Persistencies of Sadness & Still Days is an interesting work from a vital scene in recent European film production and research: Ireland. More specifically, it is a remarkable result achieved by its authors, the Iranian Rouzbeh Rashidi and the Irish Maximilian Le Cain: the former, founder of Experimental Film Society (EFS) and filmmaker; the latter, film critic, editor of Cork Film Centre’s journal Experimental Conversations, and, also, filmmaker.
Produced with the support of The Guesthouse, Cork, and announced by a trailer available on Vimeo, it is a four hour feature film, composed of two parts of the same length. It consists of a chain of potential and floating micro-narratives centring on different human figures, their actions, interplays and relations. These are framed and juxtaposed in dreamlike imagery as a continuum that is also defined through a very precise soundtrack which isolates, models, and abstracts the realism of the shooting, and through a rhythmical editing which often outlines and sometimes stresses a sort of binary language, between intensities (underlying visual patterns) and discontinuities (regular cuts as punctuation marks).
Let’s say Persistencies of Sadness & Still Days implies a cultural effort which seems to suggest theoretical ambitions quite close to a phenomenological approach. Like singular entomologists of movement, Rashidi and Le Cain search and record the ‘appearances of stillness’ by re-framing its degree zero in life, underlying possible kinetic representations or signs: landscape. As rectangle, as painting, as scheme, it is the ‘field’ where time and space collapse their boundaries and it seems the ‘key’ they use to open their gates of perception. Just like in poetry. As a matter of fact, what we notice visually through these segments is the framework of a fascinating and absolutely personal landscape which binds and hybridizes figures and environments in configuring or simply unfolding geometric and abstract forces, thus to define a viewpoint by which all the places the authors filmed throughout Cork (buildings, harbor, countryside and so forth) give a progressive anti-naturalistic impression of reality, maybe unwittingly influenced by cues from some famous visual arts movements (Minimalism, Hyperrealism, even Suprematism), and enacted by scattered gestures, temporary postures and anonymous poses. ‘Everything looks like its stationary’: that’s the immediate impression the staging gives; ‘but in different ways’: that’s what I would add to the in-depth expression their observation reveals. Here, Rashidi and Le Cain emphasize nothing more than a certain materialism of the elements involved, instead of the traditional staging: image, sound, acting, editing; all these phases autonomously resonate in their own volumes, tones, variations, rhythms; all these aspects mold an open structure, a work in progress, roundly evoked in the second part, Still Days.
Artistic experiment and possible manifesto, it is through interesting work on the arresting and the fluctuation of particular cinematic dynamics that this movie seems to achieve nothing less than a surprising series of landscapes of stillness.