I had the opportunity to speak with Genevieve for this excellent piece on the relationship between academia and experimental film.
The images stimulate curiosity by seemingly calling out to viewers. They draw us towards the human beings within them, whose expressions register as calm, hopeful, and even happy. As we sift through the fragments, we might feel ourselves drawing closer to those who originally participated in their making. Liahonas myriad depopulated shots of rocks and sand give the sense that we might be looking outwards in the same direction as them, and seeing what they see
"The home is the domestic center of life," Sanders wrote in an email to The Tribune, "but as Colorado City is an incorporated town, the homes along the city streets remain part of the public realm. I wondered at first about the condition of the homes unfinished additions, broken windows, paint that needed updating years ago, half-built houses.
"The home is often a symbol of their faith in Warren Jeffs. As he predicts doomsday so often, letting their homes go is a sign to the community that they're on board with his prophecies."
Teen girls Tumblr blogs are like the wallpaper of their minds gone public, while photographer Rania Matar captures teen girls in their bedrooms as an outsider. These two reflections of adolescence consider contemporary realities. In her installation Return to Virtue (2013), artist Talena Sanders creates a fictional space of a Mormon teen girls fantasy bedroom the kind she didnt have growing up, despite being raised Mormon.
One of the more engaging of the aughts-born wave of experimental documentaries, LIAHONA (2013, 70 min), by newcomer Talena Sanders, is a meditative and at times personal journey through the mystifying world of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The film (named after the brass compass that guides a breakaway Jewish sect to the Zion of America) gracefully balances a portrait of Mormon faith between the folk-magic occultism of its founding and the mainstream yearnings of its present day incarnation.
More than one work in this years Views programs either toys with narrative material or provides the kind of atmosphere, context, and tension one finds in a narrative film. A distinction made decades ago between cinema resembling prose narrative and cinema closer to poetry because of its stress on imagery, rhythm, and editing not dictated by narrative logic still applies. The latter is exemplified in the richly textured and elegantly condensed Listening to the Space in My Room by Robert Beavers, as well as in two films by Nathaniel Dorsky, Spring and Song. These are among the must-sees this year. More proselike are such feature-length personal documentaries as Marielle Nitoslawskas Breaking the Frame, an affecting portrait of legendary feminist artist and filmmaker Carolee Schneemann, and Talena Sanderss Liahona, an arresting, deceptively low-key indictment of Mormonism composed almost entirely of found footage.
Several films explored the mysticism sometimes recorded by, and created in, the camera. Talena Sanderss Tokens and Penalties (2012) takes place in the spare, tire-track lacerated landscape of Utahs salt flats, where a woman in a white gown repeatedly crosses her body in a series of harsh gestures. She is both a totem, reminiscent of Nicos striking figure against the desert of Philippe Garrels La Cicatrice intérieure, and a marker of taboo: as the end text describes, the Mormon Church scrubbed blood oaths and penalties from its official doctrine in 1990. Apart from these signs of ritual (and ritualized repression), the film leaves us wanting more of the Mormon prophecies it merely hints at, namely its origins in dreams and its violent consequences.