Last Breath of Snow

What happens in a deer’s mind when it encounters a human? The film is an immersive imaginative journey into the perception of the deer as well as the ecosystem it is part of.

  • Maria Ångerman
    Director
  • Maria Ångerman
    Writer
  • Maria Ångerman
    Producer
  • Sergio Gonzalez Cuervo
    Sound designer
  • Maria Ångerman
    Editor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Other
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    Finland
  • Country of Filming:
    Finland
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, double 8, 8 mm
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Distribution Information
  • AV-arkki
    Distributor
    Country: Finland
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Maria Ångerman

Maria Ångerman is a filmmaker and visual artist based in Finland. She is known for her immersive moving images where she examines the human relationship with the natural world and the concept of nature. Her work oscillates in a delicate area between documentary fact and poetic fiction. In 2014 she received her master's degree from the practice-based research program in film from the Netherlands Film Academy. Her work has been extensively screened and shown in exhibitions all over Europe as well as in Brazil and Senegal.

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Director Statement

I am childishly fascinated by animals and the natural world. I’m also worried about the climate crisis. On the verge of climate anxiety I found some comfort in the texts of the philosopher Donna Haraway, who suggests that we need to stay with the trouble we’ve caused. That only with intense commitment, play and unexpected collaboration between humans and other-than-humans is a multi-species flourishing possible.

This short film started with my curiosity for the deer that has become quite a nuisance to gardeners and traffic in the south of Finland. However, in the encounter I was curious to establish some kind of communication, and see the deer as the sensitive fellow being in the forest as it is, wondering how it might experience the encounter with a human. As a non-endemic species, one that was intentionally brought to the country, the deer is more adaptable to climate changes than many other four legged being. As such it can also be considered a liminal being, a stranger that freely moves between territories, thus remains exceptionally sensitive. How much does it sense the “noise”, the changes in the climate and the resulting changes in the environment – and can it connect it to the humans?

Encounter and interaction is a recurring topic in my work, it’s often the starting point for a piece, and in this case it turned into the film itself. However subtle, as the changing climate was the backdrop for the film, I decided to keep it in the title.

The camera defines presence, becomes the gaze of a being, the body of another. This time I was quite caught by the deer showing up as soon as it did, there was no time to think about cinematography, but simply do my best to hold the long lens as steady as possible. In other shots I performed what I call “a visuality of presence”, using a slowly travelling manual focus to imitate touch – as if the gaze through the lens is touching the surfaces – rather coexisting with the other than observing it.

The analogue footage was the result of my first encounter with a Bolex double 8, whose trigger repeatedly got stuck while experimenting with 64 and 48 frames per second, in an intention to bend time and to create a haptic image. The camera was used as in drawing or painting, repeatedly brushing the surfaces back and forth. As if touching on a distance.

Together with Sergio Gonzalez Cuervo we created the sound design, to a large degree based on experiments from a sound effect workshop experimenting with voice. As it is an encounter between a deer and a human, the spectator, I wanted to bring in a human aspect as well. Thus the breath becomes the common nominator as the deer is seen panting visibly, just as the snow is seen taking deep breaths. One can also see it all as the breath of snow itself, and the human relation to the disappearing of the snow by giving it a human voice. This is an important aspect of my work, to allow for multiple interpretations.