Interview with Nazare Soares
Which films or types of film inspired Hic Non Est and how?
I was inspired by films that develop an unconventional narrative such as ‘Fuego en Castilla’ by José Val del Omar (1961). Omar was a pioneer of experimental film and in 1928 he was one of the first filmmakers to use technology to develop the aesthetics of film as art. He invented the notion of PLAT, the totalising concept of ‘Picto-Luminic-Audio-Tactile’ art. My inspiration also includes the work of new authors who work with found footage, developing a new approach to the archive such as Juan Daniel Molero in his film ‘Reminiscencias’ (2010).
Which mediums outside of film influenced the work?
The most significant mediums are sound composition and photography, both of which are central to the film itself. The structure of the piece was inspired by the pilgrim and missionary books written in the holy land towards the end of the 19th century. The film aims to evoke some of the illustrative style of these volumes. I hope that these mediums come together to create a coherent whole.
What were your intentions and motivations for the film?
My intention was to create an assemblage of memories, thoughts and experiences collected during my exchange program in Palestine between April and May 2013. Each location has been constructed from sound, moving and still images aiming to share my memories and reflections with the observer. I wanted to play with the idea of representation or reconstruction of memory and aimed to construct something new that contains memory and experience in the form of sound and image. I also wanted to suggest the fragility of memory and recording mediums.
Do you consider the film to be part of a genre or tradition?
You could say the film is an experimental piece, film art. The film could work in gallery spaces as well as on the big screen.
What do you consider the function of the sound and music to be?
The narrative power of sound connects all the fragments together within the cognitive experience of the observer. The film becomes alive thanks to the sound design and composition. Sound provides physical contact with the film bringing it to life and creating a fragmented narrative. The function of the narrator is inspired by Walter Benjamin’s notion of “citing without quotation marks.”
What are the cultural implications and meanings in the film?
We approached the film hoping to question how western culture uses recording when representing Palestine. I placed myself in the role of the recorder and questioned myself ethically. I used Albert Kahn’s footage filmed between 1917 and 1925 to document the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when the history of Palestine was defined by western political forces. The archive brings to the film that which is invisible to a visitor in the day to day in Palestine, the effects of the past. In my experience of Palestine, archaeology and religion have been my main points of research when trying to connect history to the present conflict of the holy land within the film.
What is your reasoning for your aesthetic choices?
I try to achieve a look similar to that portrayed in the archive by the colonial powers in the Victorian era. The lantern slide format was the main inspiration to evoke a kind of western voyeuristic glance that I believe is still active towards the middle east. The sound works in harmony with the materiality and texture of the film and brings the fragility of the image into the narrative. The collection of visual and sound materials is edited in many layers. The image is a collection of still images, digital video and super 8. The aesthetic choices are planned to break the expected associations the observer may have in relation to the places represented in the film. I wanted to use soundscapes because of the film’s intangible nature and abstract form in order to define my memories and the history of the holy land. The soundscapes drive the observer into a state of alienation in time, history and place.
What was the focus of your reading around the subject?
Walter Benjamin’s writings on history and art, Jacques Derrida’s writings on hauntology, Giambattista Vico’s ‘The New Science‘, and ‘The Dominion of Death’ by Robert Pogue Harrison; the Quran, Torah and Bible as well as missionary books such as ‘The Land and the Book’ by M. Thomson D.D.