SHOW AND TELL #22: Erin Espelie

Erin Espelie is a filmmaker, writer, and editor of Natural History magazine. She makes poetic, nonfiction films that have shown at the New York Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, CPH:DOX, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Imagine Science Film Festival, and more. She currently holds an assistant professorship in Film Studies & Critical Media Practices and serves as Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Eris is one of the speakers at our Artists’ Filmmaking Symposium this year. Confronting the elusive materiality of the digital world by way of the elemental surface of objects, she’ll set out along the scaffold of the Periodic Table to ask questions about how we frame and remember the world around us in varying iterations. Her past and current work, showcased in part at the Symposium, stems from recombining existing substances, pointing out their circularity, and cycling back upon the past to better see the future.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

[When] I’m just exactly where I want to be.
(Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

2. What lies at the heart of your own desire to make films?

That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox…

3. What are the first things you do in developing a film idea in response to a subject?

I am not so fixated [on a set plan], I can view it all as a puzzle and then put it together with existing pieces.
(Gesprach mit Ulrike Ottinger)

4. What’s your favourite film and why?

My feet hurt, my head was pounding, and I had to sit down: I went into a movie house. I didn’t know what was playing or anything; I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts and be logical and put the world back into rational perspective.
(Hannah and Her Sisters)

5. Choose 1, 2 or 3 of your all-time favourite music tracks!
Then suddenly – high above it – an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight!

6. From a favourite poem – could you give us a few lines that mean something to you?

The light is like a spider…
It crawls under your eyelids
And spreads its webs there–
Its two webs. . . fastened
To the flesh and bones of you

(视网膜 A Net to Catch the Light)

7. If you were to die and come back as a person, animal or a thing, what would it be?

“[Light] A spider.

8. What is your greatest extravagance?

Travel just to travel.
(Motorcycle Diaries)

9. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

I want- I’m looking for somebody to sell my dog, collect my clip, buy my animal and straighten out my bird. I’m looking for a place to bathe my bird, buy my dog, collect my clip, sell me cigarettes and commission my bath. I’m looking for a place that’s gonna collect my commission, sell my dog, burn my bird, and sell me to the cigarette. Going to bird my buy, collect my will, and bathe my commission. I’m looking for a place that’s going to animal my soul, knit my return, bathe my foot and collect my dog.
(No Direction Home:Bob Dylan)

10. What is your final word?