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.
Previous film fest posts from Altered Esthetics blog: