International Selection

The Two Sights

An Da Shealladh

Joshua Bonnetta

2020United KingdomCanada89 minColour

The Outer Hebrides was long thought of as a place of seers who were known to have the gift of second sight; an ability to foretell future events. An exploration of the relationship between place narrative and environment and the reciprocal influences they exert upon one another.

In the past, the gift of receiving visual or aural signs from the future was handed down from generation to generation on the Outer Hebrides islands off the Scottish coast. Between 2017 and 2019, Canadian artist Joshua Bonnetta set about exploring their landscapes and collecting the oral history of this visionary gift. As in his previous documentary feature, « El Mar La Mar » (Cinéma du Réel 2017), co-directed with J.P. Sniadecki in the Sonoran desert, this work of ethnographic collection creates a sensorial world populated by ghosts: stories of engulfed villages, beached whales, drowned horses, Gaelic songs, and voices carrying messages of personal or community events. A project stamped with historical materialism yet no less deeply formalist, if we recall that P. Adams famously described the North American avant-garde as visionary; and that Bonnetta is no less of a filmmaker than an acoustician. As the two sights in the title are those of a film in which image and sound each follow their own course while also being portents that interact in a game of anticipation, of echoes and unison. At times on alert, at times in torpor, the spectator is enveloped in a world as vivid as it is unreal; “a thin place” in the words of a woman whose beautiful consolatory singing stirs the sea into soft ripples, at the extremely thin frontier between sky and sea, between foreknowledge and memory.

Antoine Thirion

PRINT SOURCE: Joshua Bonnetta,

Joshua Bonnetta

Joshua Bonnetta (b. Canada 1979) is an artist and filmmaker working with sound and moving image across installation, performance, and cinema exhibition. His film works are sound forward ; approaching cinematic sound design as an extension of Musique concrete, and cinematography as its visual notation. His films have been shown at various festivals, museums, and galleries internationally. He is an Associate Professor in the department of Cinema, Photography, & Media Art at Ithaca College (Upstate New York). His sound works are published by Shelter Press and Canti Magnetici.

  • PRODUCTION : Joshua Bonnetta
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