SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! As you gaze into the darkness, a voice screams back in the potent experimental short Ele of the Dark by writer-director-star Yace Sula. Sula films themself with narration playing over that reflects on identity felt versus what’s perceived. Images of the filmmaker in underwear are shown in a negative that reverses the pigment and gives them glowing eyes. Noises of rushing water frequently occur while blood gushes out from between their legs.
Ele of the Dark sports the texture of a damaged VHS tape, which is both expressionistic and nostalgic. Sula uses unreal lighting to frame the pictures within pictures to create an eerie atmosphere. While the viewer can intellectually understand the themes, the filmmaker seeks an emotional reaction. The confines of race and gender in society are felt, with tangible pain noticeable through the eyes.
“…reflects on identity felt versus what’s perceived.”
Sula invites audiences into this dark world. They then share a surge of liberation with everyone watching as they walk away from the constructs they were put in. The short induces a dreamlike state where the unspeakable can be spoken. This rejection of literal representation allows what is invisible to be caught and painted.
Sula maintains the tradition of experimental video as a vehicle for personal expression and continues the exciting notion of a single filmmaker with a camera exploring the depths of existence. Using abstraction and distortion, complicated conditions impacting perspective are recreated for those outside the artist. The viewer is put on a voyage through how it feels when you are queer and a person of color. It is a unique experience that is part of why experimental video is as vibrant as ever. The kaleidoscope of analog effects and formats is mesmerizing. Ele of the Dark is an impressive immersion into a surreal state of being, familiar to some and felt by all.
Ele of the Dark screened at the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival.