Four years ago, in Sarajevo, I assigned my filmmaking students at Film.Factory to make five-minute “remakes” of Seijun Suzuki’s Pistol Opera. One of those students, Ghazi Alqudcy, asked me to costar in his own film, A Celebration, along with Gonzalo Escobar Mora — who subsequently moved to Chicago for a spell, along with another of my Film.Factory students, Emma Rozanski.
Let’s start with the title — a shotgun marriage between two omnipresent yet far from equally featured players in these unremarked, meditative spaces: an abstract impulse that supposedly keeps our American republic healthy and vital (while producing a lot of junk along with more helpful items) and a concrete force softly caresses everything in its path, keeping us alive and alert. More specifically, an encounter between the cause of many of the deaths that are being commemorated here — especially those relating to the genocide of Native Americans and many of the massacres occasioned by slave revolts and labor protests — and what D.W. Griffith lamented he found missing from modern cinema, the wind in the trees, found in the vicinity of most of the dozens of gravesites visited.
Arguably, according to the poetic rhetoric proposed by this 58-minute film of 2007, beautifully restored by Mark Rance, these diverse and scattered gravesites — hidden in the woods or identified by plaques on busy highways or next to prominent buildings in towns or cities — belong to heroes rather than martyrs, yet also to moving air more than what we usually recognize today as history. Read more