Keimena #27: He Who Eats ChildrenAtlantis, and TRYPPS #7 (Badlands)
by Ben Russell

Monday June 19, 2017, 24:00 on ERT2
He Who Eats Children, 2016, USA, 25 min.
Atlantis, 2014, USA/Malta, 24 min.
TRYPPS #7 (Badlands), 2011, USA, 10 min.
Director: Ben Russell

Ben Russell—the director of Trypps #7 (Badlands), Atlantis, and He Who Eats Children—is an itinerant filmmaker. From Vanuatu to Rhode Island, he reaffirms and interrogates the affinities between cinema and travel that have existed since the medium’s earliest years. No matter where he shoots, at stake is a reckoning with otherness—with other psychic states, other ways of living, other cultures—and with the cinema itself.

In Trypps #7 (Badlands), a woman drops acid in the dramatic landscape of Badlands National Park in the USA. What initially seems to be a record of an intensely subjective, psychedelic experience turns, by virtue of the mesmerizing rotations of a mirror, into an exploration of the camera’s capability to induce states of altered perception.

Fiction and nonfiction overlap and challenge one another in Atlantis. At once a documentary of place and a utopian fable, the film wanders across Malta to conjure the drowned paradise and question what an ideal society might look like.

He Who Eats Children is a surrealistic portrait of a Dutchman living in the Surinamese jungle. Through legend and play, Russell moves from the particular to the general, as a single man’s story pries open the inheritances of colonialism.

In Russell’s films, the moving image is a mediator in the encounter with otherness. In his hands, ethnographic cinema turns its back on the domination of life and the pseudo-scientific reproduction of appearances. Instead, it is aligned with transformation, revelation, and mutual implication.

—Erika Balsom, film scholar and lecturer

Posted in Public TV on 06.19.2017