Private Project

Life After Life

Life After Life begins with a short panorama of clouds and trees into which a small flame drops, starting a fire. Projected on a backdrop of dreamlike forest is a children’s birthday party, onto which an inferno and tsunami build, eventually obliterating everything in a catastropic nuclear holocaust. The children laugh and play, unaware of the catastrophe about to consume them.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s in the shadow of the threat of nuclear war. TV shows and commercials depicted the various ways in which we would meet our collective end when the big fireball broke all hell loose. All that anxiety had drifted into the deeper background recesses of my mind until Trump was elected the 45th American president. Now the possibility of total nuclear annihilation is once again on the table. I despair that this unhinged man will destroy us all.

"The spoon which was melted scrapes against
the bowl which was melted also.
No one else is around.

Where have they gone to, brother and sister,
mother and father? Off along the shore,
perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,

their dishes piled beside the sink,
which is beside the woodstove
with its grate and sooty kettle,

every detail clear,
tin cup and rippled mirror.
The day is bright and songless,

the lake is blue, the forest watchful.
In the east a bank of cloud
rises up silently like dark bread.

I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,
I can see the flaws in the glass,
those flares where the sun hits them.

I can’t see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything

in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,

including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,

bare child’s feet on the scorched floorboards
(I can almost see)
in my burning clothes, the thin green shorts

and grubby yellow T-shirt
holding my cindery, non-existent,
radiant flesh. Incandescent."

(Margaret Atwood, Morning in the Burned House)

  • Lisa MacLean
  • Lisa MacLean
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Nuclear holocaust, Environmental, Experimental, Art House, Video Art
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 42 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 4, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Lisa MacLean

Lisa MacLean has an MFA in Studio Art and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies (Art History, English, and Sociology) from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She has exhibited her films and art work and created installations locally, nationally, and internationally for many years and has been an artist in residence at institutions in Belgium, France, Turkey, and Italy. In addition to teaching in several post-secondary institutions in Canada and producing her own work, Lisa has curated a range of exhibitions and taken part in many collaborative projects. Spanning a variety of disciplines including digital media, photography, video, and mixed media installation, her practice confronts concerns related to cultural and natural history, gender, landscape and the body, architectural space, the environment, and memory.

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