Private Project

A Rent in the Veil

A Rent in the Veil is a meditation on the elasticity of time, the mystery of an unfolding cosmos, and the endurance of wonder. From the mesmerizing drift of millennia found in Herzog’s caves, to the slow-motion transformations witnessed in Viola’s video art, A Rent in the Veil references an aesthetic that is more about contemplative introspection than any particular formal trope. The absence of tracking shots and close-up portraiture is reminiscent of Benning’s Small Roads, even as the animated text and soundtrack that weave through black and white imagery evoke passages that conjure the fledgling years of cinema.

  • Andrew Beckham
  • Andrew Beckham
  • The Charles Wallace Project
  • Theophilus
    Original Score
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 9 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 22, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Andrew Beckham

Andrew Beckham is an artist and author, with books published by Princeton Architectural Press and GFT Books. A mid-career photographer with work represented in museums across the United States, Mr. Beckham's photography can be found in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum|InFocus Foundation, Portland Art Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, MacArthur Foundation, and the Fralin Art Museum at UVA, among others. A Fulbright Fellow in Jerusalem at the turn of the millennium, Mr. Beckham found his voice through a nexus of concerns that included ecumenical solidarity, ecology and cosmology. A Rent in the Veil marks his debut as a filmmaker.

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Director Statement

My work is concerned with place, from the local to the cosmological, rendering images that point from the empirical toward the ineffable as a means of better understanding our presence in the universe. Astrophysicist Carl Sagan famously said, “we are star-stuff, the ash of stellar alchemy emerged into consciousness.” A hundred years earlier, the great American poet Walt Whitman penned a similar insight when he wrote, “I believe a leaf of grass is nothing less than the journeywork of the stars.” A scientist and a poet, speaking across time about the same profoundly human concern: the assertion that we are all connected. My work follows in this tradition.

I have been a photographer for thirty years, often working in the field at a slow and measured pace. Doing so has allowed me to see not just the formal organization of elements within the frame, but the subtle and often mesmerizing movement that happens within that composition. In recent years, my desire to see the passage of time reflected in the finished artwork led me to this project.

For the film’s title, I have incorporated an archaic use of the word rent: a rip, tare, or gash across an otherwise unbroken surface. In this case, A Rent in the Veil refers to the tapestry, or veil, that was hung in the inner chamber of the Temple on the Mount, the holiest site of Judaism in ancient Jerusalem. Behind the veil was the Ark of the Covenant, the place where, it was believed, God lived. To enter that space, stepping beyond the veil, was to stand before the Creator with no filter, no protection, no barrier between you and the Divine.

My interest in the veil is metaphorical. In what ways do we, often inadvertently, witness a rent in the veil—a momentary rip in the fabric of the universe that provides us a glimpse of something larger than ourselves? These glimpses can be attributed to any number of possible phenomena. An uncanny occurrence in the natural world (while empirically plausible) presents to the witness as a seemingly impossible event. For some, that uncanny occurrence might be explained through the lens of religious belief. For others, it might get folded into an oral tradition that, given enough time, reforms as a tale that becomes a myth that becomes an archetype. My interest is less about proving or disproving this kind of occurrence than it is about honoring such experiences. Cultivating a reverence for Mystery is at the heart of my work and, I believe, at the heart of living a grateful and humane life.