Little Presents: Films by Stephanie Barber | Chicago Reader

Little Presents: Films by Stephanie Barber

Stephanie Barber, a young filmmaker from Milwaukee, has one of the most original visions to emerge recently from the diverse experimental film scene. Deceptively simple at first, her work is unique in the way it alters and even suspends time. Woman Stabbed to Death (1996) juxtaposes a collage of radio sounds with two endlessly repeated images—a woman looking away and a man moving very slightly toward the camera—that come to represent one's fixation on a moment of trauma and the desire to halt its progression. In the lush A Little Present (For My Friend Columbus the Explorer) (1996) brightly colored images suggest still photos of fireworks, though they're actually made of small fiber-optic decorations. In Metronome (1998), which Barber describes as “a film about the loss of love,” the sound track to a radio play (in which a slowed-down voice sings “I'm no longer in love with you”) contrasts with stills of mostly empty and anonymous institutional spaces—a swimming pool, a mall exterior. The film oscillates between emotion and its denial, the spaces impersonal and desolate. On the same program: Angus Mustang (1996), They Invented Machines (1997), Flower, the Boy, the Librarian (1997), Pornfilm (1998), and Shipfilm (1998).

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