Realism(s) #32

My Tears Are Dry - Laida Lertxundi, 2009, 16mm


I was listening to different songs, and I picked that one because he talks about how he's found a new love and is never going to cry again, and it feels very positive. But then there's this contradiction at the end: If that's true, "then why am I still crying over you?" Somehow that fits the southern California landscape, the idea of utopia, a place with oranges growing everywhere. The reality is that it's a big, improvised mess, congested by traffic and inattentive to its history.

I try to bring the making of a soundtrack to the foreground and make it so that image is never more important than sound. This soul song is music that can’t exist in the background. It's pouring its heart out and it's recorded in an intimate way, so you have to listen to it. I gave the song the time to develop and take over against a black background, playing also with postponing the end of the film. When we see a black screen and hear music, we start to think about whether the film is over. Has the ending happened already? It can also make us think of intermissions or the moment before the show starts.

The texture of the field recording includes the song that I use and ambient sound. If you listen really close to "My Tears are Dry" after the image fades to black, the song is playing in the alleyway where the palm tree is and you hear someone walking to the tape player and turning it off. While you were listening to the song, the sound of the city was there too. I never have anything recorded in a studio; everything exists in the world of the things that you’re looking at. When I had a screening at Marfa, it was a quiet night and you could hear a cop car go by or trains in the distance. They didn't interfere with the film or feel external because this inclusive field recording fabric sounds like the world in general.

--Extract from Genevieve Yue's interview with Laida Lertxundi, "Walkin' in the Sand" [pdf]Film Quarterly 66.2, p.39-40. A recording of "My Tears Are Dry" can be heard here, and more info on the (beautiful) film itself here. Also: a much shorter recent interview in Frieze, and Lertxundi's contribution to This Long Century [194].

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