It took me almost the whole of December to make this very short video and what I've learned is that I want to go back to painting.
I started with a desire to express feelings of nostalgia, sadness and mystery about my Russian ancestry, my father and his relatives, known and unknown, and bewilderment about the impermanence of life and the tenacity of personality, of family resemblance, of faces fusing into other faces.
I wanted to make a video that would be like a painting but with gentle movement taking place at various distances from the spectator. I built a kind of mini stage-set out of three cardboard boxes, one inside the other, with windows cut out of the back, roof and sides. I painted the inside of the boxes so that when lights were placed between them, you could see the colours of rooms behind rooms. On sheets of acetate I printed (digitally, through ink-jet printer) small photos of my Russian relatives, cut them out, then hung them on gold threads from wooden bars and from the ceilings of two front boxes. What I didn't take into consideration was that the camera and the naked eye are two altogether different species. The depth that my naked eye perceived was completely lost when the camcorder was pointed in the same direction.
Here is the final version, after discarding about seven others. It's a compromise but I don't dislike it. I borrowed one of Alexander Vertinsky's songs for the soundtrack because he fits the mood so well and because my father liked him so much. I couldn't find a clip of his particular favourite, which started with (pardon my phonetics - I don't speak Russian but understand a few words): Ti sidish adinoke....(You sit alone, staring at the flames....) There are lots of Vertinsky songs on YouTube and if you like the nostalgic chansonnier style, look him up.
Here's the permalink from VIMEO (it's a bigger screen over there) if you can't see it below.