No one will deny that there is much life in the roots of trees. But what of the standing stones of man-made structures bearing the seal of protest and insurgency? Does their spirit endure long after their makers have departed and, even more importantly, what would this spirit say if it were to speak to us? In A CASA, A VERDADEIRA E A SEGUINTE, AINDA ESTÁ POR FAZER, Sílvia das Fadas traces out the contours of five monuments erected by revolutionaries who acted on their dreams with devotion and steadfastness. The first in this company of five is postman Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais idéal. Sparked by an unusually beautiful rock its maker happened to come across, the palace took Cheval 33 years to construct. If the structure that arose from such a simple beginning seems incongruous in scope and beauty, it appears as such only due to the dissent it expresses against its time and surroundings, a feature all these magnificent structures share, and one that the filmmaker emphasizes. One small event is enough to cause a cascade of fireworks in a human being, which das Fadas communicates in textured shots of minutely sculpted rock, mirroring splinters of ceramic-covered walls, and giant wings thrusting out into the blue skies. With a deep respect for the unique spirits she is paying homage to, the filmmaker places their stories under the (eponymously fugitive) roof of her vision. In fact, by drawing this map of defiance, das Fadas places the viewers in a complex structure of her own making, where these figures and their works become representative of a society that may yet come to be. The filmmaker herself is also a member of this community in more ways than one, and her work is distinguished by a strong focus on the specificity of places and objects that play a significant role in this future, including cinema.
Beginning with MAGIAE NATURALIS, a fine lacework of a film, her careful (in the sense of showing thought and affection) handling of the film material becomes apparent. Objects truly do speak in das Fadas’ cinema. By means of close-ups, superimpositions, and masks, the light that makes cinema possible is subtly transformed in all its power and mystery. The orchards of California in PICKING ORANGES lose their sense of gravity, and the photographs taken by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration in SQUARE DANCE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, 2013 are quite literally given new life in the filmmaker’s backyard, where shadows cast a spell of movement on their faces and feet. As the protest songs on the soundtrack of the latter dissolve the boundaries between fact and fiction and past and future, we soon come to realize that it is the present we must be mindful of changing. Marching to the beat of Alice Oswald’s “The secret is to walk evading nothing,” Das Fadas’ films are our most eloquent reminders. (Ivana Miloš)
- Beaux Mingus
- Rebecca Rodriguez
- Sílvia das Fadas
a morar onde ninguém mora