question of sunlight (see below!)
A Question of Sunlight is a hauntingly strange film about memory
-- its harms, its powers, its lapses, its surprises. A man
of a dreadful thing he believes he saw -- and maybe he did. Around
this sole figure a fractal cloud of images come and go, as partial
and repetitive as memories. A unique and striking work.
Crowley, Novelist (Little, Big) Screenwriter (World of Tomorrow)
d e a f e n i n g
s i l e n c e
a film by holly fisher
TRT 118 mins
DVD available for preview only
(c)2012 Otherwise Pictures llc
all rights reserved
d e a f e n i n g s i l e n c e is a fusion of beauty and terror, observation and anger, roving visuals
and intimate stories either funny, contemplative, or horrific – a subjective, layered depiction of Burma under brutal
military dictatorship. My first trip was legal, shooting video as a fake tour guide doing research; the next was on foot,
under-cover with ethnic Karen guerrillas, to film internal exiles surviving in a free-fire jungle war zone.
Colonial archival imagery and clips
from You Tube are woven within this tapestry of fragments, often in ironic counterpoint, and always to pierce the chokehold
of censorship. This is a living history of a country arrested in time, a hybrid documentary focusing on ethnic genocide,
but with constant poetic resonance and a rich multiplicity of references to history and popular culture.
received February 11, 2013:
Holly Fisher's valuable and inspiring "Deafening Silence" uses the art of film (sensitive camera work,
unerring editing) to tell the story of Burma, a large multi-ethnic Asian nation finding ways to survive and overcome decades
of severe oppression. Interviews revealing some of the brightest minds of a generation in resistance are interspersed with
found footage and quirky, memorable images from streets, temples and shops, on a journey that winds through urban and jungle
landscapes. Her film contains indications of the current changes -- and current setbacks -- in Burma (aka Myanmar) and a
universal message of hope overcoming fear.
-- Edith Mirante, author of "Burmese
Looking Glass" and "Down the Rat Hole"
compelling vision of Burma is essential viewing for anyone interested in this fast-changing Southeast Asian country. The
military has softened its decades of strict dictatorship, but glimmers of democratic space may prove limited and even ephemeral.
... freedom of expression remains tenuous, and the army continues offensives against minority peoples whose human rights
have been particularly abused for decades. Deafening Silence offers images of and witness to life in Burma that daily
news reports, and even traditional documentaries, cannot. The film is reportage of another order that not only illustrates
harsh contrasts, but also illuminates its subjects in a manner that allows us to connect with them beyond the archetypal
media panoply of victims and heroes...."
Thomas R Lansner
Visiting Professor, School of International
Affairs, Sciences-Po Paris
Athens International Film Festival,
Saturday April 13, 2013
Brooklyn, April 6, 2013
Mass College of Art, January,
ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL
March 20, 2012
Museum of Women in the Arts
Blog/Review by Dan Schindel, written &
published just after DC screening, 3/20/12:
...this doc deserves to go places. Big places. Using footage from two trips she took to Burma
(one as a legitimate tourist and one covertly and illegally), news reports, YouTube videos,
interviews, and more, she crafts a nonfiction tone poem that feels more like Apocalypse
Now than any doc I can think of...
There are frequent moments of joy and grace, both small and large, captured in Deafening Silence. It’s
those small heartbeats, the candle in the wind of love against hate, right against might, that holds the truly unshakeable
hope for the future...
comments to the filmmaker
Yvonne Rainer, choreographer & filmmaker, March 2012
...Deafening Silence is a fascinating amalgam of print and image, facts and daily
life. I can't tell you enough how filled with admiration I am at your gumption to take on such a project and artistry in
carrying if off.
– from Bill Brand, filmmaker
...an amazing accomplishment...hard for me to even imagine mustering the fortitude to go back to that material
and spend the time and effort to make this new - and for me at least - truer film with it... thoroughly interwoven, slow
to reveal its development and structure, insistently visual first, deeply complex in its political and moral questions and
responses, and ultimately very satisfying... It will be hard as hell to get to an audience.
from Peter Kinoy, filmmaker/film
editor, Skylight Pictures
...what an interesting and successful combination of
experimental art film and political activist film Deafening Silence is. ...you have created a memorable film that challenges
the audience, and does not let them become complacent. Each time that you start people down a cinematic path, just
as we, as the viewer, are getting comfortable and relaxing into a scene you switch it up on us, exactly like in the turmoil
of real life.
