I have no idea what it has to do with peace. Rob Carter’s animation is intriguing, in large part because one cannot escape noticing the skill and imagination it takes to transform the landscape and edifices which he superimposes on each other. Then, once you realize that the building he imposes on the serene landscape is an old Nazi concentration camp, its resonance multiplies.
Anthony Goicolea’s film presented a window into group violence transposing the destruction of a piñata by blindfolded children into a more disturbing scene of a mob greedily destroying a beautiful thing and ripping its heart out. Only when it is destroyed are they able to see what they have done.
Although she explores the murder of transgendered people in South Africa, Zanele Muholi’s film certainly resonates with Jamaica, particularly with the recent incidents of violence against cross-dressing men in the country. The wail which punctuates Muholi’s work is certainly a familiar sound, whether for what Muholi styles as “queericide” or for homicide.
The NLS screening also included four films from Jamaican filmmakers: Varun Baker, Nile Saulter and Storm Saulter. Nile Saulter’s film Pillowman is currently included in the New Roots exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica, while Baker’s work is related his photography in the same exhibition. The inclusion of both works at the film4peace screening, added an intriguing dimension to the works, taking away some of their documentary focus and instead commenting on peace of mind.
While Baker’s skills as a photographer far exceeds his budding exploration of film, getting to hear the subject of the still images speak for himself, and not just through the photographer’s lens has allowed the artist to strengthen his voice and deepen the message.
Barkers’ short film surrounds Joshua Brown, a quadruple amputee who is trying to get prosthetics so that he can have a greater level of independence.
"In all of my dreams, I'm normal,” Brown says, “I never dream and see myself like this." It is a haunting statement made even more powerful as it allows you to question how a once active man makes peace with becoming a quadriplegic.
Similarly, the inclusion of Nile Saulter’s documentary, allowed you to focus on his subject, Leonard Smith, in the context of how he views his own life. It is interesting to watch a man who eeks out a living on the street corner and lives in a shack in the hills declare that life is good and his future is bright.
Storm Saulter had two short films. The first showcases a stunt rider who approximates very relaxed poses as he rides his bike along the country roads, steering with his feet. The final piece, Inna Di Dance, veered from Saulter’s usual style. The short film was a quirky slice of dancehall made more intriguing for the pace at which it is edited and the contrast between the movement and the music. Yet while it was entertaining to watch, its inclusion in the night may have resulted from a confusion of “getting piece” with achieving peace.
films4peace, a project produced by Shooting People and funded by PUMA, is currently in its third year. NLS’ screening is Kingston’s second participation in the event which has received global traction.
NB: Edited for corrections: September 24, 2013