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Er is een geest van mij

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1 February 2021


Two politically charged Dutch films compete in IFFR Tiger Shorts Competition 2021; Ghita Skali's absurdist The Hole's Journey and Mateo Vega's Er is een geest van mij.

Er is een geest van mij

Mateo Vega's 6-minute Er is een geest van mij started life as a Dutch/Spanish poem before it took cinematic form. The film is both complex and melancholic, visually audacious and polemical, and comprises the lament of ghosts who have witnessed the fires of Lima and the return of fascism to the US post-2016, and have heard tales of the past "whispered by the abandoned houses of Amsterdam." As we are shown evidence of microscopic human decay, we are also told, metaphorically or otherwise, how the ghosts haunt the head, the body and the guts of the film's narrator as well.

For Vega the work is "an attempt to mourn personal and political futures that never arrived."

"At the core I would say I'm very interested in using quite expressive, poetic, and stylised forms of (visual) storytelling, but in a way that they always refer back to a materialist critique of a concrete, political reality," he further explains.

The film is particularly prescient in its lyrical appraisal of contemporary politics, especially in its Washington DC sequences, originally shot in 2016 as people gathered in the city to protest against the then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"It was kind of crazy to see the [recent] storming of the Capitol in relation to the film, since there's a sequence in it that we shot right in front of it," the director stresses of a work that is undoubtedly very much of the moment. "At the time I was hoping to visually represent a destructive presence entering mainstream politics. Five years later it's clear that white nationalism and far-right views are very much part of the basic political landscape."

"In general, these are times where issues like the pandemic, climate change, and rising inequality make it very, very clear that capitalist promises of progress and globalisation are falling flat time and time again, and destroying a lot in their wake. In that sense there's a lot of lost futures to mourn and a lot of work that needs to happen in terms of imaging alternative ones," he underlines.

The Hole's Journey

In The Hole's Journey by filmmaker and artist Ghita Skali, absence is continually present in the form of an eponymous hole created in the office of the director of De Ateliers art institution in Amsterdam. For 23 years the director had sat in the same spot and the wheels of his chair had left their indelible trace on the wooden floor. In the film, the worn planks are removed and sent to Skali's homeland of Morocco where they eventually occupy a new space, and find a new purpose.

"It is this trace that I am sending to Morocco," comments Skali. Ironically, the wood was allowed to cross borders more feely than humans during the pandemic.

The film is funny and engaging, but has a very serious undertow.

Throughout, Skali reflects on the value of art and representation - why, for example should her mother's WhatsApp pictures of what she sees on her television be deemed less or more worthy than images offered up for wider consumption within the art world? "Why can we not find these images interesting? Why aren't these images inside a museum, as [are] many images made by women from this generation, but from other territories?" Skali asks.

In the film, the director also harbours grave fears for her friend Omar Radi, a journalist and human rights activist who combats land expropriation and predation (plundering) across Morocco, and who has been imprisoned on what seem to be trumped up charges by the Moroccan authorities, despite appeals by Amnesty International.

The work is characterised therefore both by a sense of absurdism and a strong dose of what Skali terms ‘derision'. "How do you deal with these injustices?" she asks of the land expropriation, and of the incarceration of Omar who is exposing these wrongs. "How do you work [around] it? How can I do something as an artist knowing that these situations are filling me with rage?...How can I do that knowing perfectly that a western art world is expecting me to exoticize my place of birth?"

"Again, I think derision helps me often to step aside from a pornography of the misery, from a victimhood narrative and to experiment another way of raising questions about these topics."

Er is een geest van mij - IFFR P&I screening: Mon 1 Feb 09:00 CET until Sun 7 Feb 09:00 CET (part of Ammodo Tiger Short Competition 1)

The Hole's Journey - 
IFFR P&I screening: Mon 1 Feb 09:00 CET until Sun 7 Feb 09:00 CET (part of Ammodo Tiger Short Competition 4)

For more information:

Er is een geest van mij
Ph: +31 6 4383 3565

Sales: LIMA
Ph: +31 20 389 2030

The Hole's Journey
Ghita Skali
Ph: +33 6 7646 0839





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