Interview by Marcie LaCerte
My first impression of Christopher Lange's film "Oracle" was that of immediate awe—his film stood out, quite significantly, with its gorgeous cinematography, confident storytelling ability, and superb acting. Subsequent viewings only heightened my appreciation, and I jumped at the opportunity to interview him for the Ae Film Fest.
Personally, I feel lucky to have a figure like Lange present within the Minneapolis film community, as his work feels singular. Read on for his eloquent thoughts on the inquisitive camera, the importance of local cinema, and animal magic.
Hi, Christopher! Thanks for agreeing to an interview. I thought your film “Oracle” was beautifully filmed and acted. There is a quality of sincere intimacy that doesn’t feel artificial or forced—watching the film feels almost voyeuristic, and the horror elements are made all the more shocking because of this juxtaposition. What connection do you see between intimacy and horror? What draws you to this particular thematic combination?
The camera can be inquisitive; it can peer into private lives. In Oracle, this quality occurs in idle and small moments, creating a little dark enigma for the viewer. The main character uses eye and mind to search for something building inside; the camera searches in a similar way, but at her. These quiet moments are interrupted by the horror. I appreciate the flow of that: inner questioning and then a dark fissure to prevent understanding, like a dream.
While watching your film, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to other films and shows, like "American Beauty" and "Twin Peaks". What works of art influence you, visually or conceptually? (And are my picks right?)
Well, I do like both of those. I was a big fan of American Beauty when it came out, and Twin Peaks is pretty great. I understand why you mention American Beauty, because of the boyfriend with a camcorder. They weren’t really a reference on this film, but probably a part of my process unconsciously. David Lynch is an influence in general; visually, Lost Highway was on my mind. I was also influenced by Leos Carax and Lars von Trier. I was also thinking about photography and death, shamanism, animal magic, and stuff like that.
Your video and photo work is often shot on film, and you use the innate qualities of the medium to create a distinctively hazy and enigmatic aesthetic. Does your choice in medium affect how you tell your stories?
I tried to find ways to give that hazy quality to make it seem more dream-like, or to make the viewer question whether the dream is reality or the reality is dream; a blurring of borders. I think that choice in medium affects the story. This film was shot in HD, though I would have preferred to shoot film. I have used 16mm and 35mm, and it’s a beautiful process that I would like to use again.
Are you working on any interesting upcoming projects?
I freelance as a cinematographer; we’re just finishing up a feature length science fiction film called Project Eden. The director and producer are from Australia and brought the project to Minnesota.
What do you want your relationship to be with your local arts community?
The Twin Cities should nurture and grow its film community. It needs to support and advertise its local talent and try to get more films made here. I want to take chances in my films, and we should embrace our film community to do the same.
Maybe we need more screening events or more ways of meeting capable collaborators. We need to mix up the stew, form new alliances, make new and interesting things together, and then allow these films to be seen together.
We’re not really in a film industry city though, so it’s just not the same, especially the financial investment. It would be great if there were some more investors or other resources that would take chances on cinematic artists here in MN.
It’s important to encourage people to watch local films. There are a variety of quality film festivals here, so that’s a good opportunity to screen work and see interesting work. In the early 2000s, I really loved it when I could watch great films at the U Film Society and the Oak Street Cinema. The Oak Street did 24 hour film fests periodically. That was no-pressure fun, and maybe it could have sparked some more filmmaking adventures for the local community.
I definitely need to make it to the Trylon more. I’d like to meet more capable and passionate storytellers, production folks, and producers here.
Other than film, what else are you passionate about?
I enjoy photography. I like to go on hikes and do some nature photography. I like watching and making experimental films too.
Thank you, Christopher!
"Oracle" is nominated for the festival's Creative Vision Award and will be shown Friday, July 29 as part of the Innocent Campfire screening.
You can see more of his work on his website and his Vimeo.
noun syn·es·the·sia \ˌsi-nəs-ˈthē-zh(ē-)ə\
1. Featured Artists
2. Creative Vision Award Nominees
3. Supporting Artists
This year’s program will screen additional supporting artists and host a variety of workshops not listed here. Details will be announced shortly, including how to access tickets to festival events. Follow the festival’s guide here. Sponsors and partners include The Southern Theater, KIND Healthy Snacks, White Cap Creative, and The Food Group of Minnesota.
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize promising artwork from artists who are unique in artistic approach and/or technique. Tokens of recognition and honorariums are given to Featured Artists.
Andrea Shaker (MN)
Adam Dargan (MN)
Creative Vision Award:
Festival curators have nominated seven artists this year for their achievements in creatively expressing and visualizing deep meaning. The final recipient is selected by a team of local jurors and is awarded a token of recognition and an honorarium. The recipient of the Creative Vision Award is announced in early July.
Essma Imady (MN)
Dan Murphy (MN)
Viola Liu (MN)
Christopher Lange (MN)
Anne-Marie Bouchard (Canada)
Ella Mikkola (Canada)
Eeva Siivonen (New York)
Dane Cree & Claire Strautmanis (MN)
Katayoun Amjadi (MN)
Nate Christenson (MN)
Hannah and Molly Nemer (MN)
John Akre (MN)
Marcie LaCerte (MN)
M. Parker Stuart (MN)
Anna Taberko (MN)
Emily Downes (MN)
Edwin Yang (MN)
Nathan Wold (MN)
Jason Ewert (MN)
Max Landy & Theng Thao (MN)
James Vogel (MN)
Christine Lucy Latimer (Canada)
Ivetta Sunyoung Kang & Ashley Sabin (UK)
Marianne Blicher (Denmark)
Guðbjörg Hlín Guðmundsdóttir (Iceland)
Robert Lyons (New York)
Kate Shults (Florida)
Jillian Acreman (Canada)
Xuan Yang (California)
Jonathan Johnson (Ohio)
Lindsay Greer (Illinois)
Kevin Pontuti (Wisconsin)
Phoebe Tooke (California)
Josh Weissbach (Connecticut)
Edward Ramsay-Morin (Texas)
Rosie Trump (Texas)
Jelena Sinik (Australia)
July 27 - 29 /Primary Festival Programming / The Southern Theater
July 31 / Community Closing Event / Cellular Cinema
Jes Reyes, Ari Newman, Madie Hamilton, and Marcie LaCerte
Creative Vision Award Jurors:
More on Altered Esthetics and its annual moving image festival:
Over the past ten years Altered Esthetics has hosted over 100 group exhibitions, launched a solo exhibitions program for emerging artists, and have brought the work of more than 500 artists to public view - many of whom were sharing their artwork with the public for the very first time. Altered Esthetics largest program is the the Ae Film Festival (formerly the Ae Art House Film Festival), an annual event dedicated to the organization’s mission to foster an inclusive and sustainable arts community through exhibitions, education, and outreach.
By drawing on a broad range of innovative modes and techniques, the festival exhibits artists who explore the art of the moving image, including artworks that represent experimental narratives, avant-garde poetics, genre expanding documentary, and contemporary art practices. The selections of short film and video work and accompanying panel discussions stretches the notion of what the moving image is and can be.
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Altered Esthetics is an arts advocacy organization based in the Twin Cities. We provide open spaces for curated art exhibitions and workshops. Our community includes a diversity of artists, mediums, audiences and volunteers. Altered Esthetics is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Consider donating to support the work we do.
Previous film fest posts from Altered Esthetics blog: