BRATTLEBORO — Epsilon Spires will screen Fresh Kill in the outdoor Backlot Cinema on Friday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m.
Artistic Director Jamie Mohr said in a news release that the film, which splices fact and fiction, is named for the actual Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island and “playfully extrapolates from our world in a sci-fi romp.”
Fresh Kill follows lovers Claire and Shareen, their daughter Honey, and their network of family and friends as they are thrown into confrontation with GX, a nefarious multinational corporation working to conceal a radioactive spill. Cats are glowing green and starting to disappear as rumors of fish contaminated with nuclear waste begin to spread.
Claire brings sushi home from her waitressing gig, and before long Honey begins to intermittently flash green, too. When their daughter vanishes, Claire and Shareen call on their friends, computer hacker Jiannbin Lui, poet Miguel Flores, and activist public access TV show host Mimi Mayakovsky.
Together, they uncover the corporate conspiracy that has made their daughter disappear, hacking into the GX Corporation's mainframe, staging renegade interventions on the evening news, and collaborating with the African Unity Network of activists working to block the arrival of GX's radioactive waste on African Shores.
Fresh Kill, Mohr says, “fantasizes an eruption of the oft-times obscured mechanics of environmental racism into plain view, connecting the real landfill on Staten Island to the radioactive dump sites on Orchid Island with the delirium of greenwashing and public relations.”
This is the first feature length film by Taiwanese-American director and multimedia artist Shu Lea Cheang, a self-described “digital nomad” whose work takes on racism, sexual politics, and the social impacts of media technologies by blending film, software, and interactive performance.
Her work, “Brandon,” memorializing Brandon Teena, who was murdered in Nebraska in 1993 when his killers discovered that he was a transgender man, was the first piece of web art commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum.
Mohr says Fresh Kill, produced in 1994, is “still relevant to the questions we are grappling with today around unchecked corporate power, industry's destabilizing impact on global ecosystems, and the unequal distribution of that harm onto communities that are already grappling with poverty and political disenfranchisement.”
The collaged style of the film, which Mohr described as “beautifully shot in candy-colored 35mm,” “intercuts lampooned TV commercials, hacked pirate broadcasts, and sweet filmic depictions of care in queer family.”
“Through these juxtapositions Chaeng explores media as both a mechanism of control and a potential tool of protest and change,” she continued.“A punk ethos of rebellion and fun rules throughout, while a hyper-anesthetized and surreal theatricality belies the director's fine art origins.”