Kian Bergstrom critiques the psychosexual films of Nazlı Dinçel short film series for Cine-File

subtext-eyeThis program consists of seven films by the experimental filmmaker Nazlı Dinçel and a found and appropriated instructional film. Taken as a group, they are very strong evidence of Dinçel’s extraordinary visual inventiveness, mastery of form, and provocative depictions of the intersections between history, both political and personal, and deeply corporeal existence. The Ken Jacobs-like REFRAME (2009, 4 min) repurposes 8 stereoscopic slides taken by an army officer in pre-Castro Cuba that Dinçel found in a thrift store.  Exploring details and densely editing the images together on an optical printer, Dinçel flattens the supposedly rigorous distinctions film makes between space and time, turning static images into exhilarating washes of color, poses into coded gestures, simultaneities into whirling fluxes of life. As Dinçel’s film unspools, the neutral, banal images she is using become uncanny glimpses of an unstable island, become a way to show the difference between the false tranquility the Army officer saw and photographed and the real Cuba, its readiness to explode moved from unwitting subtext to unmistakable tangibility here. LEAFLESS (2011, 8 min) is a work of intimate reflection, a film about the ways that paying close attention to the textures and shapes of another person’s body affect how we understand that person, and how we understand our surroundings. The movie begins as a series of close-ups of body parts, delving into the ways that this particular person whose body we are examining is sensuously different from all other people, is different from ourselves. Soon, the film moves to a wider scope, though, and the remarkable intensity of focus and attention given to the man’s body in the early shots turns into a vehicle for seeing everything in new ways. An erotic connection to another person, the film implies, can become the catalyst for literally changing the world. HER SILENT SEAMING (2014, 11 min) revisits the LEAFLESS material, now heavily hand-manipulated and intercut with hand-scratched text that transcribes things different sexual partners have said to the filmmaker. The intense beauty of the damaged, transformed footage gradually gives way to an evisceration of a pomegranate, in succulent close-up, its juice running through the hands of the filmmaker, down her knife, onto the cutting board as she slices it and scoops the seeds out into a bowl. The iconography is coarse—Hades and Persephone, sex as a corrupting, bloody moment, the death of relationships being foretold by their beginnings, and so on—but the carnal power of the film outweighs any lack of subtlety in structure. SOLITARY ACTS #4 (2015, 8 min), SOLITARY ACTS #5 (2015, 6 min), and SOLITARY ACTS #6 (2015, 11 min) are explicit explorations of erotic discovery, masturbation, and child development. In a rich montage of intricately and densely overlaid images, voice over, hand-scratched texts, and extremely appropriate uses of Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, the three films depict myriad imaginings of female sexuality, both as radically liberating forces that are harnessed, controlled, regulated, medicalized, and damned and as internally self-defining needs and urges that bend us to their wills.

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