‘New meaning out of the pop-cultural canon’

The Backlot Cinema at Epsilon Spires presents films by contemporary Australian art duo Soda Jerk

BRATTLEBORO — After the end of Gallery Walk on Friday, July 2, Epsilon Spires will turn the parking lot of the historic First Baptist Church on Main Street into an open-air cinema experience for the fifth installment of its weekly Backlot Cinema Series.

The screening this week features two films by Soda Jerk, two Australian sisters - Dominique and Dan Angeloro - who use sampled footage from existing films and television shows to produce moving-image collages that create new meaning out of the pop-cultural canon.

The Was, a 13-minute collaboration with the musical group The Avalanches, serves as an homage to the formative cultural touchstones of those born in the 1970s and '80s.

In a news release, Epsilon Spires describes the film as “a fast-paced sprint down memory lane, cleverly blending footage from sources as disparate as Alejandro Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain and John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood to clips from Beavis and Butt-Head, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons.

While using a similar technical approach to The Was, the feature-length film Terror Nullius explores Australia's increasingly nationalistic political policies through remixing scenes from the country's most iconic films.

The title of the work is a subversion of the phrase that Captain James Cook reportedly used to describe Australia when he “discovered” it in 1770: terra nullius, a Latin expression meaning “nobody's land,” in disregard of the Indigenous people who had inhabited the continent for millennia.

“Soda Jerk's revised version of Australia's history inverts the narratives of power and colonialism, with a result so controversial that one of the main foundations that funded the project, the Ian Potter Moving Image Commission, refused to allow their logo to appear in the credits of the film,” the program organizers write.

“Fundamentally the film comes from a place of rage, of being truly pissed that any kind of social justice is so far removed from the national agenda,” Soda Jerk told Ocula in a 2018 interview about the project. They added that “sometimes you just need to collectively watch as a misogynist is devoured by a crocodile, or a bicentennial celebration is ravaged by flesh-eating sheep.”

Refreshments for the event will be available from Moon and Stars, a food-truck enterprise from Vermont's Upper Valley that describes its mission on its website as connecting “community, traditional food, and regenerative farming through heirloom corn and the arepa-making process.”

Arepas, a staple food in Colombia and Venezuela, are patties made with ground corn and served with toppings such as vegetables, eggs, cheese, and beans.

Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets, pillows, and chairs. Tickets, which include entry into a raffle for gift certificates to local businesses, are $10 each.

Restrooms will be available throughout the evening. In the event of rain, the screening will take place in the Sanctuary of the church.

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