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


The 29th International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2000


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

On the making of “The Lost Days”

I loved cinema. Beamed into the communal space of a dark room, the flicker of celluloid, gave us the courage to travel deep into ideas and our unconsciousness. As I zoomed into the footage, isolating and re-framing it on different monitors, I became haunted by a time when cinema would be un-housed, its images broken up and projected onto screens so small and different, we couldn’t yet imagine them. Once we were alone, isolated in our viewing experiences, would we ever confront what it is to be human in such a profound way again or live distracted and restless?

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 tram appears to float and silently sway, as it makes its way through the narrow streets of Lisbon’s old town. The camera, as it looks outside, captures fleeting impressions: rushing pedestrians, a street sweeper, old men leaning against the entrance of houses. “Sometimes,” says the woman of the voice over, “ when I watch the people, a feeling of sadness invades me and I think of all the other lives I could have had”
Maya Mckechneay FALTER, Vienna

“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.”

“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 that she is not only interested in criticising society, but essentially in thought and perception.”
Olivier Rahayel FILM-DIENST, Germany

“It is what allows her to make The Lost Days without having filmed a single shot. Here, the aim was to transform images filmed by other people in Europe, Asia and the Arab world into her own images. But 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

“Laura’s and Stephen’s films have this certain heartwarming quality, in their presence you feel comfortable, arrived, like you’re at home. It feels like that home that can be anywhere. Especially in oneself. The mere knowledge that they exist, these wondrous films, has an effect. You love them, you need them. Like a bite of bread. As different as they are, formally, content-wise, atmospherically – Stephen’s undisguised view of his friends’ smiles, even of pain, and Laura’s diary, for which she had friends filmed around the globe, the shots, visually alienated and connecting through poetic language and creating emotional closeness – so powerful and comforting at the same time do these two films point far beyond themselves. Somehow not enough, somehow never enough, such beautiful things, such beautiful things.”
Michael Pilz, Notes for the retrospective SO MUCH BEAUTY, AUSTRIAN FILM MUSEUM VIENNA


Selected Film Festivals

The 29th International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2000
(World Premiere)
The New York Video Festival 2000, Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York, 2000
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, 2000
ISEA 2000, 10th International Symposium on Electronic Art, Paris, France, 2000
Netmage, Linkproject, Bologna, Italy, 2000
Cinematexas 2000, Texas, USA, 2000
Videomedeja 5, Novi Sad, Serbia, 2000
The 10th Filmer à tout prix, Brussels, Belgium, 2002
In Person: Laura Waddington, Austrian Film Museum, Vienna, 2002, Curated by Sixpack Film, Vienna
Film Forum, American Cinematheque, Los Angeles, USA, Curated by Mark Rance, 2002
Crossing Frontiers – Laura Waddington, The 51st Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Germany, 2005
Homage to Laura Waddington, The 41st Pesaro International Film Festival, Italy, 2005
Carte Blanche à la Cinémathèque de Tangers, Instants Vidéos, Polygone étoilé, Marseille, France, 2005
Laura Waddington, Mostra Video Itau Cultural, Palacio das Artes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Curated by Andre Brasil, Institut Itau Cultural, Sao Paolo, 2007
Laura Waddington, Mostra Video Itau Cultural, Instituto de Artes do Para, Belem do Para, Brazil, Curated by Andre Brasil, Institut Itau Cultural, Sao Paolo, 2007
Carte Blanche #2 Michael Pilz. Retrospective Michael Pilz: So Much Beauty, Austrian Film Museum, Vienna, 28th June, 2023


BFI, National Film Archive, UK
BFI, London – Heritage Project 2022, UK
LUX, London
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
Video Pool Media Arts Centre, Winnipeg, Canada
CICV Pierre Schaeffer, France
Heure Exquise ! Centre international pour les arts vidéo, France

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