Frances Nkara shares her thoughts on storytelling, audience reactions
and why she chose the images used in DOWNPOUR RESURFACING.
What do you hope to achieve with this film?
I hope to offer people struggling with the long-term repercussions of abuse, or anyone struggling with unresolved pain, evidence in Robert that we can find joyful life where it has all too often been centered in anxiety or grief. I also hope to offer a new way of telling nonfiction stories, one that values subjective truth through connecting the nonverbal insights of modern and postmodern experiments with rational, verbal exposition and analysis.
How did you decide to mix the Robert Hall interview with the other images you chose?
Robert's story is about splitting off from memory and feeling, and then healing through repetitive cycles of reconnection, especially through body-based therapy. I wanted as much as possible to give the audience an empathetic experience of his process through the body of the film, the style of its images and sounds, rather than making a direct match between pictures and his words, which can engender a rather intellectually oriented viewing. Some of the images could be seen as a literal interpretation of his stories, but most of them are allegorical, as in the language of our dreams. I let them break and split like a psyche does under duress. I created a separation between what he was saying and the pictures, like the separation between what we tell ourselves when we cope and a deeper truth we have yet to acknowledge and assimilate.
This approach tells a different kind of truth, the truth of our feelings, in subjective documentary. The tea overflowing and poured into soup were images evoking the confusion and overwhelm a child feels with ordinary actions taken inappropriately. The tea master represents that part of us which sets out through exquisite ritual and revisiting, to bring about order and beauty. As in the healing process, intermittently and increasingly there is connection between the words and the images, like the moments when we see Robert talking.
How have audiences reacted to the program?
Usually there is a palpable still after a screening. People go inward, and the images can linger in the imagination for quite some time. Many people have found a new way to talk through trouble with family members and reconcile.
The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated?
The need to connect with other people in a way that augments cultural and social maturation.
Why did you choose to present your film on public television?
Public television is the ideal forum to present a challenging film to a large audience. This piece asks the viewer to open up and experience something that may change them. That kind of dialogue can't be framed with invasive pitches to buy things, as happens on commercial stations.
If you weren't a filmmaker, what kind of work do you think you'd be doing?
I'd be a musician!
What sparks your creativity?
Looking out into the world for the threads of things that need to be told, that are aching in many of us, but have not yet been unraveled. That and the moments when something unexpected opens up my perspective.
What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?
Don't finance through credit cards. Go deeply within yourself to find your own style, dreams and stories, stick with that essence, and give to the audience. Have the patience to find something special through every step, and keep working!
If you could have one motto, what would it be?
Meditate on common benefit, listen to soul, choose what feels alive.