Monday, September 07, 2009
Piecing together a shattered mirror
I don't know why I'm doing this, only that I am.
Been googling links, images, articles on Alexis. Trying, I suppose, to piece him together in place of faded six-year-old memories.
Is that as crazy as it sounds? I suppose. But photos and testimonies and the miraculous medium of the internet have a way of throwing up the strangest artifacts on the shoreline of your search engine.
Take this little item found in Nostalghia.com, an Andrei Tarkovsky website (thank you, Trond, for the head's up!). Tarkovsky had visited Las Vegas in 1983, and in the May 1, 2008 website news notes two mentions from two separate accounts of a Filipino filmmaker who accompanied Tarkovsky on his tour.
Nothing more about that until a quarter of a century later, when Alexis emails the website with a letter providing this link, a still from Kidlat Tahimik's Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari (Why is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow, 1994); apparently the mysterious Filipino was Kidlat, and he had captured Tarkovsky's image and incorporated it into his film.
Another example of the mysterious currents that surge throughout the web: I'd only heard of Nika, never met her, I thought. Turns out I was wrong--I have met her and even written about her, almost a year before Alexis had; she had been one of a group of Slovenians I had talked to in my 2006 visit to Rotterdam (see the fourth to the last paragraph). I dug up my email to Ekran contributing editor Jurij Meden asking about her and found his response: "i imagine that a pretty blonde girl named "nika" was in attendance(she's the new editor-in-chief of ekran)."
Gabe Klinger in his wonderfully detailed tribute characterizes Nika as "hunched over the table, smoking furiously, and talking passionately -- as she always did -- about the state of things" I remember feeling the warmth of some of that passion (it was after the screening of Pangarap ng Puso, and she and some friends had cornered me in a little cafe table outside the screening room) as she needled me with her doubts about the Filipino film she had just seen.
We never met again, of course, but her questions must have bothered me more than I expected. In my Criticine article I write a more detailed and reasoned-out (if sadly belated) response to her. In a post some months later, I referred to that conversation again, adding a bit more to my response.
Did Alexis know who I was talking about? He never told me; possibly never made the connection, either. Did she read my additions? Maybe, maybe not; would be nice to think she did, but considering she still had Alexis to meet and a whole new country to deal with, probably not.
Wish we could have continued that conversation--not necessarily to change her mind, just find out what she thought of what I had come up with since (and then maybe try change her mind). Just another of the thousands of conversations I've had or will have in my lifetime that I wish I might have finished.
I think I'm glad that they met; judging from Gabe's tribute and other sources, theirs was a joyful, loving, fulfilling and yet terrifying relationship. I imagine they were happy the same time they had a thousand and one obstacles to grapple with (the clash of cultures, the differing languages, the finances, the dirt and grime and noise and oh god heat of Metro Manila). I imagine they were as busy and frazzled and happy as any pair of young lovers trying to build a home, trying to build the rest of their lives.
Anyway--in the interest of putting together a few more pieces:
The Letter I Would Love to Read to You in Person--Alexis profession of love to both Nika and Philippine cinema, easily the finest piece he's ever written, and a lovely, lovely bit of confessional meditation.
(edit 9/7) Paul Dumol's eulogy. Heartfelt, at times critical, ultimately honest. A eulogy, I think, Alexis might have appreciated.
Raya Martin's eulogy, this one from a close friend's POV instead of a mentor's.
Adrian Martin's, via girish shambu's blog.
Jonathan Rosenbaum's at his blog
Glenn Kenny's, at The Auteurs.
Jason Sander's at Filmmaker
Raymond Pathanavirangoon's at TIFF
Kim Voynar at Movie City News
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's beautiful minute-long tribute
Oggs Cruz's at his blog.
Celinejulie's, all bright pink
Sonthaya Subiyen and Richard MacDonald's. I especially like MacDonald's mention of Alexis' 'steeliness.'
Kanchat Rangseekansong's (in Thai)
(edit 9/10) Matthew Flanagan's blog, with a haunting photo tribute made out of stills from a Gustav Deutch short.
(edit 9/17) John Gianvito made this eight-minute tribute.
It's amazing, the reponse, all the thoughtful words and feelings poured out into the internet to date. We'll never have Alexis and Nika back, but we do at least have some measure of the breadth and width and depth of the imprint they have left on us.
photo from Alexis' livejournal blog