The Winemaker: first taste of a feature in the making.

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In December of 2016 I came across a number of interesting tweets in which people were making connections between art (mainly paintings) and films via the hashtag which was linked to the Twitter handle . I quickly joined the movement of tweeps combining their passion of art and film which was apparently created by someone who likes himself to be addressed to as Narsiesse.
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On his twitter profile I noticed he was working on a short film called The Winemaker that had the ambition by way of a 4-part mini web series to eventually grow into a feature length film. The short has recently been released on Vimeo:
This is clearly a very personal project made in collaboration with his family members and dedicated to the memory of his father in-law Joseph Van Den Hurk who obviously had been a spiritual inspiration. The filmmaker has expressed that via his The Winemaker film (series) he wishes to combine his passion for First Nation mythos, Japanese culture, William Shakespeare and Art influences film references.
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Narsiesse has a Canadian First Nations background which is being referred to from the get-go via the ‘moving image’ of a running buffalo accompanying the title The Winemaker as well as with a relic/necklace I’m assuming is containing a buffalo tooth and via further artifacts later on.
It’s hard not to notice a couple of Stanley Kubrick references. One of the first images is that of a hand holding a bone with the sun in the background immediately bringing 2001: A Space Odyssey to mind.
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Later on there are 2 kids that appear at the end of a hallway who end end up holding hands. Even though they are a boy and a girl and not girl twins it’s impossible no to connect this shot with Kubrick’s twin sisters from The Shining. Is the character of The Winemaker what the character of the Caretaker(s) is/were for The Shining?
At some stage a female character is heard via a voice-over stating: “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Open locks, whoever knocks!” Yes we have arrived in Macbeth and hence William Shakespeare country. The boy is played by Narsiesse’s real life son called Laertes, yes the man has a passion for Shakespeare. Narsiesse himself plays Vic, perhaps a reference to The Old Vic in London famous for staging a lot of Shakespeare’s plays?

Some of the symbols and references to Japanese culture that were clearly in there I was less familiar with, perhaps they will be further explained in the future miniseries and or feature version.

Although the film was shot on an I-Phone the result looks great and contains some impressively executed transitions. A shot of the moon reflected in a puddle of water transitions from the circular moon into the circle of the iris of an eye and further into a drop of water dripping from a winemaking machine. It made me think somewhat of the famous series of transitions in Citizen Kane in which every transition focussing on the lit window and in which each transition moves the viewer closer to the bedroom window of the Xanadu palace in which Charles Foster Kane is to utter his puzzling last words: Rosebud. Perhaps the main reason it reminded me of the  Citizen Kane opening series of transitions is that it also contains one of a reflection in the water.

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I haven’t really discussed the narrative of the short yet, but that’s what reviews tend to overdo anyway. I therefore suggest you read the brief synopsis which is mentioned on Vimeo which appears to go beyond the narrative of the short.
If you are expecting a straightforward short film you may be dissapointed as the short seems to be conceived more as a teaser for things to come then it is a stand alone short film. I see Narsiesse’s project as if it were a ‘Matroesjka in reverse’. A Matroesjka is perhaps more commonly known as a Russian Doll. You have a big doll containing a smaller doll which in turn contains an even smaller doll and so on. Here instead we start off with the smallest doll, the short film that needs to excite the audience to want to see the next doll(s), the 4-part mini web series and culminating in the biggest doll, the feature, each adding new layers and meaning. It’s working for me so far.
You won’t be able to ignore it anyway, but please take a special notice of the lovely artwork Eugene Cobb () has designed especially for this film which is being showcased at the beginning and the end of the short film.
Jan Bollen

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