CROSS EYED
99 min, 2021, dir. Amit Desai

Documentary Feature

"A brash, voracious energy imbues this exhilarating work from artist-photographer Amit Desai. Working with a troupe of precocious thespians (many educated at MoMI’s nearby Frank Sinatra School of the Arts), Desai commingles ostensibly observational rehearsal footage, staged throughout New York’s public parks, with studio interviews where the performers reflect on personal traumas, class experiences, artistic ideals, and the confluence of their normal adolescent anxiety with the abnormal anxiety of an authoritarian moment. A self-reflexive documentary that tantalizingly evokes William Greaves’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, Cross Eyed offers an incandescent impression of New York’s restive youth on the cusp of the Floyd rebellion." ~Museum of the Moving Image

Screening July 24th, 2021 @6:30pm, Museum of the Moving Image 
 

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It was time for my high school graduation in New York. While getting fitted for a cap and gown, preparing for all the pomp and circumstance of walking across a stage, I realized that on another level of life I had not graduated at all. Sure, I knew the pythagorean theorem. I even read Huckleberry Finn. I did the presidential fitness test. But it occurred to me that I had not read the Gita.  What is a high school diploma without reading the ancient scriptures?  I asked my parents if I could go camping in El Yunque, a tropical rainforest with the highest peak in Puerto Rico. I wanted to bring just one backpack and the Bhagavad Gita. It would take me one week and I would read the whole thing. I did not realize just how wet the tropical rainforest is. They really should put some disclaimer in the name rainforest to make you aware of how wet it is. All that rain softens the dirt into mud, that mud mixes with clay, and everything becomes slippery.  I ended up getting caught in a mudslide as the sun was setting. I landed down in the bottom of a ravine. I remember something peculiar as I was sliding down into the valley. There I was, cascading down uncontrollably, swept away by the Earth. I was hearing the sound of jungle brush rushing by, barely making out images as I kept falling. It all became a blur of green. Sight and sound slowly started to drift apart. I could no longer connect the things I was seeing with the sounds. By the time I got to the bottom of the ravine, the link between my eyes and ears had fractured completely. I had badly dislocated one of my shoulders. It was almost nightfall in the jungle and I was alone and immobilized. I somehow had to pop my shoulder back in. That for me, was the beginning of WEIRD MOVIE, the birth of disarticulation. Things that have one total effect when working together, what happens when they are broken apart? Sight and sound are the bones of cinema. What happens if priority is no longer given to the eyes? What happens when you engage the ears more directly? The eyes and the ears are often weaponized against the citizens of the late capital machine, wrapping our perception around a propaganda of lifestyle. As medicine for escape, there is an interest in maintaining the illusion of the total sight and sound bubble. But what happens if you pop the bubble, if you dislocate the shoulder of a movie? If you place the senses of sight and sound in awkward arrangements that expand and contract around and in front of the audience as they free fall? What if sound is always a bit out of sync with picture? Well, you get a Weird Movie.

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