The Future Is Behind You

The Future Is Behind You


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The second chapter of Abigail Child's Suburban Trilogy starts starkly, a title card of sorts in black and white. A contextual piece of information, Cine Kodak Panchromatic Safety Film, 14 rolls each of 100 feet, vintage 16mm. It goes on to be - subtitled is not the word - narrated in text. This is one of those 'reading movies', essaying semi-biographical, haunting, footage of a past that's ignorant of a future that we know. Unlike Oliver Py's Mediterraneans, this doesn't seem to condemn, to ladle contempt for these people innocent of knowledge of what is to come. Inevitability is obvious in retrospect, but that's a privilege of survival.

With a John Zorn score, occasionally redubbed, over-dubbed because it was silent beforehand, conversations made of unheard mutterings, whispers in the face of the invisible dark. Archive, this, assembled archive of Elfreida and Eleanore GrĂ¼ndig, sisters in Germany. 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938. There are fireworks. There are marches. There are pictures not shown, text given. An owner explains that a "half-Jew might disturb his clientele", asks her "not to take coffee at his cafe". A teacher attacks French character by comparing them to the Jews. There is Kristallnacht, there is what is our past, what is their future.

Copy picture

There is a creeping sense of foreboding. Zorns score helps here, but it's Child's assemblage, these bits of text from memoirs, footage from the archives of the GrĂ¼ndig and Klein families, there are more laboured contrasts - as Weimar makes way for Reich, the credits reveal some of the text is drawn from the PATRIOT Act. Prediction weighs upon history, the personal is microcosm of a greater suffering.

While technically accomplished, it's well-trodden territory, and there's a certain familiarity to it all. It's still stark how quickly traditional protections like wealth and status can be eroded when culture changes, still powerful, another moving story in a litany of tragedy. As the middle element of The Suburban Trilogy it is a stark contrast to the other two parts, indeed, the three sit deliberatly uncomfortably together. Steak And Cake is a collage of community, Surf + Turf straight, albeit arch documentary, but The Future Is Behind You is flat, bleak, powerful.

Reviewed on: 17 Jul 2012
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Found footage is used in a fictional story exploring the development of gender identity. Part two of The Suburban Trilogy.

Director: Abigail Child

Year: 2004

Runtime: 20 minutes

Country: Germany, US


EIFF 2012

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