Credit: FIDMarseille
by InRO Staff Featured Festival Coverage Film

FIDMarseille 2024: Dispatch 1 — Amusement Park, Lost Chapters, A Stone’s Throw

July 1, 2024

Amusement Park

There is a provocation inherent in the depiction of sex as sensation: shed the vows and the assurances of deep emotional connection, and all that remains is pure, pulsating libido. Such libidinal currents, placed before the camera’s eye, have caused offense on two diametrically opposed counts: the act of sex is either too personal, and hence obscene when made public, or it is too tedious and distant because of its impersonal physicality. Mainstream pornography has capitulated to the former charge and doubled down on its visceral obscenity; less commercial prospects, faced with criticism over intellectualizing sex, haven’t responded quite as well to the latter. In most cases, a tired and polite hermeticism prevails.

Yet tired and polite do not always have to be met with brash and lusty furor; a number of films in the past decade or so have embraced sensuality through a more measured (and often political) angle, without necessarily sacrificing identity for caricature. In particular, queer cinema has found sensuality useful not just for interrogating the practices of heteronormative society, but — more urgently — to champion expressions once deemed at best marginal. Ricardo Alves Jr.’s Amusement Park embodies just this provocative stance: similar in this regard to Albert Serra’s Liberté, it regales the audience with little more than sets and sequences of collective, unsimulated fucking. But where Serra’s point was to situate the pursuit of libertine ideals in flesh and friction incarnate, Amusement Park’s ethos is decidedly more contemporary, seeking instead a radical freedom achieved not through total emancipation, but from individual desire’s sublimation within a collective one.

To be sure, Alves isn’t attempting a resurrection of the commune, or of the ‘60s and its naïve utopianism. His film, rather, considers desire as a current in and of itself, its telos liable to be suspended in pursuit of a more exploratory path among bodies and their actions. Confined to the liminal space of a municipal park in the center of Belo Horizonte, Amusement Park observes the interactions of several individuals, by and large male-presenting, as they cruise through the shadows and under the cover of nocturnal foliage, free to dwell in unvarnished nakedness. A gaze meets another on a trail, and their holders soon join each other among the trees and railings. The park, also literally home to various rides and carnivalesque furnishings, exhibits a space of timelessness in which camaraderie and the clandestine slowly converge, even if they do not quite touch, onto a free-wheeling association of sex and secretion.

Brazilian queer cinema has achieved significant recognition of late, as works like Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher’s 2018 Hard Paint and Daniel Nolasco’s 2020 Dry Wind have sensitively and probingly reconfigured the place of gay bodies amid discourses on sexual appeal and eroticism. In this vein, Amusement Park attempts to intensify this reconfiguration, even if its narratorial and emotional sensibilities are tempered relative to those films. Curiously, its setting offers an added provocation: recent ultra-conservative rhetoric has tended to equate queer people with groomers, and Alves’ placement of a primal and ostensibly taboo scenario within the public sanctity of the family-friendly amusement park is perhaps a gleeful repudiation of the rhetoric’s hateful pusillanimity. The film’s press notes refer to the park as an “urban heterotopia,” and one might add that this is a space not foreclosed to outsiders by virtue of its centered and perceptible location. Lensed by Ciro Thielmann and set to a throbbing electronic soundtrack courtesy of Dellamud, Amusement Park thus paints, within a brief 70 minutes, a potent picture of carnality for which rules, per the cliché, are meant to be broken. Only through the “breaking” of the toy, as a narrator suggests at the beginning, will its pieces “become other games” and the “taste of possible realities” be made real. MORRIS YANG

Credit: FIDMarseille

Lost Chapters

If not united by one distinct way of seeing the world, the works of L.A.-based collective Omnes Films do all encourage their viewers to at least pay attention to it. Ellipsis, divergence, and fantasy, sound and light in all the films — such as recent Cannes premieres (Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point and Eephus) as well as Topology of Sirens and Ham on Rye — invite audiences to look around themselves, investigate, and consider their relation to the world. A new film from the collective, directed for the first time by someone not from the founding quartet, premiered at the 2024 edition of FIDMarseille, and while the arms of this eccentric collective are reaching beyond themselves, the film, Lorena Alvarado’s Los Capítulos Perdidos, fittingly bears the same trademark curiosity and awareness.

