Lotus-Eyed Girl + Fugue + L’escale + A Movement Against the Transparency of the Stars of the Seas + Promised Lands


Firehouse Cinema Fri, May 5 5:00 PM
Q&A with Rajee Samarasinghe and Esy Casey
Film Info
Series:Prismatic Ground
Runtime:85 min
Series Link:https://firehousecinema.dctvny.org/prismaticground


Q&A with Rajee Samarasinghe and Esy Casey



2022 | 6 mins

Loosely based on the erotic poem “Caurapañcasika” by Bilhana, which was written in prison upon discovery of the poet’s clandestine affair with Princess Yaminipurnatilaka. The verses were written while awaiting judgment, not knowing if he was to be executed or exiled—his fate is unknown. “Lotus-Eyed Girl” ruminates on the curious and fractured intersections of death, desire, and class. Fading family photographs (from an uncle’s funeral to my mother on her wedding day), pomegranate arils, pulsating floral mandalas, and horror atmospherics culminate into an ecstatic collision of death and longing—echoing devastations of the past. Through principles of psychogeography, the systems of power that shape identity and desire, in the way that colonialism has altered human perception, are examined in an undulating and capricious form. – Rajee Samarasinghe



John Gianvito | 2023 | 15 mins

A man hikes through late-winter woods. Russia invades Ukraine. It’s difficult to reconcile the scales of action described by those sentences, but this difficulty is what John Gianvito dwells on in his new video. It may simply be that this is a diary, movingly plain and provisional in construction, which recounts what its author did for a few months last year: he watched a war on the internet and went outside. Even if that’s true, such a description makes Gianvito’s images seem less strange than they are. - Phil Coldiron



Collectif Faire-part | 2022 | 14 mins

Filmmakers Paul Shemisi and Nizar Saleh travel from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Germany for the screening of their new film. During a layover in Angola, they're stopped at the airport because the airline doesn't trust their documents to be real. While Paul and Nizar think they are being led to a hotel, where they would stay until their flight back home , they are actually being taken to an illegal detention center.



Esy Casey | 2023 | 30 mins

“I split in two,” the narrator of Esy Casey’s two-channel film says, as she crosses the Pacific, “one of flesh, one made of pixels.” The pixels, via texts and video messages, travel back home to the Philippines while the flesh remains confined to a house in California where she works as a cleaner, “erasing traces” of existence rather than being allowed to embody it. Casey frames this portrait of migration with dual histories of imports and exports, the value of silver and a statue of Christ brought by Magellan measured against the present-day lives of women who leave en masse to work as domestic laborers around the globe. Dance, free movement, is put in dialogue with the practiced work happening in the American household’s ascetic interior. - Mackenzie Lukenbill



Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (1976-2023) | 2015 | 20 mins

In Memoriam. Promised Lands centers a landscape descending into sunset as its main protagonist, accompanied by the often dissenting voices of narrator and subtitles. These voices struggle over possible meanings and derivative stories that stream out like estuaries from the obstinate trees and mountains. Their struggle to 'tell the story' echoes the struggles borne from the ghosts of colonialism, or the project to gain narrative power over a land and its peoples. Amongst swirls of Western art history references, political polemics, and neo-romanticism, Wolukau-Wanambwa inserts tender moments of resolve that nestle in the sounds of nature, or in a nearly inaudible conversation recorded between Emma and an Elder; what speaks truest is most silent. As Wolukau-Wanambwa suggests towards the end of Promised Lands, to be promised is not so much a blessing, but rather the condition of being spoken for. - Andros Zins-Browne


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