About this project
right below here is a montage of previous film work Daniel directed with his friend Gabriel ... this gives a good sense of some of the look and feel we'll invoke for Ninastiko. Enjoy :)
Hello everyone! And thank you for visiting the
Kickstarter page for our film, Ninastiko. Ninastiko is a not-for-profit collaborative art project initially conceived by Daniel and Alexander that takes
place in two incredible locations significant to both of us. Inspired by the
intensity and complexity of the physics communities where Daniel’s father,
Michael worked for many years, we have created a narrative that explores spaces
and subject matter rarely, if ever, represented in narrative film. We have been
given access to film on location in several historic and visually striking
areas, where Michael conducted research. Additionally, we will be filming in
the sublime wilderness of Glacier National Park, where Alex’s aunt works as a
wildlife biologist. Our film spans these two seemingly disparate locations,
exploring themes of familial love, scientific pursuit and cultural identity.
The initial possibility of this film is due in large part to the generous support from Daniel’s aunt, Kathleen Fowler and cousin, Georgeanne Freeman. Due to the ambition and scope of our project we are now seeking the financial support of other family members, friends, friends of friends (and you!) via the crowd-funding platform of Kickstarter. We CANNOT make this film without you! Our current goal is to raise a MINIMUM of $20,000. These funds will be absolutely essential to acquire film, equipment, insurance, transportation (car rentals/flights for cast and crew) to our relatively remote but irreplaceable filming locations – as well as to pay for our post-production costs, which will include development, color correction and sound design and mixing. Although this seems like a great deal of money, it is an extremely modest budget considering the technical complexity of our project. We very much hope that with your support that we will reach our goal and be able to share our vision with you!
ABOUT THE FILM
Set within the esoteric and transnational community of particle physics, Ninastiko explores the relationship between a middle-aged scientist from mainland China and her estranged adolescent children, who visit her at a research laboratory in the United States.
Negotiating conflicted ideals about the cultural distance of their own Chinese identity from that of their mother’s expatriated and globalized status, the children oscillate between feelings of reverence and abandonment when confronted by the consuming passion of her scientific pursuits. Spending most of their stay at the facility where their mother works, imaginative games engender nostalgia for home, and idyllic fantasies about a pastoral China drawn from the conflation of pre-modern folklore and romanticized accounts of their grandparents’ stories of the Rustication of Youth (the largely coerced mass emigration of Cultural Revolution youth from urban areas to rural areas, in an effort to mitigate overpopulation and catalyse a complex series of ideological aims).
Increasingly, the children come to embody an anachronistic tone which elicits a strong emotional response from their mother, whose own identity has been extensively shaped by the multi-national physics community. Distracted by pressing professional obligations, the mother, uncertain on how to connect with her children enlists a younger colleague to assist with their care. As time passes, the children become further drawn into the close and competitive circle of their mother’s associates, developing an unexpected attachment to a young Korean-American Post-Doctoral candidate.
When it is announced that a field expedition is
to be made in order to research a potential site for a new facility, the
mother, her colleagues and the children must venture into a remote wilderness.
Upon arrival, the scientists begin survey work in an area of land situated
between a Federally protected natural preserve and the Blackfeet Reservation.
There, building professional and familial tensions explode in a dramatic climax
that will radically reshape the future for all of them.
The multi-national community of researchers, engineers and administrators who work at the facility are part of our inspiration to explore a certain cross section of East Asian subjects. We are fortunate as well to be collaborating our friend, Chi Jang Yin, a Chinese-born filmmaker and media artist, who will be performing as the mother in our film. Chi Jang’s previous works have explored nuanced aspects of Chinese history and cultural identity through film and video (see her bio bottom right). Adding to the cast, we are excited to be working with our friends and talented performers, Haruka Hashimoto and Jennifer Kim.
Our friend, Charles Anderson, a Chicago-native, is the dedicated cinematographer who will help us create the visuals. Rounding out our small team, our friends at Ghost Robot in NYC who will provide invaluable help in the production of our film. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with all of these wonderful people.
Thank you so much for watching and reading :)))) !
SELECTED PRESS FROM PREVIOUS WORK
“Breathtaking… plays with and takes great pleasure in conflating genres of period piece, soap opera, and stylized music video while illustrating the stations of life…”
“Resolutely original vision of cinema, uncovering landscapes and exploring histories in a seriously playful and generously subversive manner … Wonder of cinematic imagination-in-heat … inspirational partnership…A micro-budget film, buzzing with interstellar ambition, flamboyance and guts … It’s a work of great imagination, biting chunks from the rule-book, pitching cliché against cliché … Mesmerising!””
-International Film Festival Rotterdam
“Adventurous … any summary of which is bound to impose more coherence than I suspect the filmmakers intended … (a) highlight of the series.”
“Preternaturally gifted image makers… They take history as a kind of occult knowledge that can only be revealed by a willfully perverse manipulation of symbols - something set loose by the spectacular collision of beautiful surfaces … The dance of these disparate registers and textures … is never less than astonishing.”
-Museum of Moving Image: Moving Image Source
“Approach(es) form as flexible and responsive, not as a genre to fulfill or a narrative shape to emulate … genuinely strange.”
“Recalling … fabulist narratives and the dark intimations of female adolescence … this beautiful and grave film envisions characters living at the edge of the known world-and perhaps of history itself.”
-San Francisco Film Society/Festival
“Dreamy … bold, visionary imagery”
-The Brooklyn Rail
-Vancouver International Film Festival
“Uses the tropes of mainstream cinema to make works that are by turns comical, thought-provoking and transgressive."
-British Film Institute: London Film Festival
"Sumptuously, meticulously photographed; cinematic; yet curiously at odds with its conventional mantle, it dances between feature film and long-form artist’s work, never quite allowing itself to be pinned by either trope … The interdeterminacy of space, it seems, is a theme that Abrantes & Schmidt use throughout the film – the withholding of meaning; the free interchange of signification – to great effect … Where we might expect to see closed sets of meanings presented within a taut, linear narrative, the artists play, presenting a multiplicity of meanings, momentarily, before closing the loop … It lives in the interval, in the black space, at death itself, perhaps. But it exists on its own, too, in a state of magical suspension … Its very length, too, at an hour, consigns it to an indeterminate, uneasy category – something almost subversive for a work with so ostensibly straightforward a method … Emblematic, perhaps, of a new fluidity in artists’ moving image practice and, beyond the recuperation of narrative … A challenge to the commercial, conventional form of feature film itself which goes beyond the assimilative strategies of … others."
-Experimenta, British Film Institute: London Film Festival
“Of all the images projected this year … those of Palácios de Pena … will no doubt have been the most unusual and beautiful … We are blown away by what we see on the screen. ”
“Proof once again that the best things come in the smallest packages … the opening … is among the most sublime sequences in recent cinema.”
“The film that created the loudest buzz at the festival sat awkwardly alongside these other works … Moments of sublime stasis … An exquisite ability to capture and transmit emotions … Refreshingly ambitious and largely mesmerizing.”
-Sight & Sound, British Film Institute
“The revelation of this section … An unclassifiable eccentric and political film, reminding of the most daring works of Glauber Rocha ... Two filmmakers of the future, that should be followed closely.”
-Cahiers du Cinema
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