An adventure film in minor key, Los Capítulos Perdidos (Lost Chapters in English) is steeped in Venezuelan literature, politics, and personal history, a stop-gap tour guided by an invisible hand. The opening credits of still photographs from an as-yet-unknown personal archive set an aspirant tone, thanks partly to the nimble trickling of Mischa Levitski’s “The Enchanted Nymph,” a mood leavener if ever there was one. Eventually, the film finds a place to rest in the contemplative hum of an urban apartment complex, set to the sound of birds and distant cars, that defines the rest of it — a mark of Alvarado’s astute sense of when and how to undercut levity without losing it.

Ena (Ena Alvarado) is visiting Caracas from abroad, staying at the home of her father, Ignacio (Ignacio Alvarado), and grandmother Mamama (Adela Alvarado). Ignacio collects books and used to own a bookstore (recently closed), while Mamama is a retiree slowly losing her memory. The loss of memory, of knowledge even, is crucial to Lost Chapters, whose core concern revolves around the gaps between what is known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, on the level of the individual and the nation. When Ena discovers a letter hidden inside a book in her father’s bookstore, it’s an allusion to a mysterious novel called Elvia written by an author — Daniel Rojas — who may or may not exist, and which may be one of the first novels to mention oil. This discovery sets her and her father off on a literary scavenger hunt where the treasures aren’t gold coins or jewels, but pieces of lost history, cultural knowledge, and childhood memories.

Ignacio has tasked himself with another challenge of greater political import: saving Venezuela’s literary heritage. Every nook and cranny of their house is filled with books, but somehow, he finds a way to bring home more, many of which are offloaded by acquaintances who have no need for vast collections and could probably use the money. At one point, Ignacio cryptically refers to a “situation” in the country responsible for the closure of his bookstore. The film never explicitly defines this, but, as with Ena and Ignacio’s search for Elvia, there are plenty of clues to follow. For example, the pandemic still looms on the periphery of daily life, as we see people walk around various book markets wearing masks while father and daughter pursue their lost book. More likely, however, the “situation” refers to the ongoing hyperinflation, mismanagement, and U.S. government sanctions that have produced Venezuela’s recent economic collapse.

Nowhere are these political realities made more manifest than in the cultural life of contemporary Venezuela. There is a prevailing sense of loss in Ignacio and Ena’s search, that something vital and rich is slipping through their fingers, no matter how real or imagined it may be. And it’s the same for the more tangible aspects of cultural exchange in the country’s capital of Caracas. The film takes pleasure in Ena and Ignacio’s divergences and setbacks in their quest to find the elusive book, but every visit to an independent bookseller, their stock arranged in disorganized shelves or precarious towers on darkened aisles, also reveals the stark gaps in the country’s cultural health, a rotted hole individuals must necessarily fill in themselves through informal networks of collectors and sellers.

This isn’t to say that Lost Chapters is a grim political statement. In fact, the film has an almost overwhelming warmth, which is most apparent in the scenes between Ena and her grandmother: they repeat the lines of a poem from Mamama’s childhood, she silently watches Ena play the piano, and they watch a soap opera on TV. But just as the entertaining search for Elvia is tempered by the reality of Venezuela’s disappearing cultural heritage, so too are these moments of levity countered by Mamama’s declining health and memory. At one point she forgets Ignacio is her son and that one of her brothers is still alive, while on a different night, she even wanders off into the neighborhood, with Ena and Ignacio searching for her without success. The uncertainty of the situation lingers like a specter until a few scenes later, when she’s seen lying on the couch listening to Ena play the piano again. Alvarado’s great strength as a filmmaker is in holding these contrasts aloft and finding grains of truth in their interconnectedness. Lost Chapters isn’t just a breezy document of contemporary Venezuela; it’s an informal archive whose acknowledgment and knowledge of its missing pieces inform its story as much as any present artifact could. CHRIS CASSINGHAM

A Stone’s Throw

Satellite or street view imagery usually provokes an overwhelming sense of spatial disorientation in the viewer. On the virtual surface of the planet, a myriad of streets, valleys, rivers, desolate roads, ugly neighborhoods, and busy avenues seemingly await the pseudo-traveler — the cyber flâneur — to be explored. While the four corners of the world lie ahead at A Stone’s Throw, or rather a click away, this simulated proximity does nothing other than underline the arbitrary nature of the control, surveillance, and discrimination mechanisms that encompass geopolitics. Not to mention how similar technologies are used for politico-military means to target, oppress, and inflict violence on disadvantaged populations.

