Experiencing Interruptions?

Soap is an Illusion (Dirt: Part One)

Soap is an Illusion plunges the viewer into the volatility of our conflicting attractions to dirt and cleanliness. A collage of poetic imagery, music, and abstracted, incantatory language, the film follows two men in an excavation of our cultural soil. Their dialog gives rise to unexpected landscapes, populated by revengeful toasters, soap bubbles which fly on magic carpets, and other surprises. A postmodern video opera, Soap bathes the viewer in music and visual spectacle.

  • David Finkelstein
  • David Finkelstein
  • Ian W. Hill
  • David Finkelstein
    Key Cast
  • Ian W. Hill
    Key Cast
  • David Finkelstein
    Music composed by
  • David Finkelstein
    Animation and visual design
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Fest Anča
    June 29, 2022
  • Instants Vidéo
    November 9, 2022
  • CineToro
    Torre Valle de Cuaca
    November 24, 2022
    Colombian premiere
    Best International Film
  • Millennium Film Workshop
    New York City
    United States
    January 20, 2023
  • Moviate
    Harrisburg, PA
    United States
    May 20, 2023
  • Little Scuzzy Film Festival
    Carbondale, IL
    United States
    November 4, 2023
  • Videobardo
    Buenos Aires
    December 2, 2023
  • West Sound Film Festival
    Bremerton, WA
    United States
    August 2, 2024
Director Biography - David Finkelstein

DAVID FINKELSTEIN received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2022. He recently presented his second feature film at Anthology Film Archives in New York. His first feature film toured Bilbao, Portland, San Francisco, Asheville, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Harrisburg, London, Porto, and Austin. He was an Invited Artist at the Traverse Vidéo Festival in Toulouse, France in 2013. His video work has been featured in one man shows at Artist Television Access (San Francisco), CRS (New York), Robert Beck Memorial Cinema (New York), Echo Park Film Center and LA Filmforum (Los Angeles), Medicine Show (New York), MSU Moorhead, and with Ross Wilbanks at Light Factory and Pura Vida in North Carolina. In France, his work has screened at Videoformes, Traverse Vidéo, Instants Vidéo, Oodaq, Marseille Underground, Bandits Mage, and Les Inattendus. His work has been screened in the Brainwash Film Festival, Leeds International Festival (UK), Cinesonika (Canada), Experiments in Cinema, Denver Underground Festival, Brick Theater, 1078 Gallery, Arthouse Festival, Outer Film Fest, Free Form Film Festival, Ybor Festival, Rubric Video, WRO (Poland) Festival, New Vision Cinema, Athens (Ohio) Film Fest, Dahlonega Film Festival, VideoBardo, Exground, Valleyfest, Big MiniDV Festival, Park City Film Music Festival, the Puget Sound Cinema Society, the Downstream Film Festival, the Silver Lake Festival, EXP2, New Filmmakers, Bearded Child Festival, X-Fest, SinCiné, and Gemini CollisionWorks. Altogether, his video works have won 18 awards and 7 Honorable Mentions, including the Audience Favorite Award from the Berkeley Video and Film Festival for "Recording Device" and "Best of Festival: Experimental" from the Brooklyn Arts Council Film Festival for "Earth and Moon in Love." He has been commissioned three times to create videos for the Outmusic Awards, and these videos were subsequently shown on the PrideVision cable network and the PBS series "Under the Pink Carpet." His work has been funded by The Fund for Creative Communities, The Field, Movement Research, Meet the Composer, The Brooklyn Arts Exchange, BACA, and other sources.

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Director Statement

My video work is constructed in layers.

To begin a new piece, I first videotape a completely improvised text, typically using two actors. I have been developing my technique of improvising text since 1993. I am interested in improvisation as a way of generating language directly from an actor's intuitive discovery of what each performance is about, as it unfolds spontaneously. A subtle and intimately physical experience between two people is thus made into audible language.

For the next layer, I listen repeatedly to the text, clarifying for myself the emotional undercurrents and musical flow which formed the underlying structure of the original spontaneous performance. During this phase, I compose a musical score for the video, which clarifies this flow for the listener.

In the final phase, I listen to the text even more (now enhanced with a musical score), and gradually develop many layers of meticulously crafted digital imagery, to further clarify the emotional and musical threads which run through the improvisation. The carefully constructed nature of the images works as a counter-dynamic against the spontaneous, liquid flow of the original improvised material. Like a dream, an improvisation seems on the surface to be full of volatile, unpredictable changes, but it is actually a completely unified form of composition, in which often every line of text can be seen to be simply a new way of looking at a single, unified idea. The images and music thus help the viewer to perceive the tremendous thematic and emotional unity which underlies the seeming changeableness of the improvisation.

The full process of creating the video in three layers (text, music, images) typically takes from six to ten months.