Directed by Rea Tajiri
Official Selection, 2014 CAAMFest
Official Selection, 2014 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Rea Tajiri, one of Asian American cinema’s most important artists, makes films that probe through the senses, films that unframe images from their dusty space on the mantle and unsettle them with reimaginings. Less concerned with an excavation of “truths,” Tajiri’s works construct a space filled with the gravitational pulls of history, longing, and memory – invisible pulls that alter and refigure our perception of the present.
With LORDVILLE, Tajiri complicates her work on dislocation – this time with ownership and, more profoundly, our complicity. In 2003, Tajiri purchased a house in Lordville in upstate New York, joining 50 residents who lived in this once-booming, now literal ghost town. By coincidence, Tajiri’s home had an existing paper trail of stolen land, with a family tree that reached back to white land speculator John Lord and his wife, Minisink Delaware Indian Betia Van Dunk who was legally barred from inheriting her own property. Conjuring the settler, the geologic, the nation, and the intimate, Tajiri walks property lines, visits residents, conducts environmental readings and genealogical research, and brings us the deep pleasures and mysteries of a relationship to place, asking: what does land ownership mean? It’s a provocative question, through which Lordville emerges as a place of twisted trees and hauntings that exhale history, and land that itself thickens, breathes, and resists.
As with Tajiri’s canonical History and Memory, LORDVILLE is unsettling, meditative, and mundane all at once. And as with that past work, LORDVILLE may prove to be a kind of paradigm shift in Asian American filmmaking, asking questions about Asian American complicity and the ongoing colonization of the Americas, underscoring yet again Tajiri’s place as one of our most pioneering artists. –Christina Ree