Director Charlie Shackleton sifted through a vast collection of films from around the world, from the early years of the medium to assemble the ethereal cinematic essay that is The Afterlight. Each person you see on screen lives on through the performances they left behind as if their fragile existence is preserved in the echoes of cultural memory. Amongst the archive certain motifs appear – environments, sensations and rituals repeat to form a meditation on the language of cinema and what it means to be human and decaying.
Shackleton says “The second I settled on that central constraint—that the film would feature only those who are no longer alive, who live on in the amber of cultural memory—my whole understanding of film archiving was transformed. Suddenly, decisions about what to preserve and what to make available were about more than just cinema; they were quite literally life and death. So the process of making the film certainly heightened my understanding of the politics of archiving, and the ethics of my own editorial choices.”
The essence of the actors seems to exist in the cinematic afterlife constructed by Shackleton and as the print gradually disintegrates, they live on in the fading memories of anyone who watches. In the digital era of infinite streaming possibilities, heightened by the recent threat to communal cinema-going due to the pandemic, the sentimental whir of the projector reels in The Afterlight feels all the more poignant.
A hauntingly beautiful window into the past and truly unique cinematic experience that stirs the subconscious, The Afterlight is a profound yet playful exploration of loss, memory and decay. We’re delighted to welcome director Charlie Shacklton for an unmissable live Q&A screening of his remarkable work.