Exposing the inner tensions of these images, hacking, and misappropriating them in order to transform them into counter-operational images has always been one of the predominant audiovisual strategies in films that directly address issues related to political and military oppression. The work of Montreal-based Palestinian filmmaker Razan AlSalah surely exemplifies some of the most powerful instances of this method of hacking and hijacking the image. Following Your Father Was Born 100 Years Old, and So Was the Nakba and Canada Park, AlSalah continues to explore the trajectories of displacement in A Stone’s Throw, where we follow the footsteps of Amine, an elderly Palestinian man who has been living in a constant state of exile. Forced to leave his birthplace, Haifa, to seek refuge in Beirut, only to end up on Zirku Island where he had to work in an oil and gas plant, Amine has spent a life being dragged from one place to another. This left him with only a few vague memories of the sea by his hometown and the physical and psychological damage that years of endless labor have inflicted on his body and mind.

AlSalah’s camera accompanies Amine as he walks down the streets or along the seaside — his body looking very fragile, with a protruding hunchback that one can’t help but associate with the emotional burden he has been carrying. As with her previous films, by combining different formats of sounds and images, AlSalah situates Amine’s story within a complex historical and political web of systemic oppression that the Palestinian people have been subjected to. Amine’s account of the time he spent working on the island becomes evidence of how the Zionist project makes use of the labor of displaced Palestinians, incarcerating them into work camps, as well as how fossil-fuel and nuclear capitalism benefit from it. By drawing parallels with Palestinian rebels-turned-workers who attacked the Kirkuk-Haifa oil pipeline during the Great Arab Revolt, Amine’s words also attest to the historically rooted nature of the exploitation they have endured.

In A Stone’s Throw, AlSalah applies her signature cinematic device of virtual trespassing, which consists of using Google Earth imagery to “gain” access to restricted areas, here on Zirku Island. The partly distorted, flattened aerial view of the island is juxtaposed with its user reviews on Google Maps that are scraped through Python’s interface. There’s a bitter and disturbing sense of irony in looking into a world where sites of systematic exploitation and oppression can get four-star ratings or comments with smiley faces. Yet the associative power of AlSalah’s images is so palpable that the mind starts to stray off — toward other regions that are not so far away on the map. Buildings or facilities in Gaza, too, must have Google Maps reviews, one thinks — they still do actually, but is there anything left there? Only ratings, comments, and photos?

Although the viewer is invited to wander off-frame to make connections and find echoes in similar instances of Zionist violence inflicted on Palestinian people, A Stone’s Throw fundamentally directs the gaze to the multiple layers of meaning within the frame, created through the overlapping sounds, images, and texts. For history, as we know, is far from following a linear course, leaving behind the traces of the past once and for all. As much as the Zionist narrative would have liked them to be effaced, AlSalah shows us how Palestinians’ traumas and losses, as well as their resistance and hope, can accumulate and grow into a new force — a force that is crystallized in the image of Amine walking by the sea in Beirut, to which a Google Street View from the port of Haifa is overlaid. This is what echoes in Amine’s words when he talks about unleashing the imaginary: something irresistible, something bigger than material force. An image. ÖYKÜ SOFUOĞLU

Credit: FIDMarseille

The Spirit of the Spider and Room of Shadows

One of the hallmarks of rapid-onset social change is a general sense of confusion. We often understand that some sort of intervention is absolutely necessary, but just as often we face the fact that we really don’t know what to do. What does productive resistance look like? What is the appropriate intervention for this uncertain moment? Since the 1970s, there has been a widespread consensus that in order to be effective, artwork must leave the safe space of the studio behind and engage more directly with the larger world. This idea was codified most directly at CalArts, when conceptualist Michael Asher created a seminar on “post-studio” arts, a course that turned out to be one of the most influential for future generations of artists.

It’s unclear whether this attempt to think outside the studio has run its course. But a couple of new films from 2024 FIDMarseille appear to be reversing the terms. The studio, like a frame around an image, can permit the creation of a limited space of action, a kind of control group where ideas can be explored and assessed for their possible contributions. Although the two films in question do not completely shut out the social world, their makers do confine themselves to a small space, one that affords them a great deal of control over their procedures and meanings. Likewise, both films attempt to comment on or affect the social and political spheres from inside these private rooms.

