ON THE FILMS OF WESLEY LEON AROOZOO
One might say that part of, perhaps even the biggest aspect of, the craft of storytelling lies in the ability of the one bringing forth the tale to respond to tales, to stories, which are already in the world; lies in her capacity to see the potential tale in what is happening in the world; to see in the world the potential for tales; perhaps even see the world as potential tales.
And the fact that all of us are saying what a captivating back-story his book and film draws from is nothing but testament to — nothing but us bearing witness to — his sensibilities, his sensitivities.
One of the marks of a good artist is the ability to translate:
to transform the world through craft, bringing it forth through a medium such that they allow us to catch a glimpse of a world. And, the form through which Mr Aroozoo enacts a movement of the world — regardless of whether it is a play, a script, a talk, perhaps even when he teaches — is film: for, and here we should make no mistake, Wesley Leon Aroozoo is a maker of movements of blocks of time.
For, as one can read from both the textual and filmic versions of I Want To Go Home (but also the textual and stage versions of Bedok Reservoir), Mr Aroozoo’s concern is how time unfolds to us: which is why we always wait when we bear witness to his work.
And, as both Maurice Blanchot and Samuel Beckett have taught us, waiting is the very condition of thinking, of questioning — and as one is attending to Mr Aroozoo’s work (which is always a film, regardless of what it first appears to be), if one is paying attention, the question of what exactly are we attending to is never far from one. Of whether the film is a documentary of Mr Aroozoo’s trip to Japan; a testimony to Yasuo Takamatsu and his undying fidelity to his wife; an indictment of neo-liberal Japan’s indifference to the loss of life; of the tsunami as a figure that opens socio-economic questions in the polis that we call Japan; and so on and so forth. And whilst the fact that multiple forms, a variety of questions, within a film is certainly not new, what stands out is Mr Aroozoo’s sensitivity to the singularity of each of these forms. Such that he is willing to respond — responsibility and ethics being never far from his work, his approach — to each of these possibilities without attempting to reconcile them, drag them under a totalitarian gesture of the author.
Which means that Wesley Leon Aroozoo is not attempting auteur cinema — but something even more interesting. For, what he is doing is calling into question the very possibility of the author herself.
Where, his works — his films — are nothing more, and infinitely nothing less, than cinema as such.
And where, what he is responding to is precisely the possibility of a film — a film that is always already in the world, but one in which he is framing as film, naming as film — unveiling itself in and through time.
For, the fact is that his films — documentary, narrative, filmic, experimental, or otherwise — unfold as narrations; where his works shimmer with the discomfort of being trapped in the inevitable linearity of time in cinema.
And, perhaps more importantly, instead of taking the route of ‘non-linear’ presentation — which would be far too easy, and completely uninteresting — by deliberately allowing his films to uncomfortably unfold in their linearity, Wesley Leon Aroozoo shows us both the conditions and limit of film itself.