In Mark Street’s laid-back, loosely structured 50-minute Why Live Here? (1996) three people describe their reactions to living in different places: San Francisco, Florida, and Montana. At the end one of them says, “We live where we live because we like it, or we don’t hate it enough to move.” Sometimes the footage illustrates the voice-over humorously–as when we see rain and hear Florida described as a place “where the sun shines all the time.” Other times Street makes little attempt to shape or control his subject matter, shooting from a moving car or a shopping cart weaving aimlessly down supermarket aisles, suggesting that the narrators are passively defined by their surroundings. Alternating between styles, he uses sharp focus, jittery camera movements, red tinting, even four separate frames within the image. Though the characters can seem solipsistic, the filmmaker’s mix of playfulness and disorientation, childlike amorphousness and slacker disaffection, not only gives the film a unique tone but rescues his subjects from excessive self-importance: Street manages to capture their lack of pretense, their modesty, with an oddly affecting stylistic casualness. Also on the program are his Lilting Towards Chaos (1990) and Winterwheat (1989). Street will attend the screening. Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Sunday, April 13, 7:00, 773-384-5533. –Fred Camper
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Scene from “Why Live Here?”.