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Program Spotlight: Fragile Dream, dir. by Isabelle Hayeur

Program 4: Sunday April 10th, 4:45pm
Fragile Dream, directed by Isabelle Hayeur. Synopsis by filmmaker: In their conception of the world, the Aboriginals considers that all forms of life are part of a dynamic system of complex interactions. The earth, men, animals and plants are only parts of the same whole. Plunged into an unprecedented environmental crisis we know that this ideal remains an abstraction, a distant dream.

Fragile Dream, directed by Isabelle Hayeur, is constructed of several shots of vegetation with a shallow depth of field. Throughout each shot, the focus continuously changes, shifting toward the camera until everything is out of focus. Then, the film transitions to a new shot of nature and the process starts over again. The constant shifting of the focus allows the audience to examine different slices of the image before them, which creates a more intimate connection to the image and all the while reconstructing the whole image in their mind. Because of this technique, the film is highly engaging and is constantly interacting with the audience while also being incredibly relaxing to experience. The opening of the film starts on black then an orangish dot fades into the center of the image. The audience is never made quite clear about what exactly the image is supposed to be, as it looks like an object or a source of light that is out of focus. However, the image and the color is reminiscent of the sunrise reflecting on the water, signaling the start of the day, or some kind of process. The sound of static or wind also accompany the image, which lends the image a feeling of being outdoors.


In her synopsis of her film, Hayeur said she took a lot of her inspiration from the Aboriginals in Australia, where the project was filmed. The title of the film itself, Fragile Dream, is a reference to the Aboriginal idea of Dreamtime, which in Aboriginal culture was the beginning of time when the Earth and its inhabitants were created. According to Hayeur, the Aboriginal conception of the world is based around the idea that all forms of life are connected in complex and dynamic interactions. The film ties this idea to the form of the film itself. The film creates a unique relationship between the audience and the image, as well as the subject of the image. We, as the viewer, are called to recognize and connect with every single aspect of the vegetation and plant life depicted in the film, creating a series of complex interactions between the viewer and other forms of life.

And following from that idea, Hayeur imparts an environmental message. By withholding part of the image from the viewer, the subject of the image and the audience are put on an equal playing field. The viewer is not a godlike omniscient figure in the interaction. We don’t get to see the totality of the image, so we don’t get to make sweeping judgements on the quality of the landscape. We are equal parts creator and recipient of the image, and therefore the image becomes both bestower and object. In a similar fashion, the natural world to humans is both the bestower of life and the object on which and of which we build. The film reframes our mind from the Western conception of nature as a resource from which we harvest as much as we can, but the sharer of these resources— the generous giver that is to be respected.

Fragile Dream is joined with other films in Program 4 that offer a wide array of approaches and tones as they reframe and defamiliarize the familiar. The unforgettable Cactus Raptus (dir. by Maxime Hot), Identity Parade (dir. by Gerard Freixes Ribera), All You Want is Greece (dir. by Alex Morelli), and Nature Sounds (dir. by Contrarios) push found footage into the realm of the absurd. T is for Turnip (dir. by Kiera Faber), The long wail of a passing train (dir. by Anne-Marie Bouchard) and Migratory (dir. by Siri Stensberg) engage increasingly uncanny defamiliarizing techniques to recognizable imagery. Prometheus (dir. by Dominic Angerame) and Katagami (dir. by Michael Lyons) revel in precise, evocative abstraction. Several of the program’s films experiment in diverse styles of animation, as do Time Glider (dir. by Jacob Allen Johnston), Rotary (dir. by Julie Martin), and The Punishment (dir. by Nelson Fernandes). Lastly, A View From The Cliff (dir. by Anouk Laure Chambaz), A History of the Wheel (dir. by Tony Hill), Timeless (dir. by c999), and Light Essay (dir. by Gabriella Vincze-Bába & Polina Khatsenka) expand the techniques and content of the Essay Film form.  

- Paul Dower                               

Fragile Dream, directed by Isabelle Hayeur
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