Echo The Now

Synopsis:
A desolate sand plain. An old woman in a rocking chair. She is dressed in a long skirt and a high necked blouse, completely covered in a thick layer of grey-white clay. Blue eyes in a face also covered with dried clay.
She closes her eyes – and pulls us into her world.

An endless volume of potatoes, freshly harvested. The woman wears an old overall, with saliva she polishes the potatoes and dirties her face with the earth on her hands.
In the next scene she is a vagabond, wrapped in an old woollen blanket, the face hidden behind a mask. She carries bags full of belongings. Books. Films without a reel. Autumn leaves. A suitcase full of dust.
Even more belongings, now neatly organised on a board on her back. The woman wanders through the dune landscape, her clothes and her hands just as black as her face. Weighed down by her load. A heavy stocking cap drags on the ground. She breathes through a small mouth-organ. Close to her body she carries a doll, a spitting image of herself. Then she stands up straight, tilts the cap and is covered in a thick layer of ashes.
Plates, cups and dishes are rapidly smashed in a bare white space. A window as a painting, the outer world as a still life. Crockery in high stacks around her, she beats everything until broken. Her foot bleeds. Red in white. The woman collects the shards in a white cotton bag with a red silk lining. She drags it out of view.
A tabletop on wooden trestles, a chair, rolls of white paper. A person, entirely dressed in white, head covered by a cap, writes on one roll after another, with ceaseless energy. The walls of the empty space get covered with torn newspaper fragments.
Two blue eyes in a black face. The woman is busy, in a messy barn full of material and belongings, covered in a thick layer of dust. She is stretching wire in the space, from nail to nail she develops a web. She then blows chips of gold leaf into the space. They magically illuminate in the dark.

Amidst all of these images there is a young girl. Pensive. Dressed in red. She can dance as a Dervish. The woman on the sand plain also returns. In the course of the film she rids herself of the hardened layer of clay walks towards the horizon.
Woman and girl, mirrored visions of past and future.

The rocking chair creaks, the mouth-organ breathes, the pen scratches, dishes fall apart. Sounds give rhythm to the images. Song is heard and grows in volume. The woman sings. Her face uncovered and clean. In a trance she moves to the sound, her voice finds a climax between despair and hope – and breaks. She opens her eyes. We are in the NOW. Echo the Now.

*The woman, the protagonist, is Anet van de Elzen, visual artist. The images and sound from her performances are the starting point for this film.

  • Anet van de Elzen
    Director
  • Anet van de Elzen
    Writer
  • SNG FILM, Digna Sinke
    Producer
    Kala Azar, En amont du Fleuve, Above us all
  • Lena Maria Holleman, Anet van de Elzen
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Experimental
  • Genres:
    no dialogues
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 2 minutes 53 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 15, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    95,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
    Netherlands
  • Country of Filming:
    Netherlands
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • LAB 111 Amsterdam
    Amsterdam
    Netherlands
    May 15, 2017
    LAB 111
  • DITS Gallery - 3 nov untill 17 Januari 2018 continuous screening
    Amsterdam
    Netherlands
    November 3, 2017
    World Premiere
  • Kunstenlab Deventer
    Deventer
    Netherlands
    June 22, 2018
    continous screening in an installation
  • FutureFemmeFest
    Leeds
    United Kingdom
  • Can Obert, Madremanya, Girona, Spain
    Madremanya
    Spain
    February 28, 2020
Director Biography - Anet van de Elzen

Anet van de Elzen is a visual artist, creating performances, photographs and sculptures. Her performances, often taking place abroad for small audiences, are the inspiration for the film ECHO THE NOW, in order to be able to communicate the images of her work and catch them on a more permanent medium than performance is.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

ECHO THE NOW

Director’s statement

Echo the Now is a film holding ephemeral images of my performances of the last 20 years. Although not created to tell a literal story, the interwoven images now do create an imaginary poem, a story which is more physical than it is rational. A visual history taking its’ own time, in a different reality, where words are of no importance. Where image and sound make us silent.

The idea to make a film inspired by my performances came from the wish to communicate these ephemeral works to a larger audience. I make my performances on very different locations all over the world; however mostly for intimate audiences, and works are only performed once. After a performance the work is gone, evaporated, it can only be experienced in the NOW. It will survive in stories told or in photographs taken. However, these registrations for me never capture the essence of the work itself.

In 2012 after making a performance Ashes in La Reina Sofia in Madrid, travelling back to Amsterdam I thought that it was so little what I took back. Maybe three photographs which could communicate part of the work and my experience. I realized that performance is only a bearer for my images and I could try and investigate to find a bearer more independent of the moment. Not to gain a registration but as an actual translation to a different medium, so I could reach a larger audience and still come close to the experience of the original performance.

With a small film crew, I started to experiment. For my pilot Before and After the Now I took ten performances out of their original location, their time and their audience, to perform them again, in front of the film camera on a different, chosen location.
The results of this experiment were stunning.

All of a sudden I could demonstrate a performance from a distance or very close, materials of costumes and masks became tangible, movement could be captured and a voice could be heard. Physicality of a performance could be even enlarged so the audience could experience the work in all its’ aspects. The desire rose to make a feature film.

I wrote the scenario, guided by my performances. It is my story. A woman looks back at her life. Where does she come from? Where does she go? During the film she liberates herself from everything in life that has been or still is redundant.
This story is a universal story, about core rather than abundance.
Life goes past before one realizes, youth is only there to look back at, innocence of a child unfortunately cannot be hold, we are born in a situation and body which we cannot escape from, if only we could hold on to only the NOW. But we can’t. We can only echo it.

Anet van de Elzen, 14 February 2017