A Hard World For Little Things by Sonja Bertucci
California (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: 2 minutes
Screening Time: Juried Saturday, September 9th 9PM
Inspired by Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter," the film foregrounds the uncanny nature of toys, showing how the imagination can become saturated with violence in objects of childhood.
Sonja Bertucci is a Los Angeles based filmmaker and scholar. She has an MFA inn Film and Video from California Institute of the Arts as well as a PhD in French Literature and Film Studies from UC Berkeley. Originally from France, she has taught at numerous institutions of higher learning in the US (including UC Berkeley, Duke University, Miami University, and Concordia College). At Berkeley, her dissertation, entitled "Proust and Godard through the Lens of Intermediality," examines how Proust and Godard address the expressivity of their own medium in relationship to other modes of representation, situating these two artists within a larger history of intermedial aesthetics from Horace’s ut pictura poesis to Lessing’s Laocoön to more recent aesthetic discourses (Merleau-Ponty, Badiou, Rancière). In dialogue with her academic research, her films take a poetic-experimental approach to documentary filmmaking and have focused so far on the question of ephemerality, representations of grief and loss, and the struggle for personal and communal survival within a web of geopolitical events that diminish possibilities for agency. Her first feature-length documentary entitled Stranger from Within, a personal and political film about Serbian culture in Kosovo, which screened at the RedCat Theater in Los Angeles and won the Special Jury Award at Beldocs International Documentary Film Festival in May 2015.
A mixture of a fairy tale, film noir, gangster movie, Charles Laugthon's The Night of the Hunter is also a film that remarkably captures the contradictions and complexities of childhood, its flight into an imaginary world when facing the adversity of the adult world, its boundless creativity and unabashed resilience when spurned and forlorn, and, more importantly, the ability of children to absorb violence, appropriate it, "de-realize" it (in the sense of making it "unreal") by endowing it with a ludic quality. This dreamy darkness of childhood jars with the real brutality of adulthood, but the film shows how both realms overlap while transforming each other. Inspired by a desire to pay tribute to this film, even if only obliquely and without any explicit visual reference, I decided to create a piece which was true to its spirit. A Hard World for Little Things is a film about toys insofar as they channel the violence of the adult world into the space of childhood. The film enacts this violence not merely by colliding three radically different yet complicit spaces-- play, sex and violence-- but also by duplicating this violence on a formal level, using a faced-paced, flickering editing strategy. The film also transforms seemingly innocent images of art object or collector objects into a nightmarish vision, forcing the spectator into a harrowing ride, similar to one in a haunted house, assailed by unexpected shadows and uncanny figures. This compilation of violence is not eulogized, for Rachel's words, drawn from The Night of the Hunter soundtrack, deplores the cruelty of the world for its infants, the violence inflicted to infancy; likewise, the film, saturated as such with violence in objects of childhood, not only unveils the uncanny nature of toys; it lays bare with brute force the invisible and, at times, necessary, destructiveness at the source of innocent pleasure.