Beginning Friday, the Film Society will be presenting the NYFF sidebar section Projections. Formerly known as Views from the Avant-Garde and curated by Dennis Lim (Director of Programming, Film Society of Lincoln Center), Aily Nash (independent curator), and Gavin Smith (Senior Programmer, FSLC & Editor-in-Chief, Film Comment), Projections “presents an international selection of artists’ film and video work that expands upon our notions of what the moving image can do or be. Drawing on a broad range of innovative modes and techniques, including experimental narratives, avant-garde poetics, crossovers into documentary and ethnographic realms, and contemporary art practices.”
FilmLinc Daily viewed a handful of pieces in this year's lineup and asked directors a few questions about their work. This chat with Wayward Fronds director Fern Silva launches our spotlight on some of the films that will be seen this weekend.
Of his film, which is part of Friday's Projections Program 1, Silva said: “Mermaids flip a tale of twin detriments, domiciles cradle morph invaders, crocodile trails swallow two-legged twigs in a fecund mash of nature's outlaws… down in the Everglades.”
FilmLinc Daily: The film flows between drastically different environments, taking the viewer to a variety of places. What was your approach to the order in which they're presented?
Fern Silva: My main approach was to reference a series of historical events that helped shape the Florida Everglades today, while fictionalizing its geological future and its effects on both native and exotic inhabitants. My interest in exploring this was influenced by recent talks to finally disperse billions of dollars in restoration funds, I then thought about the possibilities of a future eco-flourished Everglades that engulfs civilization along the way. With the exception of a bit of foreshadowing, the film suggests a chronological order of historical events specific to the Everglades.
FL: How do you hope audiences will react to the juxtaposition of nature and man's occupation of nature presented in the film?
FS: Well, in reference to the last question, events in my film imply that nature begins to take over, that the Everglades, switches roles and tames civilization after centuries of attack, and even guides it into its mysterious aqueous depths, forcing humans to adapt and evolve to its surroundings.
FL: The sound of the film is especially mesmerizing, it submerses the audience into each environment visited. How did you approach the visual imagery to accompany the dynamic soundscape?
FS: I cut my picture first, and started to piece together my sound, which is mostly made up of field recordings. Since I shoot with a 16mm Bolex, that doesn't record sound, it ultimately provides a blank canvas for all the audible possibilities that can occur in any given scene.
That limitlessness, that non-originated association, forces a blend of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds and a mixture of ambience and room tone that otherwise wouldn't be there, an L cut and foley can go a very long way in creating associations, so these tools are what I think about moving forward in attempting to create an immersive environment for the viewer.