“There are images throughout that hint at the plight of artistry, the differentiating concepts of sleep reality and what we perceive to be the real world as well as the place of technology in recording what we consider to be real… heady material, to say the least. The TV image is also very important in this regard. However, taking my very vague ideas of what the filmmaker is trying to say and enjoying it for its surface level entertainment… I have a lot of respect for the movie.”
Eve's perception of life gets distorted after she drinks out of a flower, finding herself floating through an incoherent dream and ultimately lost in the memories of her past, present and future. In the end, Eve's mind breaks the barriers of logic and eventually transcends consciousness.
Three years in the making. It was 2006, and being in film school, I was fed up with all the rules and guidelines I had to obey to make a film. I studied screenwriting three years prior, and I found myself not interested in making a linear, coherent, and generic narrative film. My mindset was so focused on telling a story that is very abstract, very surreal, very silent, that evoked an unsettling emotion to those who would see it through its imagery.
I started experimenting shooting various film stocks and film formats (i.e. super 8, 16mm, 35mm) that led me to discover how endless this medium can be and how you can tell so much with just images. I felt at times the images that I wanted to shoot where hard to write about, and with techniques like triple exposures or hand processing or double projection can radically open your eyes to a new cinema of endless boundaries. I couldn’t even comprehend in writing, and my mind was trying to develop a new way of storytelling that was liberating and provocative.
The origins of the film started with my obsession to shoot a circus. I started my research, found the San Francisco school of the circus arts and I began talks with an amazing instructor there, name Helen, who encouraged me to shoot the performances in black and white 16mm. As I watched the various stuns, acrobats, performances, the idea for the whole story of the film came to fruition.
The idea was to tell a surreal story of a young woman’s journey, witnessing various periods in her life through worlds of her past, present and future. Also, not limit myself to boundaries of story structure or guidelines I learned in film school, but to push the film medium’s image as far as I can.
The writing of the film came as I was shooting it, the story developed later into four chapters: The Dream, The Circus, The Bunny, and The Awakening.
1- THE DREAM: I wanted to have that chapter convey how it is drastically different from the other ones, and show the evolution of the imagery in nature by inter-cutting close-ups of Eve as she evolves. She finds a beautiful yellow flower that is the seed of her journey, the nectar she feeds on to help her live. The hallucinations that result from the nectar take her in a deep dream that prevents her to ever return home.
2. THE CIRCUS: It is to me the key event that Eve experienced as a child, and developed her into the person of endless curiosity. This chapter is the most abstract one, yet realistically the most romantically relevant to Eve’s life. In the beginning she dreams of her past lover, Adam, running away from her, to a pointless dream that he has been chasing, symbolized by him bowing down to a tree. The tree symbolizes his large and intangible ideologies, the object of mystery that caused their love to fall apart. From there we see ahead in the future, Eve as an old woman and her lover Adam sick in bed. They both are very different people, older and very distant. The box in Adam’s room, is the portal to the place where they first met, and when her life turned upside down, the circus.
3. THE BUNNY: Eve wakes up from her dream, finds herself in a different time and place. I wanted to use a childhood phobia, and find a satirical way to make the phobia an antagonist of the story. The bunny haunts her till he traps her in his though, in a circus world that is also very different from the ordinary circus world she saw as a child. An organ player, and an act of a masked man petting a toy tiger lead the stage circus. Eve dances on stage for the bunny’s amusement, she notices herself trapped inside the television and right at that moment the lights go out.
4. THE AWAKENING: Eve’s mind begins to melt as she sees her life passing in front of her very fast. Through that, she transcends consciousness, and able to view everything so clearly. She sees herself thinking calmly, in an ideal world, of what she just encountered. Eve sees her whole life slowly through a window as it passes infront of her
This film has been a wonderous three-year adventure into a world of film that is experimental, limitless, and simple. I found peace in letting myself go as an artist, with a very small crew, and years of work and conceptualization. IT’S A STRANGE WORLD indeed, and that film helped me find a norm to the over complexity of human behavior
Written, Produced and Directed by Hassan Said
Edited by Jason Michael Roberts
Cinematography by Lautaro D'amato
Music by The Strange Orchestra
Production Design by Fernando Garcia
Sound Designer/Mixing by Matt Wood
Nicole Calhoun, Nicholette DeLon Ernest, Tony McNitt, Kacie Velie, Fernando Garcia, Damir Harasic
• WINNER of the silver palm award at Mexico International Film Festival
• The film first screened at the de Young museum in San Francisco as part of Night of Egyptian art and culture, and at other venues across the US with a live orchestra.
RUNNING TIME: 27 min
DATE OF COMPLETION: 2009
SHOOTING FORMAT: 35mm, Super 16mm, 8mm, mini dv, HD
COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: U.S.A.
FILMING LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
Cut on Final Cut Pro
Film processing by Fotokem
1.85:1, Color, Black and white, Stereo