Set in 1987, soon after the People Power Revolution which led to the fall of president Marcos, Nervous Translation follows eight-year-old Yael. A shy and uneasy girl, she listens endlessly to the cassette tapes recorded by her father, who has spent years away from home working in Saudi Arabia. When she hears an advertisement for a pen that will give her a ‘wonderful life’, she decides to spend all her savings on this miracle pen.
Yael’s world is small and tender—she likes to play cooking on her mini stove—but the real world comes knocking: a typhoon approaches the Philippines. Giving a voice to this quiet girl in a perceptive, playful film full of jump cuts, sensitive sound design, ’80s music and even an odd surrealist intermezzo, Seno empathetically captures the innocence and uncertainty of a child who doesn’t yet understand the world, although she is surrounded by it.
Introduction by filmmaker Shireen Seno
UK premiere of Nervous Translation presented jointly by BFMAF and Tate Modern
The film will be preceded by the 2018 Berwick New Cinema award presentation
Empty Metal takes place in a world similar to ours—one of mass surveillance, pervasive policing, and increasing individual apathy. The lives of several people, each inhabiting poles of American social and political consciousness, weave together as each attempts to achieve some kind of forward motion, sometimes in contradiction, and always under the eye of more controlling powers.
A taut thriller, the film reveals a political fantasy, an alternative reality whose characters teeter on the dull knife edge that is contemporary American politics, at the same time refusing to fall right of left. Instead, they lash out from the soul, under the radar, in an attempt to achieve what their mainstream predecessors have yet to accomplish.
“Filled with energy, rage, and the smallest measure of hope, Empty Metal is a new kind of political film for these extraordinary times.” —Film Society of Lincoln Center
Q&A with filmmakers Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer