Open City Documentary Festival

Open City Documentary Festival 2019 – Focus: No Data Plan, Films As Living Things

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This year, we’ve commissioned articles on each new feature film in the 2019 programme. Here, Shireen Seno talks about all that which leads into Miko Revereza’s No Data Plan.

The currents that flow through Miko Revereza’s films are charged and ricochet in all directions. Straight ahead. Up. Right. Straight ahead. Other side. Inside. Down. Right. Outside. Left. Right. Up. Inside. Outside. Left. Down. Up. Straight ahead. A set of directions like a GPS voice gone astray, but on purpose. A certain restlessness or tightness in the chest, a train-of-thought, an urgent desire to confide in the other, a call to conspire together. 

A few years ago, Miko shot a sci-fi film that he never finished. It ended up as a book he called ‘Data Kultura’, comprised of a set of images he grabbed online of Manila streets caught by robot cameras in self-driving cars, and a series of letters to and from top-ranked graduate art schools, in which he tells them he does not have an undergraduate degree, let alone any legal documentation, but asks whether they will consider him anyway. In it, schools act as loopholes for him to escape to another time-space. Disappointment. Exhaustion. Ghosting. Family photos stretched into infinity. 

The last time I saw him he was about to take the train across the US to attend his first summer at Bard College. He had worked his ass off working odd jobs to save up money for the tuition but was still short a couple grand. Friends and colleagues in Los Angeles pooled together their resources to auction off their work and help raise more money. Now, three years later, Miko is about to graduate with an MFA. His short films have since taken on a life of their own, and so has his first feature. Now, he has another short about to take off. 

I like to think of films as living things. But what does it even mean to be alive? What are you, but a collection of experiences and neuroses, with currents running through you and currents running around you. Making films can be a way of navigating these currents. To be standing, to be willing to fall, and to take a stand on things. 

Miko’s films call into question the very notion of what it means to be alive in 2019. His moving image practice, fiercely entwined with his immobility, raises questions not only about the medium but about the instability of our technological, artistic and geopolitical moment. His work deals with the very precarity of his existence, and looks not to gesture backwards but to move forward with conviction – inviting others into conversation.

Shireen Seno is a Manila-based artist and filmmaker whose work addresses memory, history, and image-making, often in relation to the idea of home. Her award-winning second film, Nervous Translation (2018) had a joint UK premiere at the Tate Modern as part of their Artists’ Cinema programme and Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival before being released theatrically across the UK. Seno is the producer of Miko Revereza’s forthcoming second feature, which has been selected for Assembly.

Miko Revereza’s No Data Plan screens on Friday 6th September at the ICA.