Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s Hail will be showing today, 8 pm at the Camera, kicking off The Seventh Art’s brand-new monthly screening series.
Cicada–Aussie film-maker Amiel Courtin-Wilson‘s first collaboration with actor and former criminal Daniel P Jones–is a brief, ardent and chilling monologue shot in fixed close-up. Jones recites a story of a traumatic experience at a bar ran by his mother and father, in which–while receiving darts for one of the patrons–he witnessed a gruesome shotgun murder. From the start it’s evident why Courtin-Wilson has continued to work with Jones for five straight years; his retelling of the events is vividly horrific, detailing everything from his mother wrapping him up in a blanket shortly after the shooting to his grandfather dunking him in the bathtub with blood and skull traversing through the water. His gift for storytelling is matched in intensity by a suitably disheveled appearance, and bright green eyes hardly concealing a world of fear.
Cicada–formally muted and deceptively low-key–hits with such an impact because it seems Jones is reliving the memory in real time, frequently pausing his story to regain control of himself and looking ready to implode with rage at any given second. Given Courtin-Wilson’s inclination toward hybridizing documentary and fictional elements, it’s hard to say how much of the speech is guided performance–but it’s hard to doubt the sincerity of a person so fraught and plagued with marked suffering. In 2011, Courtin-Wilson released Hail–his next film featuring Jones and second full-length film after 2008’s Bastardy. The feature places Jones into a fictional narrative inspired by events from his past, playing a newly-released convict who reconnects with his companion Leanne. Essentially a love story between these two individuals, Hail expands upon the meek aesthetics of Cicada before reveling in abstract passages that represent the deteriorating stability of the protagonist. Taken together, the two films function as ambitious–and, it would seem, autobiographical–companion pieces about the abstruse reality of a marginalized man.
Watch the trailer for Hail below: