2011-2020Deborah StratmanExperimentalUSA

Deborah Stratman – The Illinois Parables (2016)


An experimental documentary comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois. But the state is a structural ruse, and its histories are allegories that ask what belief might teach us about nationhood. In our desire to understand the inscrutable, whom do we end up blaming or endorsing?

Shooting on 16mm, Stratman has produced one of the most quietly radiant movies of recent memory, working in the Midwestern palette of gray, green, and brown, relieved by the occasional snowfall. From these sections, which breathe in the aura at scenes of historical import in a manner that recalls the Straubs of From the Clouds to the Resistance or Itinéraire de Jean Bricard, Stratman moves on to other diverse techniques, incorporating archival footage and audio collage to revisit the devastation of the Tri-State Tornado, undertaking a reenactment of a reenactment of the death of Black Panther Fred Hampton at the hands of the FBI and Chicago police, and even seeming to sprout wings to view landscape sculptures by Michael Heizer from on high.

Nick Pinkerton for Film Comment

Accrue mythic histories of violence, martyrdom, atomic breakthrough, failed utopias, vigilante justice, telekinesis, expulsion. Let them comprise a suite of Midwestern parables.



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