The Lost Days

France/UK/US, 1999
47 min. Digibeta PAL, Colour, Stereo

Produced, Conceived, Written, Edited by Laura Waddington
Funded by The Arts Council of England with the co-operation of CICV Pierre Schaeffer, France, Phonos Institute, Barcelona
Camera Martin Brockhoven Nicholas Chin, Lara Favaretto, Margarete Fuchs, Nathalie and Julie Gilles, Tim Hall and Natasha Durlacher, Lorien Holland, Stanislas Kalimerov, Mathilde Kohl, Lisette and Maria Mok,  Melanie Oliver and Simon Fisher Turner, Delphine Quentin, Limor Raviv, Yukata Sato, Andrey Sebrant, Oxana Kovaleskaya, Anouschka Semenova
Music Simon Fisher Turner
Voices Marusha Gagro, Chantal Akerman

Premiere

The 29th International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2000

Synopsis

In 1996, I wrote a story about a woman, travelling around the world, sending back video letters to a friend in New York. That year, I contacted 15 people in different cities (Marrakech, Jaffa, Lisbon, Milan, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei…) I asked them to videotape their countries, as if they were her. Out of the tapes they sent me, I made The Lost Days

Laura Waddington 1999

Director’s Statement

I wanted to make a film about a girl who travelled around the world, filming the things she saw. In my mind, this girl didn’t really belong anywhere and her travels, instead of bringing her closer to who she was would push her further away. She reminded me of a sentence I had once read, “I miss the world…I feel homesick for each and every country.”

At the time I began to think about this girl, I was living illegally in the States and could not travel. Everyday I was thinking of her and how much I wanted to tell her story. Gradually, I came up with the idea of having other people shoot my film for me.

I started to search for people who I believed could fit into my character’s mind. I wanted them to really live her journey, filming their cities through her eyes and wandering the streets as if they were her. Through the internet, friends and organisations, I came up with a list of people in fifteen countries, who I thought sounded interesting.

I began to write to them about my character. I asked them to borrow a Hi8 camera and to film the things I thought she would be drawn to. For each country, I consulted maps, books, stories and imagined the way she would pass through there. Sometimes I would send lists and specific instructions but most of all I would just talk about a feeling.

Every few weeks, a tape would arrive from someone I had contacted. The year passed like that and every time I got a new tape my conception of the girl would be changed.

At the end of the year, I started to make the story. I spent weeks filming images off screens, isolating, slowing down, colouring. Slowly the journey started to emerge and one day the story was completely there. There was a beginning in Jaffa and an end in Taipei, lots of driving and a man waiting somewhere in New York. In each of the tapes people sent there were endless possibilities. The video is just one version of what existed there.

Laura Waddington 1999

Looking back on the making of “The Lost Days”

The footage, which I received, was extremely diverse. Some people had filmed their towns for weeks, living inside my protagonist’s mind, others had recorded their daily routines, homes, family and friends. They included young photographers and filmmakers but also people, who were using a video camera for the very first time. The challenge was to transform such a wide variety of images into the rhythm of one person’s journey, and eyes.

related passage in “Scattered Truth”


Press Quotes

“One of those rare and dedicated contemporary travellers whose filmmaking reveals high ethical and aesthetic principles of the kind set down by Chris Marker… This study of melancholy, alienation, otherness and difference would fit together well in a double bill with Marker’s Sunless (1983).”
Jurij Meden, KINOPLUS, Slovenia

“A strange feeling of melancholy haunts Laura Waddington’s The Lost Days. A young woman is on a journey. Her first stops are Marrakech, Lisbon and Paris. But the cities are just a backdrop for her imagination. Hazy streets, fleeting images from another world. A meditation on what we are and where we come from. A portrait of being on the road and being lost in time”
Andreas Burkhardt, TIP MAGAZINE, Berlin

“The beauty of the images in Waddington’s films, combined with Turner’s hypnotic music scores, fascinate. But it is a beauty arising only from a deep intellectual and emotional involvement with the material filmed… The Lost Days… shows she is not only interested in criticising society, but essentially in thought and perception.”
Olivier Rahayel FILM-DIENST, Germany 2005

“…aside from a retrospective appropriation — the calling into question of the concept of author — it is once again a way of seeing, of seeing with and through the eyes of other people. To join and mix together multiple points of view alien to one another into a single gaze — a gaze that stretches on a geographical scale towards the transversal. To make of the eye an organ, dedicated to voyage, to perpetual exile, one that ignores frontiers and encircles the world in an endless trajectory”
read article
Bouchra Khalili, THE 51st OBERHAUSEN SHORT FILM FESTIVAL CATALOGUE

“A story told with many cameras; a girl, we never see, but whose point of view has been recorded by 15 camera people, recruited by the English filmmaker Laura Waddington, to film their cities as stages on a journey of a fictive character. Through these fifteen perspectives, The Lost Days transports us from Jaffa to Taipei, passing through Bosnia, Hong Kong, Moscow and other equally evocative cities. With each new Hi-8 cassette she received during the year she was making the project, Laura would modify her road story about this wandering girl, lost in time, meditating on the things she believes to be disappearing. Refilmed on television screens, slowed down, re-coloured, saturated, these synthesised images plunge us into a forty-minute journey, which is fabulously sensual, melancholic, poetic.”
TOURNAGES WEBZINE, Paris

“Waddington’s is undoubtedly a cinema of migration, at first conceived as the recounting of an existential condition (the author lived without papers for many years in New York) and then as a crossing, a passage towards other places, other confines. The choice to use video corresponds with the need to achieve complete stylistic and production freedom, far from the model of cinema in the strict sense, to such an extent that the first films do not contain scenes shot directly by her but only a patient work of montage. Her wandering gaze puts at the center of the lens, “corps déplaces”, in transit, on the edges of the world, often barely recognisable with the borders of the frame”.
Stefania Rimini, IMMAGINAZIONI: RISCRITTURE E IBRIDAZIONI FRA TEATRO E CINEMA. publ. Bonanno Editore, Roma


Screenings

The 29th International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2000
The New York Video Festival 2000, Film Society of Lincoln Center
The 29th Montreal International Festival of New Cinema & New Media, Canada, 2000
The 18th World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2000
Transmediale International Media Arts Festival 2000, Berlin, Germany
ISEA 2000, 10th International Symposium on Electronic Art, Paris, France
Cinematexas 2000, Texas, USA
Videomedeja 5, Novi Sad, Serbia, 2000
The 10th Filmer a tout prix, Bruxelles, Belgium, 2002
“In Person: Laura Waddington” Austrian Film Museum, Vienna, organised by Six Pack Film, Vienna, 2002
The 41st Pesaro International Film Festival, 2005
The 51st Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, 2005


Collection

The National Film and Television Archive, England
Bibliothèque Universitaire de Rennes, France
Bibliothèque Ecole des Beaux Arts, Avignon, France
Bibliothèque Ecole des Beaux Arts, Toulouse, France
Bibliothèque de Strasbourg, France
Bibliothèque de Luxembourg
Bibliothèque d’Evry, France
Mediathèque de Cavaillon, France


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