Inside Encounters #2- BRIT 2: The Eyes of Others

Stay the Same by Sam Frith

The Eyes of Others is a fascinatingly rich programme, which raises questions about our identity, representation and how we define ourselves. We often define ourselves through the eyes of others; if we were able to let go of our fears and free ourselves from the roles that society has chosen for us, would we have a better world or a total chaos?

Directed by Karan Kandhari, Flight of the Pompadour is full of dry humour. Ineed, Kandhair’s grotesque style is somewhat similar to that of Québécois wunderkind Xavier Dolan. Based on a poem by Anjum Malik, Khaana is a beautiful étude about craving freedom, supported by Niraj Chag’s music. Also in the programme is Jesse Armstrong’s quirky No Kaddish in Camarthen, which stars Sion Davies as a young Woody Allen. While the above films show how we see ourselves through others, Untitled 2013 is about how we see others; how we take in different images, and how we see stories and the real people behind them. Directors Anna Valdez Hanks and Anna Blandford give us the key  to understanding the film in the very beginning, while still leaving plenty of room to analyse and think about what we see. It is as though they are playing with us, the viewers, exploring how we convert their images.

Stay the Same is the programme highlight. Not a narrated story but rather a visual poem, Stay the Same consists of moments recorded at exactly the same time and place every day for a year. Sam Firth, known for short films which blur the boundaries between art, film, fiction and documentary, creates a deeply personal experience. The strong confessional style conjures a sense of intimacy, supported by enchanting, glamorous visuals.

We only see the woman’s expressions and flickering eyes, causing us to wonder who she is. Although Stay the Same is simple, it is hugely expressive; at the end of this exquisite piece of work we feel as if we know her, after seeing her in so many different frames over such a long time. With the same expression in almost every frame, we learn her mannerisms and grow with her, subtly apprehending the seasons as they change around her.

This diverse showcase is full of humour, but also poses plenty of existential questions for us to ponder. The whole program raises an interesting thought: none of us have actually ever seen ourselves, only our reflections.

By Maarja Hindoalla