DISCLAIMER: The following essays contain spoilers!
Inheritance. 2021. Directed & Written by Annalise Lockhart.
Starring Ron Brice, DeLeon Dallas, Victoria A. Villier, Mary Glen Fredrick, & Kathryn G. Howell.
Not Rated / 14 minutes
Horror / Science Fiction
★★★★★ (out of ★★★★★)We need more Black films in general; more Black writers, actors, and directors (etc). We also really need lots more Black genre films! Annalise Lockhart’s Inheritance takes an interesting Gothic concept and twists it into a sci-fi narrative, following a Black family whose land is overrun by ghosts. When Norra (Victoria A. Villier) is starting to get older and has a birthday roll around she realises she’s able to see ghosts on her family’s property. She finds out from her father (Ron Brice) and older brother Tucker (DeLeon Dallas) it’s kind of a family gift or, rather, curse. Dad and Tucker have been trying to come up with a way to be rid of the ghosts, so they can enjoy their land without being eternally harassed. They’ve finally found a method of doing that, even though it’s not necessarily ideal for them. For the family, peace is worth a price.
The whole concept of a Black family being harassed on their land, even if it’s by ghosts, conjures ideas of xenophobia and racism. That’s brought to a whole other level when we take into account the fact this particular Black family chooses to walk headlong into invisibility in order to escape the harassment of the ghosts. There’s a dreadfully sad and tragic quality to Inheritance by the end, in spite of the family coming to a resolution for their problem. They’re able to escape from the ghosts, but it means they’ve got to hide themselves away, quite literally. In one scene, Tucker asks his sister about how a ghost she saw made her feel, to which Norra replies: “Wrong.” Then Tucker says “maybe that‘s what they want.” That’s a strong statement because the ghosts are silent; all they do is stare. It says something about the way Black people, no matter if they’re poor or if they’re able to get ahead, must deal with the quiet, often unspoken microaggressions of being Black in a world gripped by whiteness.
At the same time as all the sadness, Inheritance shows Black people embracing nature and modernity at once, forging a relationship between science, technology, and nature in an effort to learn to live with the various histories embedded in the land. They’re a family coping with the psychogeography of their home, and though they’re forced into invisibility, they’re effectively recognising and respecting the previous histories of the land, whatever they may be, instead of attempting to eradicate them. In this sense, Norra, her father, and her brother are going against colonisation and invasion. This Black family manages to live in a way white folk simply haven’t been able to historically. Lockhart’s film can easily be watched as a claustrophobic, Gothic story, and it can just as easily be read as a little story with big social ideas in its ghostly bones.
Una Nuova Prospettiva (English title: A New Perspective). 2021. Directed by Emanuela Ponzano. Written by Ponzano & Simone Riccardini.
Starring Zoltan Cservak, Sipoos Balazs Gyula, Donatella Finocchiaro, Ivan Franek, Nadia Kibout, Allegra Michelazzo, & Mark Mozes.
Not Rated / 18 minutes
★★★★★ (out of ★★★★★)Annalise Lockhart’s Inheritance touches on psychogeography in one way, while Emanuela Ponzano’s Una Nuova Prospettiva takes an even stronger approach to the idea by playing with the very concepts of place, space, and time. Ponzano’s film focuses on three boys out wandering through the forest, where they see old clothes and many items strewn along a path, as if somebody’s luggage exploded in the midst of a trip. One of the boys wanders off on his own, coming upon a crying girl. Elsewhere, we see the girl’s father with a woman, cutting through barbed wire fence. The boy later witnesses what looks like a Nazi patrol making a group of people strip before gunning them down viciously. The boy also sees things that don’t make sense, like an electronic doll, and then a cellphone. And soon we see that the boy’s not living through World War II, he’s living in the present, in a time of renewed cultural struggles and military oppression.
Things change, but even then sometimes they stay too much the same.
“I heard war took place in these woods.”
Ponzano opens on the perfect image for a short dealing with psychogeography: a stop watch sitting in the mossy forest floor. The story’s all about time and our perception of it, by the end showing that the entire story’s dealing with our contemporary minds and their ability to make it seem like old history is either a) untrue or b) too long ago to matter. Some young people, because of what they’re taught, barely know about the Holocaust, which is not old history. Una Nuova Prospettiva is all about the urgency of making sure we teach the younger generations all the necessary histories they ought to know, rather than concealing them under continuous layers of further history in hopes that all the nasty bits will eventually be filtered out. The main boy in Ponzano’s short says he “heard war took place” there, implying he didn’t really know much, or he hadn’t been taught enough. After experiencing those earlier layers of history in the woods, the boy realises “there are barriers, barbed wire” even today where it physically doesn’t exist; the barbed wire becomes less and less identifiable, but it remains, violently dividing people.
The most stunning image in Una Nuova Prospettiva is when the boy and his friends reach the check point at a gate, where the viewer finally understands what’s been happening in those woods. At the gate and its fence the people behind it go from colour images to an image drained of colour, like it’s straight out of a WWII documentary; the movement of time flows backwards here, showing how things have changed but they’ve, somehow, also repeated. The film uses a quote by Primo Levi about “the memory of evil,” hammering home the necessity of passing on everything to the next generation, most importantly the truth. We see the necessity of remembering the truth in all the Holocaust deniers and the Confederate flag wavers today across the world. We must never forget history and that people will try to rewrite it, particularly the ugliest bits, because it can, and too usually does, repeat.