Director: Beatriz Santiago Muñoz Run Time: 78 min. Release Year: 2022
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s first feature film, Oriana, “entwines the linguistic structure of Monique Wittig’s iconic 1969 feminist novel Les Guérillères with the material and conceptual ground of the Caribbean. It visualizes the ecstatic potential of a near-future, non-binary world order through the struggles of its protagonists to imagine a new sort of sensorium—an autonomous language of post-colonial and post-patriarchal society” (EMPAC). Filming in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, Santiago Muñoz collaborated with a cast of Caribbean musicians, poets, artists, and performers. The film follows the artist’s friends and collaborators in and around San Juan in the wake of Hurricane Maria working and cooking, dancing and resting, and preparing for battle amidst the abundant tropical vegetation.
Suffused with unexplainable encounters, Oriana unfolds across forests, caves, rivers, and the ruins of industry and colonial infrastructure. Encompassing both delirious choreographic interludes and attention to quiet rituals, the film maps a world of perceptual distortions, obscure gestures, and collective processes, one where quotidian objects transform into arcane weapons and where ancestral spirits and the recently dead become phantasmatically present. In a filmic space of everyday survival and collective invention, Oriana is less a speculative vision about what might be and more a provocation of how other futures are actualized in the present.
“Oriana is an experiment in translating the time of the novel into the time of the film within the surreal plane of a speculative post-Maria Puerto Rico…Oriana, like its predecessor text, establishes its mood through a series of asynchronous tonal shifts, drone, smoke, ceremony, ellipses, and alchemy. The experience is trippy, but it’s also not entirely without narrative or a sense of climax, even as the conflict isn’t exactly between characters because there aren’t any individual characters to speak of. In an era where cinephiles are eager to disparage the recent cultural compulsion known as “the remake,” Oriana emerges as a novel experiment.” – Lara Mimosa Montes
ABOUT BEATRIZ SANTIAGO MUÑOZ
The work of Puerto-Rican artist Beatriz Santiago Muñoz is the outcome of quality time shared between the participants – and often the co-authors – of her films, whether they are people, places or objects. For the artist, the camera is an instrument of mediation between those in front of and behind the lens. The mutual acknowledgement of the object’s presence is the premise for establishing key links that time and again reveal the departure points for her works. Conducted almost always from her native Puerto Rico and its surroundings, Santiago Muñoz’s multilayered practice unveils via aesthetic paths the structural elements of contexts still marked by the not-so-distant colonial invasions and where people live according to parameters that differ from those prescribed by global capitalism. Her filmography deliberately intersperses the documental with the fictional and is on its own an invitation to de-automatize a way of seeing and being in a world created and supported by Eurocentric narratives of progress and development. – Pivo