Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Detective City Angel: A Film by Alessandro Cima

Want to follow a secret identity artist through a dangerous Los Angeles as he escapes and hits like a criminal? Hang on and watch carefully. You may need to watch it 14 times to catch the drift. But you've probably got that kind of time anyway.

This is a Los Angeles crime film. But it's as if several films on celluloid fused together and what you end up with is an art film that gets overwhelmed by urban documentary and then collapses into a narrative thriller. It's filled with hints, clues, evidence and misdirection. Images, ideas and sounds bounce off each other, mirror each other. There are secrets in this film. You have to watch carefully, through layers to catch things. I've tried to make a film that moves like disjointed thoughts toward the preordained ending.

During part of the shooting we found ourselves quite amusingly right smack in the middle of what was obviously a criminal lair. We had to leave quickly. But we returned with a very rapid coordinated sneak attack to film at the place several hours later. You'll never guess which scene in the film I'm talking about.

Underneath everything is the city of Los Angeles and its power over the imagination. The grimy and false facade of the city distracts observers and its inhabitants from the deep power of its mythology. If there is any American city where the ancient gods play, it is Los Angeles.

In my film, the increasing association of the artist with criminality is central. The artist as a secret identity is a perfect and unexplored area for film noir. This is probably the overriding concern of the film. The artist constantly under threat but using that threat to drive the creative impulse, even in the face of death.

The dark, gritty elements of film noir, especially that of the Los Angeles brand, inform everything in this piece. Various personas or aspects of the personality fight for identification even while running for cover. One part of the mind kills off or suppresses another, wants to be dominant and unknown at the same time. Unconscious forces create images that reflect one another, contradict, and foreshadow.

Secrecy, identity, escape, art as crime, artist as troublemaker, the anonymous creator who controls events, the protection of the delicate and easily destroyed creative impulse, the conflict between experimental and narrative film, the inescapable instinct toward narrative, the mask worn as both expression and protection. These are some of the themes I am at least touching upon.

It's a sort of psychotic noir film. The noir of dreams.

With a couple of brief exceptions, everything in color was shot in Los Angeles over the past 11 months. The music is by Kevin MacLeod who offers his incredible compositions through http://incompetech.com. The actors in the narrative portion are Joshua Fardon, Renato Biribin, and Laral Cima.

This is a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) production.

Filmed in Los Angeles December 2010 - September 2011
Canon DSLR and HDV cameras
Produced by Candlelight Stories, Inc.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com
Music is licensed as Creative Commons non-commercial - no derivs - attribution

Digital B&W archival footage from the Prelinger Archives at the Internet Archive - archive.org/?details/?prelinger and from the public domain feature collection at archive.org. However, some B&W footage was projected from 16mm directly into certain scenes as they were filmed.