Covert Action


Rental Format(s): 16mm

I wanted to examine the erotic behind the social and remake those gestures into a dance that would front their conditioning, and as well, relay the multiple fictions the footage suggests (the "facts" forever obscured in the fragments left us). The result is a narrative developed by its periphery, a story-like rumor: impossible to trace, disturbing, explosive.

"Collaging found footage ..., existing and original sound, [Child] undermines the authority of the past (as attributed to photographs and texts), and the 'inevitability' of the future (as mapped out by social convention) .... While Child's film titles allude to detective serials, spy and adventure stories ... her films complexly examine everyday actions, perhaps suggesting that this is the terrain for strategies and struggles to keep open the question 'Is This What You Were Born For?' " - Kathy Geritz, Pacific Film Archive

COVERT ACTION (1984, b/w, 10 min. 16mm) disrupts the rhythm of remembrance by subverting the institution of the home movie. It loops footage of two heterosexual couples on holiday: embracing, touching, stroking, playing leapfrog, awkwardly arranging their bodies and posturing for the camera eye. The effect is a kind of choreographed dislocation dance, a man with one woman, then another, two women together. Child subverts the truncated language of conventional narrative cinema by interjecting title cards a la silent cinema as ironic counterpoint and uses a dialogue between two poets, Carla Harryman and Steve Benson, to confound any hypothesis regarding the footage. A sexual politic steeped in deception, a story only half revealed.

"Here rupture and repetition comprise the structuring principle. the film explodes in your face: it drives on until its final image, a summation of its prehistory, history and future-a tree being uprooted. What could be a more apt metaphor for the contemporary crisis in narrativity and sexuality?" - Robert Hilferty, NEW YORK NATIVE

Selected Screenings:
London Film Festival, 1986; First Night, Boston 1987; Osnabruck Film Festival, Germany 1987; Centre Georges Pompidou "Mot Image Dit" Paris 1988; Frameline San Francisco 1988; New York Gay and Lesbian Experimental Film Festival 1988. BACA Film Award 1987.
Please see http://www.abigailchild.com for more listings.

Rental Fees

  Fee  
16mm $80.00  

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