Eye For Film >> Movies >> Neither God Nor Santa Maria (2015) Film Review
Neither God Nor Santa Maria
Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten
A combination of resurrected oral history and otherworldly atmospherics, Neither God Nor Santa María (Sin Dios Ni Santa María) layers old audio recordings over contemporary footage of an elderly woman's daily existence in Ye, an isolated community on the island of Lanzarote. The audio - recorded by Luis Diego Cuscoy between 1965 and 1967 - consists of pastors recalling tales of witches and their mysterious travels, which in juxtaposition with the visuals, frames the woman on screen (Enedina Perdomo) as possibly the last of this mythical female line.
Shot on expired 16mm colour negative (and developed by hand), the scratchy texture of the film lends an ethereal quality to the images almost as if the passing sea frets and attendant mist have soaked into the very fabric of the film, acting as a filter between past and present. In conjunction with the way in which the degraded nature of the film causes moving shadows on the surface, the images of dramatic coastline and hilly landscape are rendered like layers of gossamer tissue - a visualisation of the layers of that make up a place (the stories, histories, people) but also an indication of the fragile and ephemeral nature of memory (things fleetingly and imperfectly recalled - something highlighted in the last snippet of audio in the film). The colours of the 16mm also give a nostalgically honeyed haze to the routine of a woman who we don't see using modern technology - she seems somehow outside of time.
On the surface, the use of exclusively male voices on the soundtrack privileges a male perspective and the patriarchal categorisation of women as 'other'. However the lack of male physical presence in front of the camera undermines this position of privilege - instead the women are seen to have endured to have the last laugh (to startling effect when their laughter unexpectedly interrupts the film's soundscape). The image of the solitary woman standing on a hillside, looking into the camera with her headscarf fluttering in the breeze while the sound of the wind takes over the audio - male voices blown away - is a portrait of strength and longevity.
This captivating film forges connections between the aural and visual in such a way as to create a timeless sense of place and landscape while also implicitly acknowledging a slippage between the past and present (i.e. that more than one era is being represented despite how they merge within the film).Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2015
If you like this, try:The Dance Of The Memory