• Flash Competition

PODESTA ISLAND

Stéphanie Roland

“Absence is terrifying, and sometimes we need to fill it by telling stories.” This is the prologue to Podesta Island, the phantom island off the coast of Chile. Discovered in 1879 by a certain Captain Pinocchio, the island was then removed from maps in 1935 because no-one could find any trace of it. Rather than trying to prove its reality, Stéphanie Roland (from an insular place herself) addresses the questions of the belief in its existence in the Pacific, in a film shrouded in blues and invisible presences. From history to geopolitics via mythology, the director roams across different registers and visual materials and, sowing doubt, thrusts the viewer into a terra incognita. A keen explorer, she blends images of the coasts where she filmed, taken by satellite, with detailed shots of rocks and rusty boats in an entanglement of scales and reliefs. And, when an image of the sea appears, subtly suggesting the outlines of an island, a slow tracking shot behind gradually reveals the edge of a signpost standing out in the landscape: what we thought was an island from the distance emerges as a projection of the mind with no basis in reality. Through image and sound, Roland raises the question of oblivion and disappearance in a world that’s been completely mapped. The same goes for the three characters that we later understand to be castaways taking refuge on Podesta Island after being shipwrecked. In particular, the young woman who’d like to be able to erase her memories and become several people at once – this woman who, like the island, is small and “doesn’t take up much space”. Oblivion… Leaving one’s self and starting over… While the quivering image of a raging sea seems to alert us to the limits of human excess, the final jolt is also the place where a new beginning is possible.

(Louise Martin-Papasian)

  • Flash Competition

Technical sheet

France, Belgium, Micronesia / 2020 / 23’

Original Version : English, Spanish, French.
Subtitles : English, Spanish, French.
Script : Stéphanie Roland.
Photography : Jorge Piquer Rodriguez.
Editing : Margaux Serre.
Sound : Ludivine Pelé.
Casting : Maya Lombard, Marion Joannoteguy, Fabien Magry.
Production : Natalia Trebik (Fresnoy-Studio National des arts contemporains).
Filmography : Deception Island, 2017.