But what keeps us ultimately tied to the phantasmagorical
deluge of imagery is your deep humanity, your compassion for the people and place, and your outrage against the murderous
regime. ...now you have to begin to penetrate the art world with this piece.
You are in a unique position to light a fire under a lot of people who will come to this film as a brilliant personal artistic
statement, and walk away with an increased desire to do something ... Deafening Silence is not your typical agitprop piece
(Thank god!) but there-in lies its strength.
trio en rose
10 minute experimental 3-screen short, by Holly Fisher,
music by Lois V Vierk -
available on VIMEO for instant viewing:
with José Urbach
music by Lois V Vierk
film by Holly Fisher
NTSC, TRT 88 minutes
DVD available for preview only
(c)2013 Otherwise Pictures LLCAll rights reserved.
A Question of Sunlight juxtaposes
the jarring memories of 9/11 with the haunting trauma of the Holocaust. We see and hear in vivid close-ups the artist José
Urbach as he relives the scenes of Nazi invasion in his childhood Poland when faced with the smoldering ruins of the World
Trade Towers on 9/11. In contrast to the many documentaries with interviews of Holocaust survivors that we have seen for
the past decade, this film moves us to locate the narrative within images of life. We hear of destruction, but see the bustle
of city life slowed down in a Parisian café or glanced through a window glistening in the sun. Life goes on, people
recoup their dignity and ability to create beauty, even as the images of death continue to haunt them.
Director of the Five College Women Studies Research Center
of German Studies, Critical Social Thought, and Gender Studies
The illusive formation of memory is the subject of Fisher's latest experimental feature, framed within a series of intimate and free-ranging discussions between herself
and fellow witness to the attacks on The World Trade Center, visual artist José Urbach. A Question of Sunlight links
9/11 with the holocaust, via 'the telling of memories' by Urbach who was witness to both. Video recordings
made in the shadow of the still-smoldering Trade Towers are laced within provocative images filmed over the next decade, in
this mind-bending inquiry into the slippery issues of truth, perception, and consequences...
speaks almost magically, from childhood to the present, and anywhere in between. He was
a Polish child born into the holocaust, and as he watched the first plane smash into The World Trade
Center from his
kitchen window in lower Manhattan, he had a radical flashback to his earliest childhood memories.
From a child's eye view he recalls former times, other windows...like the bombing of the Polish airport that triggered
the start of World War II. The uncanny irony is that he was in his mother's belly that day!
Unique to José’s telling is his desire to "actualize" his memories,
to make them present and timely. He tells his stories as if they were movies, in a continuous search for insight within the multiple veils of memory which still haunt him. This unsettling vacuum
between past and future is magnified as Fisher laces her personal or found images within Urbach's narrative – curtains flying out Paris windows,
"Shock & Awe" on airport TV, rare
archival footage by Joris Ivens from the seminal East German film Die Windrose – for resonance, or "just to lend a breath of
air..." Format here is deceptively simple – talking head/jumpcuts/spare imagery/minimal
sounds – but as the film plays out over time the viewer is drawn into the filmmaker's intricate weave of seen and/or imagined stories in a psychic co-existance of past and present, sandwiched
within the prospect of yet another pending war....
Dear Holly, (from Peter Kinoy, 2012)
I just finished watching "A Question of Sunlight." I like this film the best of all. Your
touch is so sure, your pacing eloquent.José is a truly beautiful person, and you bring out the best in him.
And what a successful marriage of two visions, yours and his...
your biggest fan,
WATERMEN, a documentary film by Holly Fisher & Romas V Slezas - 63 mins, 1965
Restored to Digital Video by Maryland Public TV, screened spring 2010 and 2011 by MPTV;
at The Environmenal Film Festival in The Nation's Capital, March, 2011
co-Director Holly Fisher introduced this
film that documents the lives of three generations
of Chesapeake Bay oyster fishermen who work
the last fleet of sailing workboats in North America.