Chilean filmmaker Antonia Rossi’s The Spirit of the Spider is a busy, at times cluttered, film that largely focuses on solitary creation. Most of the film consists of a sculptor (Maria Garcia) producing a large installation work in an otherwise empty warehouse space. Rossi begins by showing us the artist digitally cropping images on a computer, eliminating margins and altering color and texture. We soon get a look at her larger project: she is building a miniature city made of metal silhouettes, black buildings with white light shining through their negative space. We see figures in the windows, and assorted figurines and other objects, as Garcia arranges and rearranges them in the studio.

Garcia’s performance alternates between experimental action and a kind of quiet fear. The overwhelming sense is that she is manufacturing her own symbolic world as a way to minimize her contact with the real one. We see her sleep, eat, crawl around, and generally eliminate the distinction between life and work. Rossi’s film includes abstract interludes, along with found-footage inserts of 1950s stag reels and softcore porn. While it’s likely that The Spirit of the Spider is actively courting confusion, asking the viewer to draw their own conclusions about what we see, the film is mostly incoherent. We don’t ever really get a sense of what is at stake in this imaginary cityscape, nor do Rossi’s digressions establish a clear place within the film. As a document of uncertain artistic engagement, a concrete sense of confusion about the artist’s role in present society, The Spirit of the Spider conveys the conundrum without making a clear, positive statement.

Meanwhile, Colombian filmmaker Camilo Restrepo, best known for his previous feature film Los Conductos (2020), appears in FIDMarseille’s French Competition with Room of Shadows, a somewhat more complex work than Spider but one that shares many similarities. Restrepo confines the action to a single room and an adjoining wall, as we observe a woman (Élodie Vincent) working to fortify her private space against growing social unrest right outside her window. We hear explosions, we see glass broken by flying rocks and bullets, and Vincent’s character busies herself with boarding up the windows, moving furniture around, and eventually knocking a hole in the wall between her apartment and the next.

Vincent’s performance is strange and compelling, pitched somewhere between professorial discourse and mounting dread. She frequently addresses the audience, and overall the film has the feel of a one-woman stage play, its location quickly coming apart. Restrepo has her deliver a fractured monologue about the role of the arts and intellectual examination, things we are meant to understand are in jeopardy due to the unseen world order coming to power beyond her room.

Vincent cites Pliny the Elder, who described the first known drawing as a silhouette traced on the wall, a woman making a mark of where her husband was before heading off to war. In this respect, Room of Shadows argues that creation and unrest have been intertwined from the very start. As she discusses various other artworks — a protest photo by Susan Meiselas, a collage painting by Paul Klee, films by John Smith, Dennis Hopper, and Travis and Erin Wilkerson — there is an accumulating sense that Room of Shadows means to catalog various acts of creative resistance before they are wiped from the historical record.

In this regard, Room of Shadows plays a bit like the plays of Wallace Shawn, such as The Fever and The Designated Mourner, in which intellectuals are forced to reckon with the dissolution of their prized cultural artifacts. Restrepo’s film embraces artifice, combining a nondescript apartment space with Op Art paint and high-temperature chromatic lighting. But its engagement with social crisis makes it almost seem like a documentary of real-time devolution, an entire history being stripped away and destroyed.

If The Spirit of the Spider attempts to construct a second world that might compensate for the destruction of the first, Room of Shadows offers a glimpse of the studio in ruins, the vain attempt to use culture and history as bulwarks against the violence of power-crazed philistines. Rossi’s film admits the outside world but doesn’t quite know what to do with it. But Restrepo’s articulates the irony of cultural resistance. The bigger the cocoon you try to build around yourself, the more inevitable the collapse. MICHAEL SICINSKI


“Through looking you need to see the truth,” says a warm and confident male voice, “that a woman is a well-made face and dress, as well as accessories.” Thankfully, for many of us at least, this kind of statement ceased to be considered truth ages ago, but the residual definitions of social, sexual, and gendered categories still continue to shape our perceptions of other people and of our own selves. Regarding so-called truths about women, family, and scientific discourse, Zuza Banasińska’s Teddy Award-winning short, Grandmamauntsistercat, operates on a double movement — going back to basics by asking simple yet fundamental questions and answering them with a network of signifiers made of far-fetched and surprising connections — meaning that there’s no answer with a capital A.

Visual excerpts appropriated in the film come from the archives of the Educational Film Studio in Łódź, where, as the name suggests, filmmakers were engaged to make films for educational and scientific purposes that served communist state ideology, and which also served as source material for another recent Polish film, Kuba Mikurda’s Solaris mon amour. Through a bemusing and playful approach to various subjects such as patriarchy, gender roles, the so-called neutrality of scientific discourse, family, folkloric figures, and myths, Banasińska recontextualizes these ideology-laden images without decontextualizing them by revealing how blatantly coded they are. While the filmic fragments serve as both material and tool, it’s the fictitious narrative about a matriarchal family — told from a child’s perspective — that establishes the locus of the meaning-making process.

The little girl we hear in voiceover throughout the film draws a vague and speculative portrait of herself and her family, composed of her grandma, her mother, her aunt, and the cat, whose corresponding depictions are made through a small clip where a group of doctors stand beside an operating table. This is by far the least incongruous association between what is said and what is shown that Banasińska indulges in making. In viewing the subjects of scientific and medical scrutiny throughout history — measured, operated on, dissected, and observed by the machines and tools in men’s hands — Banasińska invites us to forge connections between the natural realm — minerals, plants, but mostly animals — and women. Recurring images of insects or snakes, which invoke metamorphosis, as well as depictions related to birth and growth processes add an extra layer to the film’s emphasis on intergenerational transmissions among women.

Images and the accompanying voiceover narration demonstrate how beings, things, and concepts are not defined by innate and fixed characteristics, but are shaped and changed through social and political circumstances. Baba Yaga, a figure from Slavic folklore originally described as a matriarchal goddess but later reimagined as the evil witch we know today, is used in the film as the epitomizing symbol of these politically and socially fueled transformations. The little girl who takes her mother to kindergarten, the grandma said to have paws, and the auntie who used to bite walls like a mosquito: Grandmamauntsistercat speaks to the viewer in its own idioglossia; the images and sounds feel uncannily familiar, but they don’t necessarily mean what we expect them to mean.

Unlike many experimental found-footage films that heavily rely on the visual aspect of appropriated material, Grandmamauntsistercat stands out with remarkable sound design that equally, and oftentimes more effectively, contributes to the meaning-making and -breaking processes. Alongside the little girl’s disconcerting voice, which at times feels like that of an evil child protagonist from horror movies, Grandmamauntsistercat is truly an audio-sensory experience. Enhanced with textures and depth, gurgling, buzzing, cracking, and screeching sounds following one after another, showcasing editing as impressive as its visual counterpart, the film is wrought into something like an organic being; expanding, growing, and provoking us with mind-boggling questions while also gnawing at preconceived and obsolete ideologies.   ÖYKÜ SOFUOĞLU

Credit: FIDMarseille


Enzo (Georgios Giokotos) and Magda (Astrid Drettner) are brother and sister, but they don’t always get along, and their rocky relationship has had its share of strung-out silences. Passing them on the street, without context, one might assume they were a quirky if plausible enough pair: he a plump, mustachioed Greek with soulful eyes, and she a lithe and perpetually sullen Nordic sporting a ruffled bob. More than an archetype of indie cosmopolitanism, however, the couple exemplify the broader aesthetic proclivities and constraints of XXL, jointly shot and conceived by directors Kim Ekberg and Sawandi Groskind. Interestingly, Ekberg is Swedish and Groskind is Finnish, and so their film — the background of whose protagonists we’re not quite made privy to, save for a few introductory scenes of Scandinavian conviviality — takes place on a ferry ride from Sweden to Helsinki, where Magda is to audition for a play.

Much of XXL is uneventful, and this is by design. With no little irony, the film counteracts its outsized title by undercutting the weight of its many tonal ventures. Part city symphony, part observational docudrama, and mostly a lightweight travel diary, Ekberg and Groskind’s first feature together folds in on itself, charming perhaps in its whimsicality but offering too slight a vivisection of anything in particular: millennial malaise, financial precarity, even urban and ethnic assimilation. Its panoramic segments, particularly of life in Helsinki, posit a blissful unity in the quotidian, whereas its close-ups of brother and sister, at night and alone in their hotel room, underscore the quiet difference in their characters. She pores through the pages of her script; he gazes wistfully at the television — playing William Wyler’s The Heiress — and makes a long-distance call to his former summer camp counselor. The long weekend, over which they hang out and tenuously attempt to reconnect, flies by on a diet of cafés, museum trips, and brief encounters with friends and strangers alike.

