By: Eric Zdancewicz
Director Guy Maddin believes not enough disappears from the Internet. So in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada, and Co-Creators Evan and Galen Johnson, he has created a place for films to get lost forever.
Seances is the name of the Canadian director’s latest work, which can be experienced (for free) on the film’s website. It’s both a combination and fragmentation of several mediums and filmmaking techniques run through a program to generate a one-of-a-kind film. The footage is “conjured” from 17 separate films shot in public in Paris and Montreal over the span of 18 days and are based on films that once existed but were at some point lost. Once filming completed, the films were labelled in a similar way to metadata. Each film has certain descriptive words attached to it that can be as fun to read as the movies are to watch. Take an “Entrepreneurial treachero-telephonic coiffure fantasia” or a “Dedicatory matrimonial birthday solemnization” as examples: all the words are procedurally strung. When you interact with the film, a sentence is fused together from the void and becomes the film you are about to watch.
The films have a beautiful ruin to them, like the decay you would expect from a lost film unearthed. Degradation is a throughline in Seances, and the random events like when a YouTube clip interrupts the screen or when film emulsion blooms recall the fragility of film and ourselves. That may sound a little dark, but the random events being summoned before you are often funny. This embraces Maddin’s sense of humour and his ability to accept the happy accidents made during filming.
The film runtimes range from 10-13 minutes, and when complete, they leave the physical world and find a resting place among the other lost films and our memories. It’s a refreshing change to view something online and have it disappear in front of you with no chance to like or reshare. It’s a reminder to stay present in the moment, and to embrace experiences and accidents.
Watch Sceances here: http://seances.nfb.ca/
Guy Maddin’s Website: guy-maddin.com