Chris Kennedy

“Fern Silva: You Only Live Twice”. July 15, 2014

Fern Silva: You Only Live Twice

Taking up a longstanding tradition of the avant-garde, the films of Fern Silva constitute a restless travelogue of a filmmaker exploring the world—but this is a far different world than that of Silva’s cinematic forebears, one pervaded by a post-millenial tension that no longer allows one the privilege of looking without consequence. Aware of this danger, Silva casts sidelong glances in his films, tempering his desire to experience the world head-on with an acute (and often humorous) awareness of the compromised situation of being a traveller in a foreign land.

Born in the US but of Portuguese heritage, Silva understands that the romance of Old World cultures and traditions can be glimpsed and alluded to, but never truly returned to (a theme he addresses most explicitly in Servants of Mercy, a portrait of his family’s now elderly gardener framed by the chanted lines of a Fernando Pessoa poem on exile). Those remnants of the past that Silva is able to capture constantly slip away like apparitions of what once was, troubling our sense of the now and never allowing us to find any resolution between us and them, old and new. The films in this programme, made over a prolific five-year period as Silva entered his thirties, give us both exotic beauty (the balloon ride in Passage Upon the Plume is one of the most sublime cinematic moments in recent memory) and absurd invention (the magic carpet that takes us through Concrete Parlay reminds us of the existential trap of seeking out that very same beauty), as Silva’s instinctual juxtapositions take the viewer ever deeper into a provocative mélange of sights and sounds.

Tender Feet dir. Fern Silva | USA 2013 | 10 min. | 16mm
Servants of Mercy dir. Fern Silva | USA 2010 | 14 min. | video
Sahara Mosaic dir. Fern Silva | USA 2009 | 10 min. | 16mm
Concrete Parlay dir. Fern Silva | USA 2012 | 18 min. | 16mm
Passage Upon the Plume dir. Fern Silva | USA 2011 | 10 min. | 16mm

Approx. total running time: 62 min.

Fern Silva in person.

Tuesday, July 15 6:30pm