- Nina Fonoroff |
- 1994 |
- 40 minutes |
- COLOR |
Rental Format(s): 16mm
Obsessive journal entries, clinical reports, varied sources of music, and a series of watercolors depicting a pierced and bleeding brain are among the many elements that make up a narrative around the occasion of mental breakdown. Instruments of electrical transmission are metaphors for the diseased brain, as reconstructed by a woman who has lost her reason, her body, and her foothold in personal identity. The unseen protagonist at first attributes her illness to repeated hearings of a Chopin mazurka on the radio. Radio static, a telephone switchboard gone awry, a woman imagistically redoubled playing the accordion become points of departure for a rant situated in the remembrance of a mental state so extreme as to make impossible any attempt at representation. Like an overwound mechanism, her account is eclipsed by images and sound that derail the story's trajectory. The reports of a series of practitioners on the patient's symptoms and "progress" reveal the ineffectuality of conventional mental health treatment while the patient offers hyperbolic excesses in describing her experience. On the road to recovery, she searches for possible causes for the lapse of sanity. Her provisional understanding makes reference to a 1963 home movie of her family dancing on the lawn of their house: "It is not for me to ransack scenes of the past for clues or explanations ... so, let these people dance in place ... they have done nothing wrong ... there is no culpability to be found among these shadows."
"A collage virtuoso, Fonoroff uses the enveloping sound of music from movie melodramas and gothic radio plays plus a third-person, softly spoken voice over to bind wildly diverse images: home movies, off-the-TV detritus layered opticals with colors so delicate they look hand tinted. ACCURSED MAZURKA is an excavation of female sexuality that loses its dangerous edge only when it shears off onto a neatly framed chronicle of therapeutic experiences." - Amy Taubin, The Village Voice
Award: Juror's Choice Award, Black Maria Film and Video Festival, 1993
Exhibition: Museum of Modern Art, NY; American Museum of the Moving Image, NY; Pacific Film Archive.