Direction & Camera: Millie Chen
Composer: Juliet Palmer
Sound Engineer & Producer: Jean Martin
Vocalists: Maryem Tollar, Jani Lauzon, Christine Duncan, Andrea Kuzmich
Funders: Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and Charles Street Video

TOUR is a video installation by Millie Chen featuring an original soundtrack by composer Juliet Palmer. Created in collaboration with producer Jean Martin, the work is at Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery until May 18, 2014. A quiet witness to four sites of genocide (Rwanda, Cambodia, Wounded Knee and Treblinka), the camera travels slowly through vegetation covering the arguably “healed” sites, while four women’s voices form a counterpoint of lullaby and breath. TOUR challenges us with the question: How can we sustain the memory of that which has become invisible?

Researching songs from each site was done “off-location”, mining the collective digital memory. The four songs were chosen for their emotional resonance and their musical fit within the shared sonic space of the soundtrack. The music was created through a process of learning and forgetting, allowing each song to drift and alter. Recording the singers outdoors allowed us to capture subtle vocal shifts as each performer negotiated unfamiliar terrain — the landscape embellishing the song, breath catching and flowing. As each singer walked and sang, my mind drifted to the image of Millie walking over the ground of those four distant sites. Memory beneath our feet.

Warsaw, January 2011

Credits: co-direction (with Miriam Harris) and score (with Jean Martin)
Funder: Creative New Zealand
Screenings: Catskill Mountains Film Festival, New York (Best Animation Award); New Media Film Festival, Los Angeles (Best in the New Media category); Brooklyn Film Festival, New York (Spirit Award); Melbourne International Animation Festival; Dada Saheb Phalke International Film Festival, New Delhi (Special Mention); Animator Festival, Poznan, Poland; New York Independent Film Festival.

This nine and half minute long experimental film is based on a journey artist/animator Miriam Harris made to her war survivor mother’s birthplace of Warsaw, Poland in January 2011. The film shifts between the time and space of her recent journey to Warsaw from Auckland, and the years when her mother enjoyed living in the city with her family, before the trauma and upheaval of WWII. Through an original soundtrack, drawing, collage, and painted and moving image, this poignant film brings to life the experience of a Jewish daughter returning to a place built in her imagination, through stories and recounted memory, and through the new experience of being in Warsaw, long after her mother had fled to make a new life for herself in Auckland.

‘Warsaw, January 2011’ was co-directed by animator/artist Miriam Harris and composer Juliet Palmer, and created in collaboration with Kate Barton and Jean Martin. Live footage filmed in both Warsaw and Auckland co-exists with drawing, collage, old photographs, and puppets, whilst drawing on a rich East European tradition of modernist graphics and animation. The approach to sound is similarly textured, incorporating recordings made on location, twenty-first century experimental compositions, the human voice, pre-war poetry by the Polish Jewish writer Julian Tuwim, and excerpts from the nineteenth century work of Warsaw composer Frédéric Chopin. 

Soaring, Roaring, Diving

animated short [6:08] 2008

Credits: co-direction (with Miriam Harris) and score (with Jean Martin)
Funder: Creative New Zealand
Screenings: Marfa International Film Festival, Artsfest Film Festival, Los Angeles SSG Summer Shorts Film Festival (USA); In the Palace International Film Festival, Bulgaria; XII Brooklyn International Film Festival, NY; Fest Anca Animation Festival, Slovakia; New Zealand International Film Festival; Kansk International Film Festival, Siberia; Antimatter Film Festival, Vancouver; St John’s Women’s International Film Festival, Newfoundland; Tehran International Short Film Festival; Cambofest International Independent Film Festival, Cambodia; Byron Bay International Film Festival, Australia; Mediawave Film Festival, Hungary

Award: Best Experimental Film, Brooklyn International Film Festival (2009)


experimental dance short [6:00] 2008

Funder: Bravo!
Credits: composer (with Jean Martin) and performer, director Chelsea McMullen, choreographer Yvonne Ng, cinematographer Maya Bankovic
Screenings: Toronto International Short Film Festival, Cinedans (Amsterdam), Dance Camera West (Los Angeles), Loikka Dance Film Festival (Finland) to the International Dance and Electronic Media Festival (Mexico City)

Awards: Best Experimental Short and Kodak Award for Best Cinematography at Toronto International Short Film Festival (2010)