There’s a case to be made for the film’s carefree ways, forgoing structure in favor of an atmospheric and vibe-heavy pastiche of Éric Rohmer and Aki Kaurismäki, in that XXL aims to chronicle creative subjectivity over categorical formalism. Remembering and thus highlighting the specificities of memory and sensation, for instance, serves to immortalize them, a point not overlooked by the film’s intimate use of 35mm stock. Ultimately, though, the limits of pastiche don’t quite gel with the labors of its premise inasmuch as the subject of reconciliation is diminished and wrought into cute curiosity. Hints of Enzo’s overprotective or even controlling demeanor are mentioned in passing and forgotten, and his shared ruminations on life with Magda and their company come off often as generic faux existentialism. The film’s foray into surrealism in the final act, while gorgeously framed and lensed, is an affair too abrupt and contrived for whatever metaphor it holds to land. And this, to Ekberg and Groskind’s credit, may be all they’re looking for: there are, indeed, pleasures to be found in the picturesque and skin-deep.   MORRIS YANG

Land Without Words

For several years, Austrian filmmaker Antoinette Zwirchmayr has alternated between rigorous visual filmmaking and a hybrid form of experimental narrative. She seems to be interested in exploring the degree to which the structure, pacing, and coordination of avant-garde abstraction can be meaningfully combined with such elements as performance and language. The methods seen in her portrait films, such as 2012’s delicate untitled, or landscape-based work like 2016’s Venus Delta, are placed into service for the explication of more explicitly stated themes. This has resulted in projects that are not filmed theater or dance, but also have very little connection to diegetic storytelling.

Some of Zwirchmayr’s efforts in this vein have been more successful than others, suggesting that she is still grappling with the contradictions implied by her practice.  2020’s The Seismic Form, which presents bodies in landscapes, accompanied by quotations from Jean Baudrillard, frustrates. More compelling are the ideas at play in Zwirchmayr’s more recent project, At the Edge of the Curtain (2022), which uses an enclosed space for presenting highly ritualized actions in a theatricalized mode of abstraction. One gets the sense that Zwirchmayr means to reconcile her twin fascinations with moving bodies and philosophizing, perhaps making her a potential filmmaking heir to Yvonne Rainer, an artist who wove multiple disciplines into her own highly individualized style of experimentation.

Zwirchmayr’s newest film, Land Without Words, splits the difference between these two performative modes. It’s based on a text by playwright Dea Loher, and although one may not immediately recognize this, it is meant to be spoken from the perspective of a woman painter who is reflecting on her work and its place in the broader art world. This monologue is divided among seven performers (six women, one man) who are dressed in identical white tunics and declaim the text as a kind of ritual chant. All the action takes place in a large loft space where different arrangements of theatrical staircases permit the speakers to slowly climb up and down, entering and exiting the camera’s field of vision.

There is a perversity baked right into Land Without Words. This unadorned presentation describes specific works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, and concludes with an extended rumination on a painter who is almost certainly Mark Rothko, his works becoming a luminous black before eventually committing suicide. The extreme minimalism of Zwirchmayr’s staging and filming of Land Without Words actively deprives the viewer of the visual constructions that are the text’s explicit subject matter, and the final result feels strangely disembodied, as if purely visual concepts (“without words”) were removed from the exterior world and lodged in the speakers’ minds. It treats language as vapor, and pictures as if they were invisible.   MICHAEL SICINSKI

Credit: FIDMarseille

Life Story

In Jessica Dunn Rovinelli’s newest short film, the director trains her camera on Australian critical theorist McKenzie Wark. On the audio track we hear Wark deliver a personal and philosophical monologue about identity and modernity, expressing her place in a collective struggle for social justice and happiness, “possible futures that never happened.” It’s a dense, lyrical statement about our shared desire for, if not utopia, a space where we could explore our human potential, and embrace our desires without having them appropriated by capital and sold back to us in warped form.

The majority of Life Story’s visual track gives us a montage portrait of Wark, an exploration of her naked body. In its grace and delicacy, Rovinelli’s photography of Wark recalls the mosaic images of the late John Coplans, which also consider the aesthetic as well as the erotic dimensions of the flesh in later life. The film concludes by showing Wark and her partner Julie Wernersbach going about their morning routine, making tea and a snack. On the one hand, Life Story’s depiction of the ordinary serves to ground Wark’s complex theoretical discourse. But embodiment is at the heart of all of Wark’s writing, and Rovinelli’s film literalizes this corporeality. The body, after all, can be theorized, but it not theoretical. It’s a beautiful fact.   MICHAEL SICINSKI