Pars­ing the hu­man con­di­tion

Film­maker Am­ber Sealey

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

her third fea­ture film, No Light and No Land Any­where, writer-di­rec­tor Am­ber Sealey crafts a mov­ing, moody, and em­pa­thetic char­ac­ter study about a woman search­ing for the fa­ther who aban­doned her when she was three. In Los An­ge­les, she meets some of life’s more des­per­ate and lonely char­ac­ters, who are not re­ally un­like her, per­haps, in their long­ing for a hu­man con­nec­tion. “There’s some­thing quite beau­ti­ful and pow­er­ful about the hu­man con­di­tion, but there’s also of­ten some­thing quite lonely,” Sealey told Pasatiempo. “At the end of the day we are all alone, and when we have these in­tense life strug­gles — a birth or death or try­ing to find a par­ent, as Lexi is in this film — ul­ti­mately, we have to go on these jour­neys on our own.”

Sealey, whose film screens as part of the Santa Fe In­de­pen­dent Film Fes­ti­val, was raised in Santa Fe and started her ca­reer in the arts as an ac­tor. At seven­teen, she was in a pro­duc­tion of Hair at the James A. Lit­tle The­ater that caused a bit of an up­roar. “There’s a big nude scene. My par­ents were hip­pies, and they were like ‘Well, she’s com­fort­able with it. It’s her choice.’ There was smoke and re­ally dim lights, so you couldn’t re­ally see any­thing, but some­one in the au­di­ence knew me, and knew I was seven­teen, and they got re­ally up­set and com­plained, and I didn’t get to do that scene.”

At the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia – Santa Cruz, she stud­ied the­ater and mod­ern dance. “I got very in­ter­ested in de­vised the­ater, where you’re ba­si­cally com­ing up with your own scripts and you col­lab­o­rate on the writ­ing. Then I moved to London and did a lot of de­vised the­ater there. Part of what I would do is make video com­pan­ion pieces that would go along with the live per­for­mance. I got more and more in­volved in the video part. From there, I made a short film. Then I made a fea­ture film. It was a slow ... process that led to di­rect­ing. I still act a lit­tle bit, but now di­rect­ing is my full-time thing.”

Sealey fin­ished post-pro­duc­tion work on No Light and No Land Any­where in June and im­me­di­ately pre­miered it at the Los An­ge­les Film Fes­ti­val, where it won a spe­cial jury award. In the film, mo­ments of introspection are jux­ta­posed with an al­most doc­u­men­tary style of film­ing: hand-held cam­era work that pulls the au­di­ence in. Long mo­ments with­out di­a­logue play out as Lexi searches the Los An­ge­les streets, os­ten­si­bly search­ing for her fa­ther but re­ally search­ing for her­self. Gemma Brockis gives a mov­ing per­for­mance as Lexi, con­vey­ing a depth of emo­tion through her eyes. “For me, it was re­ally im­por­tant that Lexi be this char­ac­ter who thinks that find­ing her fa­ther is go­ing to be the an­swer to her prob­lem, and then dis­cov­er­ing that the power for joy and find­ing a con­nec­tion was ac­tu­ally within her­self and not some­thing ex­ter­nal.”

Sealey met Brockis in London. Brockis had lost her own fa­ther at a young age, which makes her per­for­mance that much more com­pelling. “That was a real in­ter­nal thing for her go­ing on . ... There’s a piece of it that comes from my own per­sonal life as well. I’m very close with my par­ents, and I talk to them al­most daily on the phone. Yet there’s al­ways that dis­con­nect be­tween chil­dren and par­ents where there’s a gap in com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and even if you are close, there’s al­ways a dis­tance there. I think that’s pretty univer­sal.” — Michael Abatemarco

“No Light and No Land Any­where” plays at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs­day, Oct. 20, at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts (1050 Old Pe­cos Trail, 505-982-1338) and at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (211 W. San Francisco St., 505-988-1234). Tick­ets, $15, are avail­able at www.santafein­de­pen­dent­film­fes­ti­val .com/Tick­ets and at the door.

No Light and No Land Any­where

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