Outfest’s Senior Programmer, Alonso Duralde interviews filmmaker Kadet. Find out what has inspired her work over the years. Come to the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project screening Sexperimental (1992-2001) this Saturday, Dec 7 at 7:30 PM at the Billy Wilder Theater. Filmmakers Kadet and Texas will be at the screening in-person.
What initially inspired you to make these films?
I was inspired by a lineage of feminist filmmakers and the early ‘90s culture of gender investigation, emerging queer erotica, play parties, techno, music videos and the accessibility of technology. Self-expression was at the core; I wanted to reveal an alternative way of viewing women’s sexuality and queer culture. The first time I saw lesbian erotica directed by women I immediately appreciated how different it was from straight male depictions of lesbian sexuality, but it didn’t resonate with my aesthetic leanings nor did it represent my particular spin on what I was experiencing in the queer community. Capturing my experience of the incredibly raw, exploratory and inventive Bay Area scene at that time is how I came to shoot films that include all-star studded casts! Also, I wanted to see art porn with a pulsing, energized and fetishistic sense of humor, so that’s what I set out to make.
What are some of the things you learned by the end of the process that you didn’t know when you started?
My first lesson was learned the hard way: before editing an entire Super 8 film by way of hand splicing, learn about frames per second! Overall, since the films in this collection marked the beginning of my filmmaking career, I learned about the power of community, representation and following intuition. I also began to understand timing, flow, narrative arcs, image juxtaposition, jump-cuts, experimentation and media manipulation. Most importantly, I learned that if you premiere your film at Frameline or Outfest you’re pretty much set with procuring screenings in the rest of the world!
There have been ideological differences over the years in the feminist movement over the subject of pornography and depictions of female sexuality. Did you encounter women who had problems with or were challenged by your work?
I have never caught wind of anyone having issues with my work based on differing feminist ideologies. That being said, I imagine it’s not for all women. There is one Super 8 film I co-directed in 1997 with Jenni Olson, titled Blow-Up, which I refuse to screen again due to my own feminist convictions that have changed since the date of release. The only opposition I have experienced from someone else was after a screening of Fuck Film, which involves a piercing scene that culminates in a sort of crown of thorns around a subject’s forehead. As the credits rolled I overheard a woman say, “I thought I had seen it all.” I took this as a high compliment until she then proceeded to accuse me of sensationalism. I simply explained that the scene was a representation of someone’s authentic experience that I found incredibly engaging in its intensity.
It was never my goal to shock others with challenging images, nor was it to capture a comprehensive documentation of female sexuality. These erotic works were personal and felt as worthy as any other female voice, and thanks to the diverse LGBT film festival community I generally felt supported and celebrated.
How does your work as a musician color your filmmaking? And vice versa?
Sound and picture are given equal consideration in my current video works both aesthetically and in the ways they physically interact with our bodies and stimulate neurological responses. A thorough exploration of frequencies is executed to captivate viewers’ visual and auditory senses and create an intimate world within each piece. I use pure tonal frequencies to represent my subject’s internal dialogue through various stages of consciousness as patterns of visual information entwine with correlating sounds. I also expose the use of technology by employing fragmented, jump-cut editing down to single frames, and amplifying evidence of sonic detritus such as digital clicks, pops and static. Although sound is ultimately an integral part of the meaning and impact of my video works, it’s my goal to create images that can stand on their own. I assemble my videos without sound and instead rely on the rhythm and flow of the images to dictate my editing choices.
On the other hand, when creating my early films and videos featured in Sexperimental, the picture editing process was typically timed to a pre-selected music track; the music served as the driving force in determining how the images were woven and spliced together. It was an especially exciting time in the mid 90’s for the evolution of electronic music, and my eager hands would grab hold of my DJ friends’ mix tapes to find the most compelling tracks to edit to. A side note on this topic – the track Sophie Constantinou and I chose for our film Impact Zone was initially by some underground, unknown band – thus safe – that later emerged into fame as The Chemical Brothers. Needless to say, when Wolfe video looked into distributing it on one of their compilation releases we were faced with music rights issues and weren’t included.
Since this program is part of a series hosted by the Outfest/UCLA Legacy Project, could you talk a little about the importance of preservation and archiving to your own work and to film in general?
Studying guitar in high school and forming surf punk bands is where I began as an artist, but it was the exposure to representative and historical films that really launched my foray into the art world with a personal statement. It is an honor to screen and distribute my early films to new audiences and be part of this historical material. As the philosopher Jacques Derrida points out in his influential book Archive Fever, “There is no political power without control of the archive, if not of memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation.” The archive of subcultures is located at the bottom of the hierarchy. I think it is imperative for members of marginalized groups to document their past and current activities and stories, which is part of why I am compelled to work as an educator and teach diverse populations to take media into their own hands. Properly preserving these works as we unfold into this digital age where media resides in zeros and ones is the next vital step.