film January 22, 2014 By Sophie Mollart

From Godfrey Reggio’s <em>VISITORS</em>. Courtesy of: Cinedigm

From Godfrey Reggio’s VISITORS. Courtesy of: Cinedigm

I used to sleep on his kitchen floor when I came to Manhattan, so in that sense I’m part of the family; his participation is not limited to when we hire him – he’s involved in the soul of the project is from day one.”

Another key collaborator is editor Jon Kane, who has worked with Reggio since Naqoyqatsi. Kane, who works out of his vibrant Red Hook studio, serves as an intermediary between Reggio and the more technological aspects of modern filmmaking. “We make an assemblage first of a rough structure of the film, before Philip starts writing the score, and then we start going back and forth. He comes to the studio and sees the dailies and at a certain point he starts to feel that he’s got an idea; there’s no real formula to it; there’s a lot of work we do in collating the footage and creating the language of the film before he begins.”

Visitors features one recurring face that Kane describes as the star of the film – a resident of the Bronx Zoo, Trishka. “We shot many gorillas to find the one we wanted; we needed to make it seem like we were photographing her in the same manner as we were everyone else, but we weren’t. She was in the zoo, it was in color, she was outside – we had to create that illusion from raw footage that looks basically like nature photography. If you look at a gorilla, but you take the background out of it, then the gorilla is looking at you and it changes the whole relationship. The idea is that we have not seen ourselves until we’ve been seen through the eyes of another animal. The only images we have of gorillas in cinema in general are violent monsters – Mighty Joe Young, King Kong – but we’re the real King Kong, we’re the vicious gorillas.”

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