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‘When It Was Blue’ – A 16mm Masterpiece

When It Was Blue (Jennifer Reeves, USA/Iceland) (European Premiere, special screening)
Berlinale Forum, Friday, 13 February
Read the Forum synopsis

Paradoxically mournful and optimistic about the state of our planet and the 16mm medium, this triumph of handmade film, film score, live music, and skilled projection can be presented only at a few venues. I was fortunate to be in the audience at Delphi Filmpalast, and wish more theaters had the resources to deliver art like this.

Jennifer Reeves’ masterpiece employs double projection of superimposed photography and painting in multiple layers against a similarly superimposed sound design of recorded and live music. The effect is variously of nature and the human presence as abstract imagery with extended moments of naturalistic documentation.

A moment of breathtaking beauty – a flowered yard – and then it’s over, never to be experienced like this again.

Reeves edited the two films to create one, with space for subtle variations at each screening. The film was shot from 1997 to 2007, and edited/painted over a four-year period. Icelandic composer Skúli Sverrisson composed the score at the same time, in collaboration. The result is a wonder, connected to the human heartbeat, pregnant with loss and hope.

So many theaters have stopped projecting 16mm. And such flawless projection is rare. Delphi is to be commended.

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