(for purchase, questions, or other info)
is a work-in-progress...
on scrolling! hf)
e v e r y w h
e r e a t o n c e
directed by holly fisher & peter lindbergh
text by kimiko hahn
music by lois v vierk
TRT: 73 mins
(c) 2010 by Peter Lindbergh
blog by patty zimmerman: FLEFF - OPEN SPACES
November 13, 2009
Posted by Patricia Zimmermann at 4:14PM |
a film by Holly Fisher
"It's more about a kind of structuring, where the viewer
is at the center of the piece," offered experimental filmmaker and editor Holly Fisher. She described
her improvisational process in dealing with images and editing strategies: "It's a weave."
I am sitting in the art deco Alabama Theater in Houston, Texas,
at a workshop on Experimental Cinema and the Visual Arts on day two of the newly launched Houston
Cinema Arts Festival, curated by Richard Herskowitz. Holly Fisher and Jennifer Reeves
are discussing their films and their digital arts practices. They jettison narrative for layers of psychic and
emotional immersion, for a sense of liveness and tactility that transcends the image as representational.
They conjure the image as a threshold into sensual and psychic experience.
Last night, Fisher, an influential figure in American experimental and documentary
cinema (she was the editor of the landmark documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? in 1989 and
is the director of Bullets for Breakfast made in 1995), screened her new work Everywhere
at Once. It's what I would call a cinematic portrait of how women are visualized and idealized
in what the festival program says is a "sumptuous" film reflecting on
love, beauty and mortality. It felt like one of those only-in-Texas-bigger-than-life-screenings:
a difficult and demanding experimental work in a multiplex theater in downtown Houston, with
an image as big as the Texas sky, with great sound to boot. In this context, the film had an
epic quality few experimental films can sustain (so epic and operatic for the audience that none of us knew until
after the screening that the digital video had been mistakenly screening in 4 x 5 format rather than
the more horizontal 16 x9). All of the audience stayed for the discussion, utterly entranced.
Repurposing and conjuring the photographs of arts and movie stars by sophisticated
fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, Everywhere at Once features an evocative
voiceoiver written by poet Kimiko Hahn. The voice over is read by Jeanne Moreau, a major iconic figure of the
French New Wave. Her gravely voice contrasts with the sleek modernist fashion images. The film
is an opera of the everyday and the psychic labyrinths women inhabit. It's a film about
dreams, about feelings abandoned, inaccessible and lost. The first image of the film provides
a clue into its visual strategies: a woman is photographed from above in a fetal positon,
a spiral into the self where leg and hand and back transform into a spiral.
stunning Everywhere at Once, the interiority of the mind scrapes against the balanced
compositions of the photographs of women posed for glamor shots, modeling fashions, selling
films. A close up of Moreau's craggy, aging face repeats throughout. Is this a biography
of Moreau's psychic landscapes over time? Is this a fiction about aging, about the small moments
of life like hotel rooms and the textures of fabric on skin? Is it a film about memories floating down
the rivers of the mind and then bubbling out in the small details of life?
The film functions as a series of transformations and layers: photographs are spun and
lit with shadows, clips for Moreau's films waft like apparitions, post minimalist music comes
and goes. It's exquisite.
As Fisher shared in the post-screening discussion, the film
dances on the "edges between biography and fiction." After seeing Lindbergh's
photos (who shares a codirector credit with Fisher on Everywhere at Once), she told
him she wanted to rip the coffee table books apart--- the images where too pretty. With
a skilled animator, she played with light and shadows over the images in the studio, and plotted complex
moves across the photos that exorcise the images. It couldn't be further from Ken Burns, whose style treats
images like holy relics.
Fisher's oeuvre hovers between
rigorous structure and improvisational plays. Resonating with her other works,
Everywhere at Once is composed of layers: music, poetry, photographs, archival images, movie
clips, and the everyday. It's a film that takes large iconic images ladened with cultural associations
(images of Isabella Rossellini, the model Verushka, Moreau) and scrapes them down and washes
away their overderterminations.
In the question and answer
period, Fisher shared that when Jeanne Moreau saw Everywhere at Once in Paris, she turned
to the director and said, "You are a witch." Indeed, Fisher brews up the most complex yet evocative
order. She creates palimpsests, those scrolls where words and images are scraped and reused and
layered. Fisher is a sorceress of the palimpsest, that space that is comprised of many
spaces, many feelings, many journeys, many voices, many dislocations.