Director: Jona Gerlach
Runtime: 34 min.
Genre: Documentary, Short
Mr. Gerlach’s 14 Homicides settles down at the intersection of geography, of society, of language, of statistics, of memory, of journalism, and in my case media – or new media, I was watching the film and googling its events, which I would suggest is probably unadvisable – and suggests how history and maybe even rhetoric could be give some sort of shape. 14 Homicides feels like an alternate way of narrativizing a haunted place, and come to think of it what is the difference between a haunted and a historical place after all? Maybe the latter is a document of change, while the former has an event stamped on its very identity forever, and if we were to extend that logic, will be entering the area of difference between history and rhetoric, between memory and ideology? Mr. Gerlach presents 14 locations by way of static shots, all places with terrific immersive quality to them so much so that I would love to live in some of those and be around the others – suburban houses, superstores, apartment complexes – and the fact that haunted locations are more often than not spaces where domestic bliss has been overturned is not entirely lost.
There’s these static shots, and there’s a calm voiceover reading text (a lot of which I was able to find verbatim from different news sites) that intends to be a factual narrative of the events that occurred, all of them involving accidental cop shootings. These shots do not linger too long after the voiceover, linking the facts to the space thereby affecting their identities, and when the spaces start piling up with respect to the months of 2014, we enter the not-so-apolitical zone of statistics. Spaces where you or I could live a lovely little life almost seem to become hostage to a stream of events that feel more like an epidemic, contextualized and re-contextualized, by the time around them and the geography around them (all of them occur in Utah), and a clear enough rhetoric emerges even without the depiction or staging of an event. There are no people, just spaces and facts, and the grey areas that the initial text around the law governing a peace officer’s usage of deadly force merely alludes to is opened so wide these spaces seem to exist wholly and solely within them. Experts often refer to the disposition of any man-made structure – societies, SEZs etc. – and by the end of the year, these localities seem to assume the sort of disposition Mr. Lynch was not so subtle about in Blue Velvet. Mr. James Benning sure does come to mind, but while his landscapes are variables of time, Mr. Gerlach seems to suggest domestic places as hostages of their milieu.
Note: As I said, dear reader, if you happen to watch this film on your laptop rather than at a screening it might be advisable to refrain from seeking further context and information than is being already formulated, for it only adds to the rhetoric.