Fiona TAN / digital / 80min. / 2016 (the Netherlands / Japan)
script,: Fiona TAN / producer Antithesis Films – Fiona TAN / cast voice-over spoken by Hiroshi – HASEGAWA Hiroki, Mary – Fiona TAN / financiers: Izu Photo Museum,Netherlands Film Fund, Wako Works of Art, Tokyo, Frith Street Gallery, London
Through a grey blanket of cloud the contours of a mountain can be barely discerned. This is Mount Fuji, a volcano with many faces and of immeasurable cultural and symbolic significance. We are lead through the film by the voices of two fictitious characters – Mary, an English woman and her deceased Japanese partner, Hiroshi. Mary receives a parcel containing letters and a collection of photographs from Hiroshi. His letters, in which he describes climbing Mt. Fuji, trigger within her a train of thoughts and reflections. The photographs we discover together with Mary.
4,000 exceptional and diverse photographs from the past 150 years form the basis for this film. Many images are of undeniably breathtaking beauty – ranging from early examples of nineteenth century Japanese studio photography to military propaganda photos from the thirties, from victorious American press images to amateur snapshots across several decades. These thousands of images enshroud the mountain like a cloud, revealing and hiding it at the same time.
This art film project is in essence a film made entirely with stills; a filmic experiment
balancing delicately between documentary and fiction. As the narrative unfolds unexpected and surprising paths are explored. Together with the two protagonists the viewer climbs Mount Fuji across geographical, temporal and cultural divides. The woodblock prints of Hokusai are considered, but also paintings by Van Gogh, philosophical views stemming from Asian philosophy, mankind’s connection to landscape, Mount Fuji’s religious significance, recent Japanese history. But central throughout is a questioning about the nature of photography and how it is possible to create cinema using only the minimum of means.
Fiona TAN is an artist working primarily with film and photography. She is internationally renowned for her skilfully crafted and intensely moving installations, in which explorations of identity, memory and history are key. TAN represented The Netherlands in the 2009 Venice Biennale. Her work can be found in numerous international art collections including the Tate Modern, The New Museum New York Guggenheim Museum, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Centre Pompidou. Her 1st feature History’s Future premiered in January 2015 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. It has received three nominations and is being screened internationally across many festivals. Ascent is her 2nd feature film. TAN is been awarded the prestigious Getty Research Institute’s Artist-in-Residence Grant and will be living and working in Los Angeles from September 2016 through to June 2017.