Get your head out of the gutter, this isn’t Grindr. When we say sleep we mean just that, or more specifically, dreams. Where do our minds go when our bodies goes nowhere? “Between the dreams of night and day there is not so great a difference,” according to psychologist Carl Jung, anyway. This may be true of our own dreams, typically a seemingly meaningless mash up of unrelated and mundane elements borrowed from daily life — the face of a childhood acquaintance now long forgotten, a coveted pair of shoes forbidden by a financial adviser/flatmate, maybe the occasional really good dream about a box set of unreleased Girls episodes. Director Sumie Garcia does not share our lack of creativity — she probably dreams in technicolor. Her latest short film, Simulacra, explores the “beautifully scary” nature of where we go when we slumber through a visually striking, fragmented video dreamscape.
A sense of unease overwhelmed us as we followed the film’s stunning protagonist, played by Pamie Marinakys, through a nonlinear maze of dissimilar landscapes and situations, unsure until the end whether we were watching a love story, tragedy, or slasher flick unfold. One moment she is sipping champagne with a friend who fancies herself as an amateur psychologist, the next she is alone amongst the branches of what looks like The Magic Faraway Tree with nothing but a menacing cubic mirror to keep her company. It made us feel confused, reflective and strangely hopeful for the future, all at once and in the best possible way…
After winning a slew of awards and featuring in film festivals such as the HBO New York Latino Film Festival 2011, Minneapolis Underground Film Festival 2011 (Winner, Best Cinematography), Visions Film Festival, Conference 2012 and the Savannah Film Festival, Simulacra premieres exclusively with Portable here. Right now. We spoke to director Sumie Garcia, who is a member of NY based film collective The Manship Society, about the film below…
Portable: The landscapes used in segments of the film are strikingly beautiful, where and when did you shoot the piece?
Sumie Garcia: Simulacra was shot in and around Savannah, Georgia, including Tybee Island and a marsh in South Carolina. The segments of the “mirror box” were shot in Guanajuato, Mexico and Mexico City, where I live now. The film was shot at the end of 2009 and was completed spring, 2010. It was presented as my senior thesis at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Portable: How did Simulacra eventuate—is it based on a real life dream about a boy?
Sumie Garcia: The script wasn’t based on any of my real dreams. It is more of a refection on disintegrating relationships, on how the unconscious mirrors the slow process of bonds breaking and partners becoming strangers. It is a very personal film, which also touches upon the dichotomy of living in two places and in two languages (Mexico and Savannah). There is a very clear influence of Maya Deren going on, even though when I wrote the script I wasn’t consciously aware of it. I am very interested on how dreams and memory work and the ways in which these can affect or reflect our waking lives and thoughts.
Portable: The film is at once pretty, eerie, melancholic, sweet and haunting. As the viewer we felt unsure as to whether we were watching a Sixth Sense style horror film or a romance — was this your intention in making the piece?
Sumie Garcia: My intention was to capture the universal feeling of dreaming and dreams’ unpredictable nature and flowing structure. I tried to read up as much as I could on dreams (Freud, Jung) and I also asked people to tell me what they dreamt. I never intended it to feel like a romance but the elements are inevitably there. Oftentimes dreams have unknown, surreal elements that make us feel scared but we quickly feel comfortable with. I really like this about dreams; they are beautifully scary and we really don’t understand why.
Portable: We were struck by the recurring mirror motif in the piece, how and why is this object significant?
Sumie Garcia: The mirror box is meant to represent and contain the woman’s memories and consciousness. Throughout the film she tries to keep the box to herself, to protect it and not share it with anyone. A lot of the melancholy present in the film comes from what is supposed to be in the box: memories of a happier time, places, childhood toys and fragments. Breaking the box is in a way an awakening.
Portable: We noticed that Simulacra was uploaded to Vimeo 9 months ago, is the film now ready to be birthed for its expectant audience?
Sumie Garcia: I hope there is an expectant audience out there! I feel like I am ready to totally let go of the film. It is not a personal piece anymore. It is for anyone who watches it.