QUEENS ON SCREEN: SWERVE / ENTRE NOS
This Week In New York
By Mark Rifkin
July 13, 2022
ENTRE NOS (Paola Mendoza & Gloria La Morte, 2009) / SWERVE (Lynne Sachs, 2022)
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Friday, July 15, 7:15, and Sunday, July 17, 1:30, $15
The Astoria-based Museum of the Moving Image’s monthly “Queens on Screen” series — which is not about royalty or LGBTQIA+ issues but comprises films set in one of the most diverse areas on the planet — continues July 15 and 17 with two works set in the borough. Up first is Lynne Sachs’s seven-minute Swerve, in which artist and curator Emmy Catedral, blaqlatinx multidisciplinary artist ray ferreira, director and cinematographer Jeff Preiss, film curator and programmer Inney Prakash, and actor Juliana Sass recite excerpts from Pilipinx poet Paolo Javier’s O.B.B. (Nightboat, November 2021, $19.95).
Illustrated by Alex Tarampi and Ernest Concepcion, the book, which stands for Original Brown Boy, consists of such sections as “Aren’t You a Mess,” “Goldfish Kisses,” “Restrained by Time,” and “Last Gasp.” New Yorkers Catedral, ferreira, Preiss, Prakash, and Sass share Javier’s words as they wander around Moore Homestead Playground and Elmhurst’s HK Food Court. “The words each operate on their own swerve, from music that would play in the background and from overheard conversation outside my window, on the subway, at the local Korean deli,” Javier says at the beginning, writing in a notebook.
The film was shot in one day in August 2021, during the Delta wave of Covid-19, so many people are wearing masks, and the food court is nearly empty; when Prakash orders, a plastic sheet separates him from the employee. The performers recite the poems as if engaging in free-flowing speech; words occasionally appear on the screen, including “free emptiness,” “unknown thoroughfare,” and “hum your savage cabbage leaf.”
Experimental documentarian Sachs (Film About a Father Who, Investigation of a Flame), who was the subject of a career retrospective at MoMI last year, captures the unique rhythm of both Javier’s language and the language of Queens; Javier and Sachs will be at the museum to discuss the film after the July 15 screening.
Swerve will be followed by Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte’s Entre Nos, a deeply personal semiautobiographical story in which Mendoza stars as a Colombian immigrant whose husband deserts her, leaving her to raise two children in Queens. The film is shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young (Arrival, Selma), who makes the borough its own character.
In a director’s note, Mendoza explains, “Throughout my childhood my mother worked countless double-shifts at the toilet bowl cleaners business and flipping burgers at local fast food restaurants near me. We never talked about the roaches in the house or the yearning to see our family back in the country and culture of Colombia. Instead we had to learn to smile through the grit, the trial of tears, and dealing with heartache. As the years passed, I came to a sublime new realization that our story was not unique. Thousands of immigrant mothers, for hundreds of years, have endured problems when trying to adapt to their new immigration in the USA. My mother, like those before her, have overcome all that remains for exactly the same reason, to build the foundation for a better life for their children.”