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Trailer Watch: Lucy Kerr’s Family Portrait

Ahead of its world premiere next month at the Locarno Film Festival, a trailer arrives today for Lucy Kerr’s feature debut Family Portrait. Kerr appeared on our annual 25 New Faces of Film list last year, in part due to the strength of this film.

An official synopsis provided by sales company Lights On reads:

Set at the dawn of COVID, Family Portrait follows a sprawling family on a morning when they have planned a group picture. After the mother disappears and one of the daughters becomes increasingly anxious to find her and take the picture, the rest of the family appears to resist any attempt to gather. Initially presenting itself as a realistic portrayal of a family on an idle but hectic summer day, the film progressively descends into a realm where time and space lose their grip, transforming the family portrait into a solemn and enigmatic ritual of transition.​

In a Director’s Statement on the Lights On site, Kerr adds an intriguing note:

Family photographs, according to Roland Barthes, are a desperate means to freeze time and immortalize the family. However, what the family doesn’t realize yet is that, as they smile and pose for the picture, they have already died

Vadim Rizov’s 25 New Faces profile of Kerr touches upon how the writer-director, who originally comes from a dance background, decided to artistically venture into filmmaking:

…She fell in love with experimental film after becoming a regular attendee at Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry. Along with the work of Leslie Thornton, she cites a viewing at BAM of Eric Baudelaire’s essay film The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without Images as formative. “The dance world is still so focused on virtuosity and athleticism,” Kerr says. “Film and art allowed me to explore more research-based and conceptual projects like I saw in Baudelaire’s film.” Later, Claire Denis’s Beau Travail helped her discover that “performance, and the body, can have this narrative power and serve this role within a narrative film.”

Family Portrait will have its world premiere at Locarno on August 4. Watch the trailer above.

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