Video by Cecilia Dougherty


Review by Kara Williamson


The 8th Annual New York Underground Film Festival closed on Sunday March 12th with a double billed screening of Cecilia Dougherty's split-screen, installation-like video: GONE. Inside the Anthology Film Archive fans muscled through a packed East Village movie house in anticipation for the second sold out screening of GONE starring writer/performer Laurie Weeks as Lance Loud, a drifting artist.


GONE is thick with visual layers. It is a wry look at family and friends, where 'digi-scape' meets urban monument to reflect a hidden landscape of the underground artist.  The story is loosely based on a television series from the early 70's -- a real life TV docu-drama called An American Family staring the "Louds" -- and un-folds during a family reunion in New York City. In GONE Dougherty employs archetypal and cartoony characters that drawn from her personal life experiences to tell a story that speaks to the New York fringe. She draws on a world of homegrown talent whose life stories blur with the real and imagined. Painter Amy Sillman plays a visiting mother and musician Frances Sorensen, plays Lance's ambiguous live-in "other."



Sillman is the outsider submerged in an aimless and kinetic energy of the city. Inside the Chelsea Hotel Sorensen hangs out in the background like wall paper while humdrum conversation drones on between "the Louds" like two rocking chairs going back and forth over time. These characters are so alien in one breath yet eerily recognizable in another.


The sound score is an original blend of ambient tunes from keyboardist Johanna Fateman with music by Le Tigre and Mike Iveson that infuse montage sequences intercut between painfully funny narratives. In these non-narrative sequences urban environment meets the oddly organic --  a "forest" of towering flowers is slapped next to a towering brick building, scale askew. There is a stark contrast between the "Disnification" of Times Square and Jennifer Monson's naked dance performance. At first glance her dance seems out of context because it is so natural compared to the exterior shots of an encroaching digital world. In the end it is her realness that reinforces a reoccurring theme between the raw and familiar (or unfamiliar). These breaks in narrative add to an other-worldliness -- a dark and exquisite study of light and motion.


Dougherty admits that she stopped counting how long it took to create GONE after the fourth year. With her masterly use of images and narrative style aside, the dialogue going on between the split-screen is totally awe-inspiring. Like the more mainstream theatrical release of last year's Time Code, GONE is a fresh, experimental, narrative fusion that forces an active viewing.


GONE is soon to screen at Lux in London.


For more information on GONE{ www.gonevideo.com}