Chicago’s Own: Film and Video by Stratman, Sykes, Broder, Froehle, and Lavenstein

The longest of the four works on this program of recent work by Chicagoans funded by the Illinois Arts Council, Deborah Stratman’s 44-minute From Hetty to Nancy, is a moving landscape film shot entirely in Iceland. Text is added to the wild, almost surreal vistas: rolling titles tell stories from Iceland’s history, a voice reads letters written by an English tourist, Hetty, to her friend as she travels about Iceland with a group of schoolgirls. The film’s primary irony stems from Hetty’s rather bored attitude: we see spectacular multicolored views of mountains and fields and sky and wildly beautiful rock, yet she complains that the land is mostly “stones.” A single movement within Stratman’s static images–the wake of a seal in still water, the movement of a lone wind sock beside a primitive airstrip–often makes them dynamic. The land seems complexly alive; the texts are layered with meaning, including a hint of lesbianism in Hetty’s detailed descriptions of her charges’ clothing and jewelry. The diverse stories of the text, most of which never intersect, remind us how differently the land can be viewed across cultures. On the same program, Barbara Sykes’s Song of the River, Roslyn Broder’s Mother, and Holy Water, by Paula Froehle and Hollie Lavenstein, a quirky narrative about a mother-daughter journey and some misused “holy water.” Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Sunday, June 29, 7:00, 773-384-5533. –Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): From Hetty to Nancy still.