Have you ever tried to describe a poem to someone? It is hard. Really, really hard. It is so difficult because poems often deal with emotion as a medium, emotion that is delivered through a re-imagining of the way we have been trained to use words. Trying to describe The Search for Emak Bakia (and also the film's namesake subject, the modernist/dadaist/surrealist Man Ray's 1926 experimental film Emak Bakia - embedded below!- whose Basque translation is "Leave Me Alone") is like trying to describe a filmic poem that splinters, spins, risks, and is made with an entirely new look at the form.
With this debut feature, director Oskar Alegria sets out on a journey to find the illusive place of Man Ray's film which was shot somewhere along the South Coast of France. But, it isn't really the name or location that is the subject of this film, it is the journey in search of the name that becomes the off-centered focus. Alegria takes the phrase "Emak Bakia," shines light on the amorphous meaning, and explores how it is the humans uttering the phrase that breath into it life, purpose, meaning, and beauty of all kinds.
There is no way to describe this film other than to say it is indescribable. And I am not saying this as a cop out. Or an attempt to lure you into a screening. I am saying this as someone who gets chills when seeing a new, luminous vision with a strong, resilient purpose. You must dream this film with a room full of strangers.
The Search for Emak Bakia plays Rooftop Films Friday