“My work maps out queer spaces of the indeterminable, the transitional, and the liminal. In my films and installations, forms, sounds, identities, and narratives continuously slip between recognizable and abstract. My approach to filmmaking is rooted in a fine arts studio practice, often utilizing the darkroom, direct animation, and set construction. By shooting through window frames, reworking found footage, building alternative viewing apparatuses, and exposing the properties of my media, I create passageways in which perception shifts. Memories are reinterpreted, language evolves through generations, notions of the self realign, and boundaries become permeable.” -Malic Amalya
Malic Amalya, born in Burlington, Vermont, is an avant-garde filmmaker whose works have been screened all across North America. The artist’s entry into filmmaking came about when he “struggled to combine [his] investment in activism, social justice, feminism, anti-racism, and queer culture with [his] interest in visual art.” Amalya realized the medium’s ability to promote these areas of concern, as he explained “I see experimental film as having the potential to be the practice of radical culture, as opposed to the doctrine of it—which one might see in narrative or documentary filmmaking.”
While discussing his film Drifting, which was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, Amalya reflected on the ability of the medium to capture life. “A decade could be reviewed in a few minutes of film,” Amalya noted. Drifting demonstrates this sentiment in an imaginative fashion, combining decades of several American family’s 8mm home movies from the 1940’s through 1980’s and reshooting these discarded filmstrips onto 16mm film stock through an optical printer.
Amalya quickly realized celluloid’s capacity for creative compositions. “I saw elements of film that are often hidden from audiences: layers of emulsion, frame lines, sprocket holes, light leaks, and burn holes. I adored these photographic anomalies and would pocket any film that would have otherwise been thrown out,” Amalya said. “By exposing the photographic anomalies and the sprocket holes of film, Drifting allows viewers to savor the patterns of light and the physicality of the media. However, in showing the audience the hidden elements of film, I am also asking them to consider how framing impacts their experience and understanding of images.”
Drifting incorporates a live score, as Amalya insisted the film “is a performance, not a reenactment of the original films, and I wanted to create a soundscape in the theatre. A lullaby is beautiful song intended to subdue the listener, and I want each musical performer to play with the dangers of beauty and sedation. I want each viewing experience to be unique and allow for the audience to reflect on the impact of silence on these home movies, and what sounds might have been heard in the original recordings and viewings.”
Drifting is a film that achieves many things. “The texture of film grain and scratches of the emulsion, as well as the color palettes, and the mise-en-scence often bring up waves of nostalgia,” Amalya explained. The filmmaker, whose work typically incoorporates queerness as a predominant theme, considers Drifting “a queering of home movies.”
Amalya’s intentions for the film were explicated, as the filmmaker informed “In Drifting, I want the audience to enjoy the beauty of the medium. However, I also have a sharp critique of the cultural and familial erasures that happen within these home movies, and of nostalgia for times that were more openly oppressive than they are now. Ultimately, I want to draw attention to what is not seen in these films, and for the audience to ask why.”
(Source: Michael Hollins’ interview with Malic Amalya)