Academic journal article Millennium Film Journal

Jennifer Reeves at Cinematheque Ontario, Fall 2004

Academic journal article Millennium Film Journal

Jennifer Reeves at Cinematheque Ontario, Fall 2004

Article excerpt

Susan Oxtoby: The Time We Killed premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival where it received the FIPRESCI award for best feature, and then picked up an award at Tribeca Festival in May of this year for best New York narrative film. I want to welcome Jennifer to introduce the film and then course she's here with us to take questions afterwards. Please give a warm welcome to Jennifer

Jennifer Reeves: Thanks for coming. I'm so glad to be here. I was struggling a little about how to introduce the film today because it evokes certain feelings that I had last Wednesday when Bush won another term as president. I still feel rather raw and depressed. So I prefer not to say a lot up front. I'll just say this is quite a different feature film than you're used to. We spend a lot of time in the head of a character that is somewhat of a split for me; it's shot like a diary in my own apartment, but is presented as a narrative. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have about it.

Film screens.

SO: Jennifer thank you so much for a very beautiful and teresting work. It's hard to come up with questions after such emotional experience as this, but I was struck by a sense of f reef structurally, and then obviously it's a project that has its own timeframe after 9/1 1 and delves into home movies. Could you talk to us a bit about how you broached this project: did it begin as a small project that grew? How did you arrive at the structure?

JR: When I started shooting, without a script, I thought the film would evolve into a longish short film based on montage. I was inspired by Warren Sonbert's work, and Jack Chambers' Hart of London. I think the film grew into a longer narrative with montage elements, because I was going through about as many personal changes as the world was undergoing at that time. t worked on it between 1998-2003. There was a murder/suicide next door, I moved, my father died, 9/11 happened, I ended a relationship and was alone, the invasion of Iraq happened. Original intentions or inclinations were not enough, almost irrelevant to me. As my perspective changed in response to changes in my life and in the national or global situation, I updated, added, subtracted material, and it turned into a feature. Not once but as ongoing

It's been almost a year since I finished the edit, and I already see it differently. I was trying to weave a lot of different concerns I'd had, including the idea of feeling paralyzed, not being able have real power in your environment. I also wanted to evoke gia via home movies. Eighty percent of the footage in the sequences are home movies or you could call it diary footage, twenty percent of the montage sequences are things I shot later to support certain ideas. The present day narrative scenes of the main character shot in the apartment all came later in the process, after a few years of shooting the home movies. I like the home movie parts best because they're about flying away.

My process was about wanting to weave together these different personal and universal themes which I felt were related, the idea of wanting to escape your reality, whether it is the reality of your own psychological boundaries, or what's going on outside of you. When dealing with these depressing realities you're using imagination in a positive way but also as a means of escape from pain and responsibility. I was trying to weave these many conflicting strands to show connections and make sense of them. At present I'm also seeing the film as a product of fragmentation, in the flight from reality one mode of escape can fail, so then you're looking for another kind of escape. Robyn's job writing romance novels is one way of producing a fantasy life, of trying to have intimacy and sexuality. Remembering the past with great nostalgia is another escape from what's going on right now: being an isolated shut-in, violence nearby and militarism. I was trying to bring out the tension between wanting to be in the present and continually struggling to get out of it, out of the room. …

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