Gina Carducci and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s beautiful, meditative seven minute short film All That Sheltering Emptiness explores rape, public sexual culture, and the troubling issue of arousal in the face of reluctance. Shot on 16mm, the film’s grain, flaws, and faded palette parallel the simultaneously pointed and ambiguous narrative voiceover.
Like the work of queer experimental filmmakers Barbara Hammer and Kenneth Anger, All That Sheltering Emptiness uses evocative imagery to explore themes of queer sex without the didacticism that narrative film often exudes. Sycamore describes a scene with a trick in a nameless New York hotel. Images of a hotel lobby and lingering shots of pendulous chandeliers blend into the poetic narration as she talks herself through the triggering power imbalance between hooker and john, payer and payee, fucker and fuckee. Sycamore’s cadence and exaggerated upspeak mask the seriousness of the question: What is rape? What is consent? An answer of sorts comes at the end of the film when the narrator says, “I didn’t want to call it rape because it was so commonplace.” This is a brave and incredibly beautiful piece of art that everyone should see.
The film's West Coast premiere is Saturday, June 26, 9:30 pm at The Roxie as part of the Frameline Film Festival.
A full text of the film's narration can be found at The Bilerico Project
Look out for Generations, Gina Carducci's 16mm collaboration with Barbara Hammer premiering in New York at MoMA September 15th. And, if you haven't already, read Mattilda's latest novel So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, and get ready for her new anthology: Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?