by Barbara STERNBERG
1997 / 16mm / color / silent / 1S / 72' 00
"In midst, Barbara Sternberg has made a lyrical film about attachment, integration, belonging. Many of the familiar elements of Sternberg's work are here: speed, pulsing rhythms, explosions of colour, light and shape, images of nature and the built environment. But the conflicted situations and turmoil of earlier major films like Through and Through and Beating are gone. Instead, midst focuses dramatically on an understanding of the world through art, specifically painting, especially abstraction, here translated into filmic terms. Abstraction becomes the vehicle for taking on complexity, putting it all together in heightened moments of intense vision characteristic of ‘seeing into’ or ‘being at one’ with nature.”
"A strong analogy is drawn between the physical world - our habitat or medium, as it were—and film as a particular kind of medium for representing that world. Like Sternberg's iconic lone swimmer, afloat and moving purposefully in the enveloping water, life and art co-exist in a mix where one belongs to and is part of the other. In midst, the film itself builds sequences and moments of equilibrium where all that moves is held in precarious balance." (Rae Davis)
Barbara Sternberg's new film is a beautiful collection of light and colour and shape which flows effortlessly from the screen to the soul. It is full of iconic images which refuse to be icons. With scenes captured on beaches through the lounging filmmaker's feet, the film creates a new set of metaphors while utilizing familiar imagery. Sternberg uses the camera to study the most intimate part of our body: our hands. These are the extensions of us which we use to express ourselves in so many ways, many as silent as this film. While they age and wither, they are increasingly important in the creation of beauty.
midst is a part of the environment rather than, as with many of Sternberg's other films, an agitated outsider. I feel I must speculate that this film marks an ideological change for Sternberg in which she seems to have come to peace with the world around her. Much of the film is shot outdoors, utilizing a large range of landscapes. This is familiar territory for Sternberg and she is in top form. The soft images and haunting colours recall the Group of Seven as the camera grabs sketches from the living air. Furthermore, like looking at painted canvases in a gallery, the images stand on their own without audio accompaniment. Regarding this, Sternberg explains that she had music composed for the film, but that the images were never enhanced by the combination. Her film is a poem of light, speaking loudly with its silence.” (Gerald Saul)
|1,37 - Standard (single screen)