Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts


Kelly Reichardt

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Whiskey Baker 2 Whiskey Uncle Fox is an exploration through a young woman’s memory and imagination as she travels on a train. Beginning with the turning on of a transistor radio, the film alludes to radio and broadcasting throughout as the pace of the young woman’s memories quickly changes from one to the next. The constantly transitioning sound suggests memories function like sound waves and stations being changed on a radio. Once you meditate on one, you are transitioning into the next. The sound and imagery of the train also suggests constant motion and evolution. The young woman has gone through many different states of being depicted in her memories, but they move quickly, seemingly catalyzed by the speed of the train. The broadcasts varying from those of present day to World War II bleed generations together, showing how they affect and influence each other into the present moment and carry forward. The radio is linked to its operator, the grandfather character whom many of the young woman’s memories either depict or are associated with. They are shown together in the imaginary space of the house they live in. She appears as if she has been playing dress up, while he is depicted as an imaginary version of an old man in a monstrous mask. Although they have grown and changed, they maintain these identities of old man and little girl in reference to one another. As she cares for him, giving him his medicine, making him tea, and playing music with him, one senses she feels tied to the house they live in together and her relationship to him because of their history. As the film progresses and the pace of the young woman’s memories speed up, we see how she attempts to escape this interior world with her grandfather and go out into nature. However, even then, her history follows her and she cannot escape the child she once was and the family she is tied to. This is depicted in 16mm footage of two separate little girls, one playing outside in a playhouse and the other either in costume with the old man or in normal clothing at the dining table of the house they inhabit. This blending of time, memory and identities is reiterated throughout. At the end of the film, all of the fragmented memories piece together into cohesive, interweaving segments. The train stops, but the young woman’s identity is still meshed together with those of the young girls she once was and that of the grandfather figure, whose own history has affected so much of her own. The piece attempts to capture the feeling of grieving for your past while using it to embrace the future you are becoming. Beginning this project as a narrative, it has taken many twists and turns. I wanted to make a film about something I knew and so started writing a narrative about my grandfather and the act of caring for an elderly loved one. In the process, my grandfather passed away. The piece then transformed into something much more impressionistic and personal. The name Whiskey Baker 2 Whiskey Uncle Fox is the NATO name my grandfather used on his transistor radio surrounding the time of WWII. Much of the film is about my relationship to my family and my fascination with the function of memory in someone’s life, always keeping aware of the people you’ve been and how you are a product of other’s memories. It’s also about the application of childlike imagination and curiosity to every day reality and how you never really escape things that affected you as a child. Some of the footage I shot earlier in my career at Bard. The rest I shot this year but was informed by those pieces. My hope for this project is that it functions for me like a time capsule, capturing what I’ve done at Bard while helping me to move forward with a clearer idea of how I want to approach work in the future.

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