To cut a tree on a green moon
Cortar un árbol en luna verde
Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
Felipe Esparza’s To Cut a Tree on a Green Moon brings non-narrative modes of storytelling to a journey through the jungle. Through the stark black and white images of the jungle we are brought a sense of wonder and mystery, a concoction of confounding and intoxicating visuals that compel us to feel not think. This stance fosters an intriguing relationship to the land and the jungle.
Arguably, the mode of storytelling involved in this film inhibits our ability to project our own thoughts and images onto the screen. Our journey through the jungle in some sense brings to mind Columbus’ own journey and the progressive colonial plunder of the Americas. For Columbus and future conquistadors, the promise of El Dorado, the legendary myth of the City of Gold, acted as a European projection of exotic enticement that plundered the Americas. If we are to project our own ideas of the jungle onto it would we replicate the destruction?
Instead, Esparza asks that we feel the jungle, without thought, through visuals and sound. We must feel the images through are senses, sound and the ear being the chief recipient of pure phenomena. In this way we are presented with a pure optical-sound situation that defies our comprehension of it. We must relax and somehow negotiate our inability to fully know the land we see.
This has its political ramifications. As Esparza shows, this land belongs to the indigenous people we see both organised within the land and participating in religious ceremony in. Rather than represent these people in ethnographic terms, which proceeds from the idea that they can be known and categorised, the film obstructs such thought. Instead, the silence of their bodies that greets us compels us to silence ourselves, a silence in which we may observe the violence of Western knowledge.
Felipe has asked that we link you to two resources:
https://www.actualidadambiental.pe/el-chino-una-comunidad-loretana-adaptada-al-cambio-climatico/ – The conservation area El Chino where Felipe produced To cut a tree on a green moon
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1NxlnvNRpXXWrgeXIzitoAF-4hL0h31H9 – Google Drive with short film material in by Felipe