Wolbers brings dreamy, stream-of-consciousness films to the Michigan

BY BRAD SANDERS
Daily Arts Writer
Published February 14, 2010

Saskia Olde Wolbers takes audiences on journeys through their own psyches. The London-based filmmaker will be presenting five of her distinctive films as part of the Penny W. Stamps lecture series on Thursday at 5:10 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

"Now That Part of Me Has Become Fiction"


Thursday at 5:10 p.m.
Michigan Theater

There's nothing typical about Wolbers's films — there are no physical actors, as the audience is transported into the eyes of the narrators who wander through unfamiliar and dreamlike worlds and express their thoughts through voice-over.

The lecture is titled “Now That Part Of Me Has Become Fiction” because her films are meant to have the effect of the "traveling imagination," which is how Wolbers describes the common experience of people when they read fiction. The films also use narrators who attempt to construct their own realities, like a man who lies to his family for several years, saying that he's a doctor.

“The ideas for my films come from a variety of sources, usually a situation that is described by a newspaper that doesn’t have much insight into the real story, so you have to imagine it,” Wolbers explained. “I’m very led by chance, and that’s what I come across.”

Wolbers’s complex storylines are told in intricately constructed settings that represent anything but reality.

“Apart from the film I made in 2007, which is set in West Africa, every film is in an aquarium, with liquid dripping from the sets,” Wolbers said. “The sets are miniature and are usually made from a combination of metal and plastic.”

Her filmmaking style is unconventional as well, as she usually lets the results of the filming process dictate the overall story.

"As I work very organically, the complete text is not finished until I am done with all of the filming,” Wolbers said. “It is sometimes very intuitive, but at other times very directional.”

Wolbers will be showing “Kilowatt Dynasty,” “Placebo,” “Interloper,” “Trailer” and “Deadline,” as well as scenes from a new film.

The audience can expect more than just viewing Wolbers’s groundbreaking films. They will also hear what goes on behind the scenes.

“I talk about the research that’s involved, a little bit about how I make the films, the process, references … as well as other things that influence me,” Wolbers explained. “The lecture will start with a still image usually referring to the research, and each transition between films will be accompanied by a different still image.”

Wolbers is very passionate about her work and hopes to entertain as well as enlighten the viewers of her films.

“I think that the perfect audience walks in on a rainy afternoon and finds this story that’s quite intimate in a way,” Wolbers said. “It has sort of a photo-documentary style, even though the visuals are more akin to fiction than to filmmaking, because you’re not really seeing what you’re hearing. I guess there’s an element of mystification — I try to create a different sort of space for the audience members.”