The latest by Filipina director Esy Casey (Here After) is a 37-minute featurette that unfolds entirely in split-screen, and although it seems like it might have been conceived as a gallery installation, it’s quite potent as a single-screen presentation. Casey uses the division of the image, and the mediation of distance through communication devices, as a concrete representation of an immigrant experience all too common in contemporary culture. Filipina women are forced to leave their own children behind in order to travel to foreign countries, where they frequently perform domestic labor. That is to say that these women are raising other people’s children — caring for them, cleaning up after them, providing them emotional support — while their own are thousands of miles away.
Esy conveys this divided consciousness through sonic as well as visual means. There is a first-person narration that runs throughout Movement, simultaneously read in English and Cebuano. Without the narration (in both languages) appearing onscreen, it would be very difficult to parse what is being said, and of course, this is the point. The conflict between home and away, a familiar and an unfamiliar culture, results in a fraught, muddled subjectivity. Again, if this were presented in a gallery context, one expects the two voices would be spatialized, allowing the viewer to move closer to one and further away from the other.
In its patient, poetic articulation, Movement is a deeply melancholy film. Esy makes quite palpable the feeling of losing a relationship in real-time, in some respects mourning for a loved one who is still very much alive. Bearing traces of both the affective acuity of Miko Revereza and the formalist analysis of Ursula Biemann, Movement poignantly describes the human toll of asymmetrical globalism, in which many laborers aren’t permitted the basic dignity of “home.”
Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 18.