by Dirk DE BRUYN
1987 / 16mm / color / sound / 1S / 98' 00

"De Bruyn combines his particular filmic effect/interest (rhythm) with the tangible reality around him. In HOMECOMINGS there is an incredible sense of the filmmaker living and breathing his practice. In what is essentially a diary film of a man going back to his homeland, strange things start to happen: photos are animated too quick to catch, actions are sped up through timelapse, and, most profoundly of all, certain shots get transformed into their drawn-on-film equivalents." – Bill Mousoulis

"In the early 1980s De Bruyn journeyed from Melbourne to his birthplace in the Netherlands and stayed there 9 months, making a number of films during this time. The core idea he had for HOMECOMINGS was to revisit locations depicted in photos of his infancy and film his own young family in those same places. The resulting film took 5 years to complete as de Bruyn struggled with time and money constraints (as he says at the end of the film) and began the task of processing all that had recrudesced or shifted through the speculative framework he set up for the project. De Bruyn started work on editing the film before returning to Australia when Hub Bals, the then director of the Rotterdam Film Festival, allowed him to use his office editing machine to do some initial compiling of scenes. Right from the beginning the film breaks new ground as de Bruyn introduces himself to the audience for the first time in any work, announcing unambiguously that self-acceptance, and the understanding of cultural origins and identity will now be core themes and also that his own narrative voice will be a key expressive tool. The narration is sparse, fragmentary and contemplative with an extemporaneous feel, somewhat reminiscent of Jean Rouch in delivery, and like most diary voices quite varied, dwelling on the banal and quotidian but also becoming personally revealing as de Bruyn reaches searchingly backward to his deceased father, rehearsing the difficulties he might have faced in immigrating to Australia and finds his own displaced younger self reflected in his son Kees. Interestingly, de Bruyn is also joined in the narration by his (then) partner Allison. This additional content provides a kind of separate parallel text to the artist’s and the gaps and silences between the two narrations show the couple united in their dedication to family but with quite distinct and isolated experiences. Although HOMECOMINGS is classed as ‘documentary’ on the Screen Australia site, like de Bruyn’s previous large scale work EXPERIMENTS (1981), this film is stylistically heterogenous, incorporating elements of auto-ethnography, film diary and diverse animation techniques with an open structure which resists narrative completion. The jagged synthesis of animated photographs from different time periods and generations, and brilliant layering of rotoscoped scenes of de Bruyn and family powerfully visualise the interrogation of identity at the core of film. These striking rotoscoped sequences were constructed through a painstaking process which involved tracing and drawing directly onto each individual 16mm film frame with permanent felt markers and dyes then reinserting these into the camera and exposing new images underneath. The density and thick texture of the resulting animation looks forward to ROTE MOVIE and TRAUM A DREAM, but here, unlike any other work by this artist, there is an overall tone of calm reflection and a growing awareness that this new homecoming has brought some inner peace and a unity of previously divided selves." – Steven McIntyre


distribution format Digital file on USB stick (FHD)
screen 16/9 (single screen)
speed 25 fps
sound sound
original language Dutch & English
rental fee 300,00 €